Election 2014: a choice between dumb and dumber

A billboard of National's John Key is the victim of arty politics.
A billboard of National's John Key is the victim of arty politics.

I walked past an election billboard the other day and, for the first time in my 51 years, I had an overwhelming and childish desire to deface it.

The billboard had suddenly appeared on a construction site and it being there made me want to throw tomatoes at it, and flip the bird to the builders eyeing me like they could read the thoughts behind my transparent sneer.

I did not do it, of course - as a loose version of common decency prevails when one is almost a baby boomer.

This is the exact time in New Zealand's electoral cycle that I like to disappear overseas.

Frustratingly, I can't right now and it is driving me wild.

Having to endure politicians during normal transmission is bad enough. During an election campaign it is as though they are all yelling at once on a badly tuned station on a cheap transistor radio. The 2014 election is already surreal, nasty and soul sucking, like a vampire movie minus the humanity.

Maybe I should take it more seriously. The celebrities are.

Lorde puts out a video cajoling youth to get out and vote. I am not her demographic but I get the validity of her message.

Russell Brand, on the other hand, who has never voted, speaks strongly to the part of me that believes that voting only encourages politicians and actually, truth be told, why vote for what is essentially a broken system? But here we are, arguably in the dying days of capitalism, forced to essentially choose between dumb and dumber. The politicians treat us like we are all the lowest common denominator.

Yet, despite their multitudes of advisers, researchers, policy analysts and minders, it is they who are in need of an IQ test.

Their respective election slogans tend to reinforce this.

National's is "Working for New Zealand". I think what National is trying to say is it is all about the jobs, the economy, macho values and money. Let's not let a little thing like Maui's dolphins, freshwater you can swim in and child poverty get in the way of honest toil and naked greed.

It speaks to men. Men in suits who secretly yearn for a return to overalls. Men on construction sites, oil rigs and dairy farms who know they are working for New Zealand. The country's good providers. Puffed up and hairy- chested. Like the sealers and whalers before them, they will take, take, take until there is no more to take.

Labour's slogan is "Vote Positive". Oh, OK. It is the middle of freakin' winter, it is cold, it is rainy and many are struggling to pay the bills and feed the kids.

As if, really and truly, Labour will make their financial situation easier. Or that people will suddenly find more cash in their pocket and a fairer society?

There is nothing particularly "positive" about policies that are effectively National wearing a red dress. Labour, too, supports all methods of oil drilling, reckons Maui's dolphins do not need extra protection, and swimmable rivers are a nice yet forlorn idea.

It is business as usual but with a dose of old-fashioned unionism thrown in for purely historic purposes.

Positive? Big call that one.

The Green's slogan is "Love NZ". Ironic because right now my own relationship with New Zealand is like one I used to have with an ex.

It is all about hanging in there and hoping that things change for the better, that we will recapture what was once wonderful.

All the while knowing, deep down, that it is over.

Are the Greens trying to convince me they can single- handedly - or at best in a coalition - turn the clock back?

That this country can again be clean, green and maybe close to 100 per cent pure?

It is a great idea and I want to believe it but even if they are in power after September, do we seriously imagine they can start the huge, uphill journey towards that goal?

There is a little thing called climate change under way, and I suspect the overt grasping and clawing you are noticing is just the beginning. Good on the Greens for trying the patriotic line of loving one's country.

However, like a battered wife that stays, my country feels just a little beaten and bloodied for the Greens to be able to save it.

If I sound like I am erring on the side of Russell Brand, you are not wrong. Voting does feel like encouraging more of the same, tired, capitalist bull that serves the rich to the detriment of the poor and the environment.

I will vote because that is what I have been trained from birth to do. Just like believing in a system that is now, one way or another, failing us all.

The alternative? I don't know but relatively soon we are all likely to be finding out.

Nature will have her way - she always does.

Taranaki Daily News