Jamaine Ross is one of my oldest friends from my early childhood. We shared a mutual love of emergent improvised story-telling (ie, playing HeroQuest), engaging in speculation on future modular technologies (playing with Lego™ spaceships) and exploring the potential of the then-embryonic interactive electronic media (playing Wing Commander 2 and other video-games). He now works as a video editor in Auckland.
Having recently re-connected through Facebook, he was kind enough to offer his insights into how and why he cast his ballots in earlier elections, and what changed this time around.
A Thing I Wrote
(This is the actual title by the way. It just doubles as the subject of the email I'm using to submit it. This stuff in the brackets included)
I’ve never really been that politically minded. The first time I voted, I gave my candidate vote to the name I recognised (whose name I wouldn’t recognise now), and I gave my party vote to NZ First because I thought Winston Peters was funny.
The next 2 times I voted, I didn’t really care as both of the major parties had little effect on my day to day living. Looking back, I sometimes think I shouldn’t have voted at all. But even though my political measuring stick was the amount of humour I derived from a candidates’ behaviour, I was participating.
In 2008, I was living with a friend who was interested in politics. Not in an obsessive way. Just in your regular white lower-middle-class male kind of way. So we discussed politics on many occasions. More question and answer sessions really, where his over-priced university education was finally put to good use. And thus, my interest was piqued.
The main thing I realised was that in order to accurately vote in New Zealand general elections, you have to pay attention for a lot longer than just the month leading up. It has to be 2 months at least. Jokes, jokes. More like 3 years. So I decided to soak up politics for the most recently aforementioned period of time.
3 years on, I have relatively strong opinions about a subject I still know little about. My soaking up of information hasn’t been bad. I’ve just been unable to sort that knowledge into useable voting weaponry (My vocabulary is starting to run dry).
I’ve been helped by spending a lot of time with a colleague who graduated from university with a major in Political Science (and by ‘spending a lot of time with’ I mean ‘arguing about Kanye West lyrics, Jay-Z lyrics, Lil’ Wayne lyrics and education policies’). But I’m still somewhat in the dark about which New Zealand political party I should support.
So this election, I supported none. Of course I actually cast a vote. And it was for a legitimate candidate and not just a name I scribbled on the bottom of the paper (which if I did, would be Balls McGee of the Thunder Cats party). But I based my vote, not on the merits of a particular party’s policies, but on my own personal leanings on the left-right political spectrum (I had to Wikipedia that term).
Is this a good way to choose? Who the fuck knows?
But if you do know, then keep it to your dam self.