What not to decide votes on
It’s not easy to be an undecided voter in this election. Once in a while there’s a nudge either way, but it’s difficult to find anything compelling. People who are convinced towards Labour or National typically base their convictions on startling misconceptions of both major parties, or on gross assumptions about the contest in general. You can’t blame us for having such comments bounce off us.
A good cliché, for example, is the call for “change”. What change? National’s policies present little in terms of “change”; they are essentially Labour’s tinkered around the edges. Unlike the 1980s, this Labour government has done nothing radical or disastrous in the last nine years. A National government would have no pieces to pick up, and would find hard to ditch the better of Labour’s initiatives. Change for the sake of change must not be what decides votes: an extension of this mentality would see constant changes in government, which can stifle progress as new governments take time to settle into office.
A word that floats around similarly is “trust”. National, some would have us believe, can be expected to abandon everything they’ve said as soon as they take office. The tendency for core National supporters not to have realised the shift in their party’s stances notwithstanding, such accusations seem to be little but rhetoric. Differences from the Brash era are to be expected, perhaps even welcomed. With the election in just over a month, National’s policy releases have accelerated significantly and are making some sense.
There are other misinformed grounds. The “anti-smacking bill” seems still fresh on some minds, the better of people having forgotten that National voted for it at its final reading. National’s turnaround on student loans seemed more of a reluctance to revisit done decisions than an indecisive flip-flop. Undecided voters aren’t about to cry over pre-2005 social policies when we’ve got the economy to worry about. And what’s this about governments telling us how to live our lives? I certainly can’t feel it.
When I mention these thoughts to convinced voters, I mostly get reluctant agreement. Yeah, maybe there wouldn’t be much change, and yeah, maybe change isn’t always the magic word… but it doesn’t matter, I’m still voting for change. Yeah, maybe I should examine their policies… but it doesn’t matter, I still don’t trust him. I’m sure those who can properly reason their decision know who they are, but by and large, many just haven’t caught onto the fact that we’re deciding between different two cultivars of apple.
Perhaps, as the election campaign progresses, things will become slightly clearer. But it’d be silly for non-traditional or non-partisan voters to have decided by now. Both parties have moderate track records, and both will be releasing exciting plans for the future (or so we hope), and that’s what swing voters should be looking at closely whey they make up their minds.