After an Election: Our New Government

In my last post about the excitement around the 2017 New Zealand General Election, I (correctly) stated that the outcome could see either National or a Labour / Greens coalition form a Government with the support of king-maker New Zealand First. The final tally of votes rolled in on 7 October 2017, with National losing 2 seats to place them at 56 out of 120 seats and the Labour / Greens grouping gaining those 2 seats to put them at 54 out of 120 seats. What that meant was either one going with New Zealand First (with their 7 seats) could form a majority Government. Interesting times indeed.
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After an Election

Voting by Cle0patra
“Voting” by Cle0patra (Flickr)

Saturday was our General Election in New Zealand, and I personally found it quite exciting that so many people got out to vote — a record number of us voted early! — and that the results are quite close.

Under an MMP system (Mixed-Member Proportional for those of you not in the know) in New Zealand, several parties are elected, ranging in number from 1 member to the maximum of 120 members, and this election delivered a doozy.

Our two major parties — National (conservative) and Labour (liberal) — ended up with no clear majority. In Labour’s case, they would have to do a deal with the Greens (also liberal) to be close to National’s numbers at this point in time.

Neither group — National by itself, or a Labour-Greens coalition — can probably govern alone because they have too few seats to have a majority. In our Parliament, a party usually needs 61 out of the 120 seats to have a majority to govern.

So there are options, interestingly enough, and one party — New Zealand First, led by Winston Peters — holds the king- or queen-maker position. They can go with National, or they can go with Labour-Greens, to form our next Government.

I personally find that really exciting because there are options out there.
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Voting

The New Zealand 2017 General Election officially falls on Saturday, 23 September 2017, but early voting is already taking place. Noel and I decided to vote early this election cycle as the polling station in Northwood is no longer around — it was really nice to be able to walk down and vote — and it was one less thing to do on a precious Saturday.

When I was a senior in high school, there was a big movement to register younger voters and encourage them to vote. MTV even had “Rock the Vote” going during that time. I vividly remember Jamie Royal coming to my classroom (Sociology, I think), and she registered me to vote in the hallway across from my locker. I was so nervous and scared and excited at the same time.
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Oh, What a Lovely #War

We can do it!Yesterday, the US elections were held.  A President, Vice-President, Senators, Governors, Representatives, a whole slew of people were elected, some for the first time, some for the umpteenth time.  I think you’d need to have been living under a rock not to know that it was a pretty nasty bun fight between the Republicans and the Democrats in the lead up to the election.  To be honest, I’m rather disgusted with the lows both parties go to sometimes to try to win an election.  I’m even more appalled about the money they spent fighting one another, because that money could have helped a lot of people, or even the nation.

My post-election thinking is, “Hey… you know, let’s just move on now.  We need to dust ourselves off, say ‘good fight’, let’s find out where we can work together, and let’s make the USA a great nation again.”  Maybe I’m overly optimistic or a rational adult or something, but the downward spiral has to stop.  Cease fire.  White flag.  Diplomatic discussion time.  Kids out of the room, this is adult-only time.

So I was rather dismayed when I saw certain people I know (and, stripping away the politics, they are nice people, who I really really really like… We have had some great laughs over the years) who are involved in certain factions of certain parties are treating the outcome in not a very nice light.  As in, 3 year old, toys out of the cot, kinda not nice.

I’m trying to balance the fine line between friendship and concern for these friends (“Do you really believe what you are saying?  Take a step back and look at what you are saying… Is this you? Who you want to be? Do you realise how nutty this all is?”) and standing up for my beliefs.

As an aside: my Grandpa was a great man.  He would talk to anyone.  Sit him down at a bench in the mall, and by the time you came back, he’d have struck up a conversation with someone, and they behaved like they were the best of friends.  Grandpa had that “live and let live” attitude.  He was a strong man who loved his God, his wife, and his family very much, but I’d also like to think he was a humanist.  My Grandpa was a very down-to-earth man who seemed to make a point that we are all in this together and we need to work together despite our differences.  If I could be half the man he was, I would be happy.

Back to my blog: I try to be a person who works with others to achieve a common goal.  I might not always agree with everything, but I think there is more strength in working together despite your differences.  And I approach things with an open mind, trying to think how my actions and words impact others.  I think peaceful negotiations are the best way to approach things.  Sure, my blood boils sometimes, but I’m a better person than to fall back on my basic raw human emotions.

So, when I saw the #war hashtag for the millionth time on Facebook and Twitter last night from these certain friends, I unfortunately lost the plot a little bit with them.  These elements sometimes talk of civil disobedience and all sorts of crazy stuff which, to be honest, concerns me a great deal.  If you are supposedly someone who is loyal to your country and care so much about your country that you are trying to push for change, why would you openly encourage disobedience against the will of the people?  Why would you, and your fellow party faithful, want to keep being obstructive during one of your country’s greatest times of need?

These people talk of civil #war, of fantastic stories of how the government is conspiring to challenge the people, how the US is becoming a Marxist state, exaggerating many things like petrol prices shooting through the roof.  Why?  What good is this to anyone?  Are you trying to scare the living crap out of your kids?  Make them so anxious they start failing school, acting out, need anti-anxiety medication?  Go back to that atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in the aftermath of 9/11?  Because I think people are tired of all that.  They know the Boogeyman isn’t lurking in the shadows or under the bed.  It’s time to move on from “singing about the age of paranoia”; I think a lot of us have moved on from it.

But the way this small core of people are behaving, I’m dreading waking up one morning to read something like this on my Facebook feed: “Obama allowed Megatron, Skeletor, Loki and their armies access to the USA.  Just watch the movies Transformers, Masters of the Universe and The Avengers for the evidence!!! Chicago, LA, NYC, watch out! #impeachObama #war”  (And then I think I might headbutt the breakfast bar a few times… Or go back to bed and hope it’s all a bad dream.  Or laugh heartily like I do when I’m in total disbelief… I’m not sure which yet.)

I mean, the media behaves this way, becoming more sensationalist to drown out the other media outlets vying for your attention, sometimes to the point where you go… “Are you effing kidding me?  Seriously?”  And this is where some quarters of American politics seem to think it’s okay to head.  Well, it’s not.

Saying a #war is coming or that you’re going to start a #war is not cool.  It’s not funny, it’s not fun, and it’s just highlighting how totally uncooperative your group wants to be with everyone else.  (Life is full of compromise; pick your battles wisely.)

My family (as well as many other families out there over the centuries) has been affected by Real War.  The stories my Oma told to my Aunt Lisa (which I’m lucky enough to have a recorded copy of) about living in Nazi Germany should be enough to make the blood drain from your face.  It includes a story of a dead starving family who stole bread and the “justice” they faced for stealing, which involved nails and a hammer (I won’t go further than that).  Or just even reading the statistics about how many civilians died in a Real War like the Iraq War should be enough to make you question if Real War or #war war is always the best approach.

Trying to force change through violence rarely works.  It drops us into a cycle of violence upon violence upon violence of one another.  We need to break the cycle.  We need to talk to one another.  We need to find common ground, disagree on what we disagree on because everyone can’t agree on 100% all of the time, but let’s work together to find out where our ideals overlap and start discussing any lee-way on the rest.

I know not everyone will drop tools and change overnight.  What I am saying to you is, at least try.  Modify your behaviour and your thinking.  Think outside the box.  Think about why you feel the way you do, analyse it, think of other viewpoints.  Talk about this with your friends in a non-confrontational way, especially friends who have different viewpoints.  Think like a scholar or a philosopher and try to find out how you can change for the better of you, your family, your community and your country.

Because those who died or were injured in Real Wars while fighting to make sure we kept the right to free speech, to vote, to have free association, and to think our own thoughts deserve you to try to make the Republic work, and to restore the USA to its shining jewel-in-the-crown status it once had.  Too much blood has been shed in the name of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness not to; we don’t need more shed because you’re too stubborn to budge or unwilling to compromise or think #war is cool.

Hard Questions About the 2012 US Election

Okay, I admit, I took this from my response to my cousin’s Facebook post about the US election coming up tomorrow!  But I think I need to say what I need to say, get it off my chest, and share this with the world.  I believe it gives you (my readers) some insight into who I am and what I believe in (which is important for a blog in its infancy).

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There is separation of church and state in the USA.  What people should be more worried about than which presidential candidate likes God more is how the person they are voting for or support can run the USA.

Do they want to build relationships with other countries and strengthen them, or do they want to tear them down and isolate the USA again?

Do they want a world of peace, where their children and children’s children can live side-by-side with people of many different cultures, ethnicities, religious beliefs, sexual orientations, and so on, without conflict or strife, or do they want a world decended into war once again, where hundreds of thousands or even millions of innocent people are killed in the name of oil, money, cultural differences or religion, one where more problems are created than solved through gunfire instead of diplomacy?

Do they want to fix the financial mess the world is in (yes, the world, not just the USA) by doing their bit to fix the USA’s economy, or do they want to go back to a free-for-all system that caused the problems in the first place?  (interesting analogy: it takes a lot longer to clean up a glass of spilled milk than it does to spill it.)

Do they want to help the poor and heal the sick and educate everyone to an acceptable standard through governmental agencies and laws providing equal access for all, or do they want to let people fend for themselves?  (The game of life does not have an equal playing field, and this is becoming more and more unfair as the years go on.  The deck is being stacked against people like you and me by an ever-smaller growing group of people.)

Do they want to ensure two people in a loving, stable relationship (regardless of gender) have the same legal rights as their neighbours in all aspects of their relationships, or do they want to continue to follow the mantra “all people are equal, but some are more equal than others“?  (I pay the same taxes as my straight neighbours; why should I be denied the right to visit my dying spouse in the hospital because he and I are both men? Should we allow that for gay veterans who have served the USA with honour as a thanks for their service? Because some parts of the USA do do that.)

Do they want to ensure that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, free of religious or cultural influence or religious or cultural persecution (which is what the USA was founded on) is something that can once again be in the reach of all Americans, or do they want to restrict that vision now to a few who happen to earn the most money?

There are a lot of conflicting messages, and these are only some of the choices as I see them; my perspective is only one of many.  I don’t claim to always be right, but I try to live my life as best as I can to help out my fellow man.

When I think about these things, I think about people like my Grandma, or my brothers, or my parents, or my friends, or my family, or my nephews.  What sort of future do we want for them?  If one of my nephews or my friend’s children or a child you know ends up in a gay relationship, or unable to afford healthcare (and suffering as a consequence), or not being able to get the education they need (through lack of education or money), how can I look them in the eye and say, “I’m sorry I didn’t fight for your rights to face a world more equal and fair than mine”?  How can any of us do that?

I want a world where the USA works with other countries to make this a peaceful world.

I want a world without war and where we can all co-exist in peace, and if we have a disagreement, we can talk about it instead of shooting one another.

I want a world with financial stability for all.

I want a world where we look after those whose luck is less fortunate than ours.

I want a world where we can love the person we love (regardless of gender) and have that relationship treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our peers.

I want a world where “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is more than a phrase.

I want an equal playing field for our future generations.

I want a world of solutions, not of making problems.

I want a world where we think about how what we do impacts other people before we act or talk.

(A lot of this, incidentially, is how Jesus wanted us to live our lives.)

Life is full of change, and the world as we know it is changing; it started changing the minute it started spinning.  We may not always like or understand the change; change can be frightening or scary because we don’t understand it sometimes.  And when it comes, sometimes change isn’t as bad as we feared.

In my opinion, we (as a species) cannot continue looking after a select few while turning away from the increasing amount of people who need help.

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