I’m doing a bad thing. I’m sitting in bed with a packet of “fancy” chips that I find spicy, and attempting to become “informed” enough to allocate some ticks and numbers on my voting form. I’m having the best and worst time ever.
The chips are amazing (Bluebird Delisio in sweet chilli relish flavour, by the way) and I’ve just forced myself to stop eating before I finish the whooole packet. But I’m really struggling with everything else at hand.
“Anyone can [run for mayor], it’s democracy yo”, said the boyfriend’s txt. My stupefied response to the Auckland local elections booklet must have been… well fuck, I’m still sitting here blankly. Let me preface this by saying that I’m pretty sure I never have, and never will explicitly express any political views here. I feel like such a bigot but I’m really, really bothered by the selection of people running for mayor. There are seventeen candidates, and only two people who I might even consider voting for. I’m pretty sure I won’t be surprised when the results are announced.
Although some much more than others, the candidates all seem enthusiastic and genuine enough, in the quest for becoming mayor of Auckland City. But that’s the problem for me — it’s Auckland City — it’s the biggest city in this country, and a city which I can say I’m from, when traveling, without having to explain that it’s in New Zealand. (That is, unless I’m visiting my sister’s university in California, where they are convinced that Auckland is Oakland and many aren’t sure where exactly New Zealand is.)
Frankly, the calibre of many candidates are well below the threshold of what I would deem necessary to be the mayor of Auckland City. There are too many candidates whose election platforms and views are simply too narrow to be able to address the wide variety of issues that Auckland encounters. Some of the candidates in the booklet sound like they’re having a good ol’ bitch at the dinner table and just aren’t cut out for the job. It’s already caused so many facebook scandals, but needless to say, one particular candidate will be highly unpopular, as his only plan for the future of Auckland is summed up in his party name Christians Against Abortions.
This sounds picky and shallow, however, I definitely judge candidates on their eloquence, or lack thereof. I’m aware that some candidates may not have attended university, or that they perhaps didn’t study anything that was ‘word-heavy’ — but I’m so dismayed at the amount of grammatical and spelling errors. Someone sounded like an interesting, intriguing person (although one I still wouldn’t vote for), until I read to the bottom and saw that she had used the wrong “practise/practice”. Another candidate just had strange, grandiose views and his introduction read like something I’d expect from an online-dating profile. (Disclaimer: I have never been on an online dating site, thus, emphasis on “expect”.) It said something like: “Name. Aucklander. Age. Area raised in. Blah. Blah. Blah. Unemployed“. I do admire his honesty and ambitions but I can’t help raising an eyebrow at someone whose hypothetical first six weeks as mayor includes: “cease violence/crime”; “full employment”; and “talk multi-millions” in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and South Africa. Oh, and don’t forget “early releases” — for what? prisoners?! — and “exercising Auckland dogs”. Sorry, am I missing something here?
Another candidate’s goal is to “reinvent politics” and to “remove 75% of the politicians”. That sounds nice, but maybe we’ll strike him off that list too, in line with his own manifesto. I do like the idea of “online referendums” and “quality two-way communications”, but what do these lofty ideas really mean, on a practical level? Sadly, not all households have internet and/or web-browsing devices, so are these referendums only to be directed at those well off enough to sit in bed with their laptop like my ever-grateful self? I’m also a little miffed that he wishes to “introduce quality education” because, as much as I complain, I believe quality education does exist, although standards fluctuate between teachers, schools, faculties, lecturers, etc.
I got curious enough to visit the website of the candidate with questionable aesthetic judgment. I thought, hey, with a creepy, Edward-Norton-like, one-eyebrow-raised photo, maybe it’s a young dude having a laugh. Nope, he’s 36. Someone else asserting that they’re a “defender of what is obviously and logicallybest for people” makes me nervous. Shall we do away with all pretenses of conducting a democracy?
The point is, I’m astounded and entirely underwhelmed by the options I’m offered. Despite the dismay of the rest of the country, Auckland is the biggest city, and the rise and fall of many things are determined here. Surely there are people more eloquent, qualified, inspiring, sensible, and just all-round better even if only on paper, than the disappointing nine pages I just read?!
Semi-relevantly, why don’t they create some kind of comprehensive survey which determines your detailed political views, with the outcome being that you get offered a list of all the candidates/parties in descending order of how much they agree with your personal views. That would be helpful, especially in the context of many people voting in general elections influenced by party loyalties, rather than actual policies and directions.
I’m glad I got so worked up and needed both hands to type vigorously. I’ve got a lot of chips left.