Why vote?

I met with a group of 14 young Maori and Pacifica people looking for work yesterday.Some of the discussion went like this:

Me: What do you think when someone says politics?

Them: …Nothing…politicians…them up there deciding for us…

Me: So what do they get to make decisions about?

Them: Values… beliefs… their money… our money… mana whenua..

Me: So do they represent your values?

Them: NO … they represent themselves.

Then we had a discussion about why those in power don’t represent their values and what might change that. The ideas we discussed included – thinking about how they would like society to be, and then talking with others and letting people know what they think; then fighting for their vision, including voting for it. We also talked about how hard it is sometimes to believe it can be different when it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening.

Mixed up in all this was a critique of ownership vs belonging, money vs a sharing of resources and even the idea of one income for all. Radical stuff.

I was challenged and inspired. Someone noted that choosing not to vote is actually like voting for those with the most power.

The Minister of Youth Affairs Paula Bennet suggested these young people are unemployed because they have bad attitudes and bad families. I’m not sure it’s them with the bad attitudes.

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