A political soap to make voting cool
When Taylor Swift sent out an Instagram post encouraging her millions of followers to register to vote, 169,000 young Americans ‘‘swiftly’’ enrolled, making them good-to-go for the November midterm elections.
Of those who did register, more than half were in the 18-29 age bracket, which is Swift’s fan base.
We might be a long way out from our next elections but voter turnout in the younger demographic could be raised if perhaps Lorde, Drax Project, or Six60 encouraged their fan base to enrol. Making voting cool, straight from the word of musos’ mouths, could be the key to turning our low youth vote around.
Introducing civics education into the curriculum to explain MMP and its funny little ways, showing students the dark arts of voting tactically, lowering the voting age, and encouraging more young people to become political candidates, are just some of the suggested solutions to stir the stumps of the younger voter.
While there was a lot of hype about young voters becoming energised by the relative youth of Jacinda Ardern, who was an elderly 37 years old at the last election, that demographic remained aloof to the act of exercising their franchise.
Back in 2014, only 75 per cent of eligible voters aged 18-24 enrolled, and of those who did, half of that number failed to breast the polling booth tape.
New Zealand politics has been accused of being too deathly dull and of little relevance to young people’s problems and concerns.
If our political system is to be included in a civics curriculum, perhaps some of the more dramatic, tragic, humorous and controversial moments in our political history should be revisited to capture the imagination. (And mentioning the salary of a new-entrant MP wouldn’t go amiss to whet the appetite of those wanting to try their hand at a lucrative, straightout-of-school political career.)
Employing the services of a dramaturge to turn our political history into a drama/soap opera would help bring the characters alive and make them relevant. Play-acting politics and turning classrooms into Parliament’s debating chamber to re-enact some of the more colourful moments would give purchase on our history. Such as?
Starting off with the use of props, MP Mabel Howard waving two large pairs of bloomers around in Parliament to support her successful campaign to have clothing sizes standardised.
The Right Honourable Winston Peters holding up a NO sign at a press conference in relation to a large anonymous NZ First Party donation.
On the tragic side, in 1898, facing financial disaster and rumours of an affair between his wife and her stepson, Liberal Party MP William Larnach takes his own life in a parliamentary committee room.
In 1975 police question MP Colin Moyle on suspicion of homosexual activity, at the time illegal in New Zealand. Robert Muldoon gets hold of the information and forces Moyle to resign.
A clearly intoxicated Muldoon is caught on camera announcing a snap election. Later
Muldoon causes a constitutional crisis when he refuses to act on the instructions of the incoming government.
Graham Capill, leader of the Christian Heritage Party, is convicted of paedophilia-related charges and serves six years in the slammer.
And finishing with props. In 2003 National MP Shane Ardern drives a tractor up the steps of Parliament in protest against a proposed flatulence tax on farmers. Fourteen years later, a distant cousin, Jacinda Ardern, is made leader of the Labour Party and becomes the youngest prime minister since Edward Stafford in 1856.