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July 31, 2017 | by  | in Politics | [ssba]

Help, My Mum is Disenfranchised

The first election my mum ever voted in was in 1981. Robert Muldoon won his third election that year. She was 19-years old, and she voted for National because her parents voted for them, and she said she did not know any better.

Since then, my mum has voted in every election, except 1990 and 1993 when she was overseas. She has almost always voted National, and kept voting for National because that was what she always did.

My mum is not totally conservative or on the right, because she is always interested and eager to learn about new ideas and policies. As a family we have had countless lengthy debates about euthanasia, prisons, the living wage, feminism, Brexit, the refugee crisis, and LGBTQIA+ issues, to just name a few. We have all learnt new ideas and perspectives, as well as learnt to adapt to current theories and ideas about society and people, both from these debates and from each other.

However, the 2017 election approaches and my mum does not want to vote. This was a conclusion she made when we were watching the news during the Todd Barclay scandal. She turned to me, defeated, sighed and said: “they’re all liars.”

Now, it is an age-old adage that politicians are untruthful, but the Barclay scandal was the last straw for my mum. She has been through ten election cycles, decades of political ups and downs, and witnessed hundreds of scandals, cover-ups, and lies, and she has had enough.

She has had enough of the old white men being in charge, doing nothing for her or her family, and never prioritising the public good over themselves or the party. Her words, not mine.

But that does not mean she does not care. In fact, she cares quite a lot about the election and the future of New Zealand. But she feels discouraged and distressed about what she is witnessing in the current political climate in the lead up to the election, which is only making her sense of disenfranchisement grow. She’s not angry… she’s just disappointed.

So my mum is starting to look elsewhere to see what political party has ideas and policies that she supports and believes in, and it sure is slim pickings. Anything to the right of National like ACT and NZ First are a no-go for her, and as a lifelong cat-enthusiast she would never vote for Gareth Morgan, so The Opportunities Party is out too.

On the left, it is almost just as bad. She won’t vote for Labour until Jacinda Ardern is party leader (which will most likely be on September 24), so that leaves the Green Party as the only other major party on the left to vote for.

And she is considering it.

As a Green Party supporter, this makes me quite happy. But her reasoning to make this choice does not. Mum agrees with some of their policies, and likes that there is a female co-leader and many intelligent and diverse women in the party list, but she ultimately wants to vote for them because there is no other party that she feels comfortable casting her vote for.

The 2017 election is also going to be the first time my sister will be able to vote. She is not really interested in politics, but when I asked her who she was going to vote for, she also said the Greens.

Her reasoning for this was the same as my mum’s — she said they seemed the less harmful of the bunch. She feels that no party has offered anything to her (to learn about or be interested in) as an upcoming tertiary student or a first time voter in the election.

She is also pretty down to legalise marijuana.

Both my mum and my sister just want to give someone else a chance to govern the country, and since the Greens are the only other major party on the left… left, they think, “why the hell not let them have a try?”

Being interested in voting or politics is not for everyone, but when the two women closest to you feel completely abandoned and disenfranchised by the system, it is pretty discouraging.


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