Friday, June 13, 2014

Best things

Tonight I went to the “Labour Launch and Laughs” campaign launch for the Labour Party candidate in Northcote, Richard Hills. It was a great time—good food, good people and good atmosphere. I was in my element.

I’ve been political for as long as I can remember, pretty much, and it’s always been principle-driven more than partisan, though I’m very partisan, too (obviously!). Even so, principle comes first. That’s why I’m a Labour Party member and why I back Richard Hills.

Tonight was a time to gather and celebrate, really, the official beginning of a campaign that so many of us have been working on for a long time already. Richard has a strong base of support (we can always use more volunteers!), and a great family behind him. It’s a solid base to build on.

But as I looked around the room, which included many people I knew only through seeing them around the community, people I knew through Labour, local politicians and Labour Party candidates, I remembered one of the things I love so much about this country: The immediacy of its democracy.

When I talked about my weekend at the Labour List Conference, I mentioned that I met Labour Leader David Cunliffe, and that, in US terms, it was “a bit like having a chat with Nancy Pelosi”. The thing is, in New Zealand it’s easy to interact on a personal level with politicians we see on the evening news every night. This easy connection with the leaders of our country is one of the things that I love so much about New Zealand. The level of access and even familiarity we have is simply unimaginable in the USA—and I know, because for a time I was the sort of political activist who would have that kind access, though it turned out it wasn’t durable. It quite possibly (probably?) wasn’t even real.

So tonight I was in a room with elected politicians and candidates who hope to be elected, plus a whole bunch of people who support them (including some of the most important people in my life, who were probably there for me as much as our candidate…), and I thought, politics nerd that I am, THIS is what participatory democracy is all about. Long may it thrive.

It was a great night. We have a great candidate and great party with a great message. It was the BEST night.

The photo at the top of this post is shamelessly stolen from the Facebook page of Labour Auckland North. It features the Labour candidates who attended Richard's campaign launch. I'll eventually get the names (correct spellings…) of everyone who was there and I'll amend this. Until then, Richard Hills is in the centre with the checked shirt, and next to him is Ann Hartley, who was the first Labour candidate whose campaign I ever volunteered for.

No comments: