Monday, September 25, 2017

Politics respite

This past Saturday was New Zealand’s General Election. The September Equinox was also at 8:01am that day, though Spring still hasn’t actually arrived yet. And as if all that wasn’t enough, New Zealand returned to Daylight Saving Time at 2am that night/following morning. It was a busy weekend, many people are tired from the clock change, but we’ll all eventually get over that. The effects of the election, however, may last quite a while longer.

I'll eventually put down my thoughts on the election here on the blog, as I always do, but I need to gather my thoughts first, as I always do. It was a strange election in many ways, and until the 384,072 (approximately…) Special Votes—roughly 15% of the total cast—are counted, we won’t know the final shape of Parliament, and that, in turn, will determine who will form government. The final tally of votes, including the Special Votes and Ordinary Votes, should be released around 2pm on Saturday, October 7.

One thing I noticed as early as election night was the need some people had to attack those who voted for parties they didn't support. Sometimes it was because the parties they supported didn’t do as well as they’d hoped, sometimes it was because of ideology more generally, but none of it was helpful.

Attacking those one disagreed with in the NZ election must stop.

The election is over, sure, and that’s reason enough, but it's more than that: Whatever side we may have backed, we'll need to win votes from people who didn't vote our way this time, and attacking those people isn't going to suddenly make them more receptive to our point of view. Voting behaviour is as complicated as any other human behaviour, and no one votes to do bad things—and this is true no matter how much we disagree with them. They can't be won over by lecturing them on how evil, awful, and selfish—or old—they are. Instead, we must demonstrate that our ideas are better ideas. Sure, we know those ideas are better, but that’s something that's self-evident only to us.

I also think everyone needs to consider what they personally did to bring about the result they wanted—sharing things on Facebook and Twitter isn't actually doing anything, by the way. I know people who worked damn hard on campaigns of several different parties, but the rest of us? Not so much, and that absolutely includes me—but, then, I’m not the one complaining about or attacking people who voted differently than I would have liked.

What I’m really saying is that “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.” There are structural issues to address with campaigns and messaging, absolutely, and there's a real need to look at what, precisely, the Left (in general) is selling. However, attacking people who didn’t vote as we think they should have is just ideological masturbation, and that’s not really something that should be done in public.

Whatever happens, whoever forms Government, and however we feel about that, it’s only temporary: The maximum term of any Parliament is only three years. Good or bad, this, too, shall pass. I just hope the negativity passes faster. We all need a rest.

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