By Harris Dowson
The election is this weekend and after many ups and downs, slogging through debates, social media madness, and an almost constant media frenzy; we will finally get to see what who will lead our country into the future.
I’ve written a lot about this election, trying my best to remain unbiased, presenting the facts and pushing people to get enrolled and cast their votes. I want people to take part in this election, regardless of whether their beliefs align with my own. Voting for our future is something no one should sit out.
I’ve come to learn that no political perspective is foolproof, there is always another side to an argument and everyone has the right to their own opinion. This blog is my perspective and is in no way meant to belittle anyone’s political leanings or beliefs; but rather to explain why I vote the way I do. Hopefully, it’ll cause you to think and reflect on why you’re voting the way you are too.
I think there are many policies in New Zealand government that it makes sense to debate, many reasons why a person might like one party over another but I think there are some things that affect us that simply shouldn’t be up for debate.
Issues that as a society we should agree on, the basic rights of humanity, the things that shouldn’t be up for discussion.
Things like freedom of sexuality, equality of race and gender and that in our developed country, no family should be living in their cars or on the street.
I’ve lived an extremely privileged life, I’ve been very lucky to have been raised in an affluent suburb, with a private education and a childhood in which I’ve never had to want for anything. On top of this, I am also a straight, white male. I’m incredibly lucky and live in a society catered to me. I’ve never experienced prejudice, racism or been made to feel unwelcome in my own country. I’m incredibly lucky and I know this, which is why I vote to help those who aren’t.
I vote for the Green Party because I refuse to believe that poverty, homelessness and children dying from respiratory diseases because of moldy homes is something that is just part of the status quo. I personally believe that, regardless of a person’s political leanings, they too believe this. No one would want a person to live in poverty but it’s happening and we can’t face this problem having an out of sight, out of mind perspective.
In New Zealand, there are around 622,000 people living in poverty. That’s one in seven households. Around 230,000 of them are children. 622,000 people who don’t have access to proper housing, food or healthcare. People struggling with poverty need our help and we must do more to help them. The system that is in place now is one filled with flaws. Benefits aren’t enough for a family to live on and the resources to help those who desperately need it are stretched critically thin.
Living in poverty is aligned with much prejudice, most commonly that those who are struggling finically must have brought it on themselves. That if they wanted to, they could get work and climb out of the hole they are in.
This is bullshit and it’s systemically rooted in our system.
International research shows time and time again that beneficiaries want to work but lack of employment opportunities, health problems and commitments to caring for their families make it near impossible.
These people are struggling; despite their best efforts, to provide for their families and they need our help.
Now, I’m aware that there will always be a disparity between those with and those without. This is part of a capitalist system and I accept that, however it’s the size of this disparity that I simply cannot accept.
I vote Green because I’m doing ok, and I know that with one tick I can help others that aren’t.
Of course, there are myriad other reasons as to why I vote the way I do. Caring for New Zealand’s environment, climate change policy, swimmable rivers, public transport initiatives, increasing our refugee quota and Te Reo Maori in schools are all extremely important to me. However, it is the state of poverty in our country I feel is most important.
Surely this is something all New Zealanders can agree on. Surely?
I believe that New Zealanders have a history of looking out for each other, and no matter how much we disagree, at the end of the day we want the best for everyone. Perhaps I’m being ignorant but I think living with any other belief is utterly devastating.
I’m not going to tell you how to vote, that is a decision you have to make for yourself and the choice you make will be incredibly important.
I’ll will, however, repeat the words of a political sign I saw that has kept coming back to me over this campaign.
If you’re doing ok, vote to help someone who isn’t.