Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Campbell Live and Democracy - 50 Shades of Political Participation

It has been a while since I have blogged mostly because my previous employment didn't allow me to. But now that I am going to be a poor uni student living in my parents' basement (metaphorically of course), I figure its time for me to do something other than be perpetually outraged at friends and family. I moved to Austin on Saturday but haven't stopped following the GCSB/Snapper/Child abuse saga in between my jet-lagged naps.

There have now been two episodes in New Zealand on the public perception of the GCSB. I must say I was quite surprised that people were 1) willing to be on TV talking about it and 2) had a position either way. A New Zealand journalist posted on FB wondering if people who were outraged about John Key had even read the bill. Even though I am a politics nerd and a legislation geek, apart from the offensive section, I admit I have not read the whole bill. Nor as a voting citizen I believe I should have to! There is plenty being written about it and plenty being talked about it and I think I am smart enough to come up with a pretty intelligent position without reading the Bill itself. I can also understand the Parliamentary processes under which it is being passed i.e. with a 1 vote majority and in a very short amount of time. I can see that the select committee submissions are largely critical and that is enough for me to have an idea that his is not a good thing. I have taken the time to read what Thomas Beagle and the Law Society have had to say about it and I have read Dame Anne's piece in the Herald.

I commend Campbell Live for taking on issues like Child Poverty, Christchurch Earthquake and now GCSB, issues that the Government wants to fix via good PR rather than substantive policy work. Issues that ARE political because ideology dictates outcomes. There is an attitude within the current government that because of the election outcome, there is a carte blanche to do whatever they please. The recent polls aren't helpful either. They only seek to reinforce the government's position and weaken the opposition's resolve. I am not a polls analyst nor do I have some kind of radical position on the way they are done or how often or the purpose. But there is no doubt that they contribute to the confidence not only of those who govern but the voters as well.

Coming back to my original point which the readers might not yet see, I think that it is great that Campbell Live is canvassing the views of the ordinary people. I don't think that every person has to be an expert. We don't have to be an expert to vote. I think this is great for encouraging public engagement, which is really important in a healthy democracy.

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