I just finished listening—I was mending my leggings so I didn’t precisely watch–the final Leaders’ Debate, ahead of New Zealand’s election on Saturday. I had followed the other debates via Twitter, which is dodgy for echo chamber reasons, so I wanted to experience this one for myself.
There…wasn’t a lot to experience; it was only 30 minutes long. My opinions of David Cunliffe and John Key remain unchanged. I didn’t think this election could get much weirder after Dirty Politics dropped (and has subsequently sort of almost kind of been forgotten?) but in the intervening weeks Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden have got involved AND Eminem (yep, the white middle-aged early 2000s rapper, that same one) has sued National for copyright infringement. What will happen next? What bombshells will drop, what secrets will be revealed? STAY TUNED FOR NEXT THRILLING INSTALLMENT etc etc. I know some people are still undecided, which is cool, but I actually don’t think anything that’s happened in this election is going to switch a hard out Labour supporter over to National, or vice versa. If we’re lucky, some of the people who didn’t bother to show up last time around will decide that the issues that have dominated not only the election but the last six years, full stop, are good enough reason to participate.
If the election itself is complicated this time around, then at least the voting was easy, just like last time. I early voted this time around, which meant I went to the library, followed the big orange signs, stated my name, got my ballot, went behind the little cardboard voting booth, and checked off my party vote and my electorate vote with a bright orange highlighter. No ID, no waiting in line, no nothing. It took five minutes, and the nice girl who gave me my ballot even pronounced my name correctly.
I still feel grateful to be able to vote, here or in the US or anywhere. New Zealand women were the first in the world to vote in our current understanding of the term and even though I am not a New Zealander I am proud to carry on with that tradition. I plan to absentee vote in the US this year as well, with the same pride, and with the awareness that it’s feeling more and more like a privilege to do so, instead of a right, as more and more restrictive voting laws are enacted.
I have noticed, though, that New Zealand politics feel more personal and real than the ones in the States (which I do still follow) because they’re the ones that affect my day to day life. The American stuff is beginning to seem more like a statement now, a purely political act, affecting people I care about in a place I will never live again.