NZ, Wellington, 15 September – ‘Tina’* is 50, a close friend, and one of the “Missing Million” from the last election. In fact, ‘Tina’ has never voted in her life. Not once.
In ‘Tina’s’ own words, politics has never held any interest for her and she was always busy with raising a family. To her, politicians were all “the same” and of no relevance to her life. Her family and close friends were her world.
All that changed on 14 August.
‘Tina’ surprised me one evening, the day after Nicky Hager released his book “Dirty Politics“, when she asked me,
“Frank, how do I go about voting?”
I was somewhat taken aback. I was fully aware that ‘Tina’ was without doubt the most apolitical person amongst my friends and acquaintances. Her out-of-the-blue query left me surprised, and somewhat lost for words. (Unusual for me.)
I asked (almost knowing the answer) if she was enrolled. ‘Tina’ wasn’t.
I replied that the easiest way would be to wait for Early Voting to open to the public, where she could enroll and vote at the same time. I reassured her it was a relatively easy process and would take very little time.
I was curious, though, what had motivated her,
“What’s brought this on,” I asked?
She said she had seen a “guy on television” and asked if John Key was the Prime Minister. I replied, yes, sadly, he is.
“Why do you ask?”
“He was going on about some book and they were asking him questions about it. I don’t know what it was about, but I know he was lying.”
This is the TV3 interview ‘Tina’ saw;
Despite having little interest or knowledge of politics, ‘Tina’ picked up very quickly that Key was not telling the truth when questioned by reporters. Especially toward the end of the interview. And ‘Tina’ was pissed off that Key was treating the public as fools if he thought his dishonesty was not obvious to the casual observer.
Our following discussion was which party should she vote for that got rid “of that man”. I replied that Key’s party was National – so don’t tick that box. I listed ACT, the Conservatives, United Future, and the Maori Party as parties that supported Key – so avoid them like the plague.
NZ First was a question mark as there was no way of guessing if Peters would support Key or Labour. So forget that party.
The only three parties guaranteed to get rid of Key were Labour, the Greens, and Mana-Internet.
‘Tina’s’ next question was the one I dreaded;
“What’s the difference?”
What followed was a short, crash-course in the difference between Labour, the Greens, and Mana-Internet. Which, when trying to explain it to someone out loud seemed ridiculous. The differences seemed minor. Almost trivial and meaningless.
Choosing the electorate candidate was straight forward – vote for the Labour candidate.
On 15 September, I received the following txt-message from ‘Tina’,
“U be proud of me Frank. I just voted.”
I was proud. ‘Tina’ had seen something from our elected Prime Minister that she did not like – and she set about doing something about it. Despite never having voted in her life, my friend made the decision to learn what the process was; what the parties were; and which option best matched her beliefs.
Later that day, ‘Tina’ sent me this photo. She proudly pointed at the little sticker they gave her at the Voting Station; “Yes, I have Voted“. She txt-messaged me,
“The beehive needs a maturity injection. Its seems there is a lot of school yard bullying and antics going on.”
Tina hasn’t told me which party she voted for, and I won’t ask. But one of the “Missing Million” is no longer missing.
And one of three parties is now one vote stronger.
The moral of this story? Sometimes it is not the policies or personalities that impel a person to vote.
Sometimes it can be as simple as a flash of insight.
And doing something about it.
* Not real name
Previous related blogposts
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes
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