My inspiring husband shared this idea whilst we were discussing our dissatisfaction for current politics during a pre-sleep-in-bed-day’s-debriefing.
“We could vote for policies not politicians” – Jeremy George Marks
This conversation came about as a by-product of the Rena Oil-Spill. I had tautoko-ed a campaign against National Party’s decision to mine. The facebook post criticises National’s plan to mine for oil off the coast of Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. I finished by saying “Those who voted John Key in last election didn’t vote for mining,” and that “such monumental decisions warrant a referendum.”
This got Jeremy-George and I to talk about the fact we currently vote for a party, and in fact it seems the majority of us vote for a leader, and sometimes the charisma or lack of charisma of the presented party leader distracts us from the current policies and the established values of the party. But all this aside, for whatever calculated or uncalculated, deliberated or undeliberated, independent or dependent on the views of our family or friends… in New Zealand under MMP, we vote for a party, and we vote for a human to represent the specific patch of land we live on. But in all of this we don’t or are unable to vote for all policies.
How many of us are fortunate enough to have the time and a brain programmed to decode Public Relations speak enough to wade through repetitive/circular policy e.g. on a party’s website. Even if we’re able to decipher what this party’s policies are, no politician or no party seems honest enough to clearly or even in convoluted PR language, write what the party will take in order to give what they’re readily spouting about. Even if we succeed in de-coding the policy’s specifics we’re still not able to vote explicitly for or against the policies themselves.
How many people could rattle off say five current policies for three different parties running in this 2011 New Zealand election? The Conservative Party has been effective in sharing their policies and values with everyday Bay of Plenty homes, with flyers distributed within community papers. Have the Conservative Party canvassed all of New Zealand? Not that I want to discuss my personal political views in this post explicitly but their policy on Mum or Dad working in the home with the family is refreshing:
“New Zealand now provides subsidised child care so mums can go to work. We have not considered the long-term consequences of this move. It’s fact that quality time, baby with mother (or sometimes dad), in the early years is enormously significant for long-term development and provides for much better outcomes compared to child care facilities. If we subsidise child care, let’s offer the same financial support to mums who choose to stay at home with baby. Mothers need to be recognised as truly valuable in their role not just incentivised to head back to work.” – Conservative Party New Zealand
As another aside, before I get to my point (and thank you for reading this far, as I realise I am taking my time getting to the actual point), my husband randomly yet repetitively asks if I’m going to vote this election. He reminds me I should only vote if I believe in the party and the local politician. I wonder how many people do vote with this in mind? I know many people are conscious to vote strategically, and/or for their vote not to be wasted. I know other people that vote to get a party out rather than actually believing enough in a party, to whole-heartedly vote them in. Some vote for the lesser of two evils.
Imagine if we only voted when we had complete confidence.
But here is the actual point for today:
We vote a party in, we vote politicians in, we vote a leader in…but do we vote to sell assets, or to mine for oil, or to – I’m trying quickly to think of an action that doesn’t look like I’m anti-National party.
What would happen if we voted for policies instead of politicians?
I could vote perhaps for the National Party’s policy on Education, the Labour Party’s policy on Law and Order, the Green’s Party on Arts, Culture and Heritage, the Maori Party’s policy on Health and Well-Being…
How would the parties pay for their policies? They’d be given a budget.
Who would give them this budget and who would determine what the portfolio of policies were? An elected select committee of business, industry, community people with experience in their expert areas e.g. Health, Education, Business, Environment. This Commitee would resemble an organisation’s Board of Directors. The members would be nominated and voted in. This committee would be a small group, no more than the number that sat down to The Last Supper for example. The created budgets and policies could also be informed by historical budgets and policies.
When a party won a policy they’d be accountable for that policy. They’d have to continue to feed back to the community what was being achieved, what it was costing, what they had to sacrifice in order to make gains etc.
What about the complexity of this? How would people be informed enough to make a decision? And as for the complexity, people would continue to vote as they do already – some would make informed independent decisions, others wouldn’t.
Ah-ha. This way the charisma or non-charisma of a ‘leader’ wouldn’t distract us in our voting. The policies would have to be transparent, accessible and tangible so that all could vote. We wouldn’t be voting for traditions or personalities. Politicians and political parties could be tracked – we as voters could return to the policies and be able to easily and effectively evaluate whether a person or party has achieved what they set out to do. It would be CLEAR what the people of New Zealand were voting for. The People of New Zealand could vote for what actually matters to them, what actually concerns them. People could vote for action or non-action rather than a collection of people or unclear intangible boundless values or traditions. Our people could vote, our people could see whether a majority did or didn’t want oil mined, whether a majority did or didn’t want tougher penalties for criminals. Just to digress one last time, Chris Guillebeau suggests this:
“Prisons for non-violent offenders could be ‘open’ centres where the occupants check in every day before going to a supervised job that contributes to society and helps them get back on track. (It’s already being tried in Denmark and the Netherlands.)”
Here’s to radical thoughts, movements and actions.
Kia Ora Jeremy George for your mind and heart.
Does a theory/system like this already exist?
Is there anything you would add to or subtract from this concept?
If so, please write and tell Jeremy and I, we’d especially be warmed to know that there are like-minded minds abound.