These are the brutally honest and personal thoughts I have as a first-time voter. It’s timely that my first-time vote just so happens to be during the most soap-opera-like election New Zealand has ever seen. From Ashley Bloomfield memes to National’s many candidates who have been and gone. But all theatrics aside, this upcoming election has both challenged and confirmed my utmost personal values. Two key issues I feel deeply for I wish to unpack with you all.
I exist in the white middle-class world. And within this world, I am subject to far more opportunities than those who aren’t white or of a lower socioeconomic status. Presumably, these two variables that I have no control over – my skin tone and economic status, affect my political views. As important as it is to think on the individual level when voting (what benefits me the most), I feel a great duty to think beyond my own complex. I want to support a government who acknowledges disadvantaged Māori and Pasifika endure far more economic and racial disparities than myself. They are over-represented in the criminal justice system and overall exist in a racially institutionalised society. How are these disparities tackled in the current government? I would say that I am partly happy with some of the current policies- supporting Kōhanga Reo… growing Māori job opportunities. However, there is still so much that needs to be improved. While I favour some of the governments’ indigenous policies, as a white woman it is not my right to decide how beneficial they actually are. This issue is probably what I ponder over most as the election approaches.
Another collective issue I feel the need to address is that of mental health. You don’t see the number of mental health rates declining in New Zealand, in reality, it’s the complete opposite. Often I have heard too late of a family member or friends mental health. It is an equally triggering and prominent issue because it seems to affect all of us. Putting this in a political context, I need a government that acknowledges the grave implications and prominence of mental health issues. That is not to say the government is responsible for the existence of mental health in New Zealand, but rather they need to implement policies within the mental health sector to resolve this issue. Linking back to racial disparities, I see the correlation between low socioeconomic status and low mental health aid. It is clear to see that one issue intertwines into another which ought to be fixed. When I look at all the political candidates I am able to vote for, I favour the one that will specifically address mental health issues. This is, again, another issue I hold close as the election approaches.
Perhaps these two key discussion topics have sparked some controversy in your heart, or perhaps not. What I can’t stress enough is the ability to think outside of your own complex and instead, think of the issues that affect the mass. When I look at all the political parties I see areas that need corrections and improvements. One thing is for certain, and it is that I will not forget my first time voting.