Verity Johnson: Political beige brigade uninspiring for young voters

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Internet-Mana Party doyens Hone Harawira (left), Laila Harre and Kim Dotcom are after the youth vote. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Internet-Mana Party doyens Hone Harawira (left), Laila Harre and Kim Dotcom are after the youth vote. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Before I flew for the first time, I was really excited.

Then I spent seven hours with vomit, babies and eating regurgitated pigeon liver. I've had a similar experience with my first election.

This is the first time I can vote, and I've been looking forward to it abstractly for ages. But now, it's looking about as appetising as the pigeon liver.

Growing up, I was always envious of anything my brother could do before me. University ... dinner parties ... being able to have lunch in a cafe on his own.

And of course - voting. That mysterious morning when Mum, Dad and Simon would disappear and come back older, wiser and raging at each other for not understanding quantitative easing properly.

In my mind, polling booths were purple, velvet lined and underneath a wizened tree which grew the peaches of adult wisdom.

Apparently polling booths are actually in school halls. Which smell of sun-exposed ham sandwiches. Ah well.

But the venue isn't the only let-down of being able to vote.

The most depressing thing is that all the political candidates are about as interesting as the Pope's sex life.

A few years ago, John Key told me I looked like a good Young Nat candidate. I'd rather be compared to an over-boiled beetroot.

His party also feels as relevant to my life as dial-up internet. Especially as, speaking as one of the 96 per cent of New Zealand youth who want more climate-friendly initiatives for areas like transport, their environmental apathy isn't exactly engaging.

I can't look at David Cunliffe without being reminded of Donald Trump.

And between immigrant-bashing and apologising for his chromosomes, he inspires about as much confidence in me as large-scale IT projects.

Jacinda Ardern is okay, but even her shiny hair and sweet tweets couldn't get me to vote Labour.

As a disaffected yoof, I think I'm supposed to be running into the broad arms of Kim, Laila and Hone.

And sure, there's a bunch of young, disengaged voters who love Internet-Mana's buzz. But there is also a chunk of young people who don't.

On the surface, they're great at talking our language. And they do want better internet. They just don't exude the calm, intelligent compassion, which is what I'd look for in a party.

Kim Dotcom's funny and charismatic, but I wouldn't want him in power. Hone Harawira is fantastically firebrand. But he's never struck me as tolerant, rational and calm. And he also scares me.

Laila Harre is supposed to bring the political gravity. Unfortunately, I had no idea who she was until she appeared a few week ago, wedged under Dotcom's arm. I looked her up. I was 7 when she sank out of the public eye.

And Winston? Colin Craig? Dear God no.

So, by process of elimination, I'm probably going to have to vote Greens.

The problem is not only that there are a bunch of parties that don't seem to care about issues concerning young people. But that the leadership on a whole feels old, uninspired and a bit middle-class.

When you get a party that is at least less tired and middle-class, like Internet-Mana, they're still too unstable.

And there's not only the problems of the actual leadership or policies, but the place of MPs in the public eye. On a global scale, disappointment in Obama and fear of Putin make us feel cheated by global government.

The UK MP expenses scandal didn't help this issue.

And you only have to look over the ditch to see the political version of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, except with less intelligence and fewer sex tapes.

It's no wonder we're not interested: we're growing up in a world characterised by political inefficiency. Even on a national scale, Gerry Brownlee and Judith Collins aren't exactly inspiring faith in politics.

Who would I trust to make a difference? If this was the 80s, I'd say MP Fran Wilde. But today, I'd say Mark & Mo Constantine (founders of Lush cosmetics) or John Bird (founder of The Big Issue, a UK magazine sold by the homeless).

They're people who took their vision, combined it with their ability, and just never gave up.

They led the public, they didn't let the public lead them. I wish I could say I felt the same about today's politicians.

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- NZ Herald

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