Kia ora folks,
As OneAction ticks off our first TallyUp for the new year, I want to challenge you to make 2022 the year that you begin to think about politics in new ways. While the immediate crisis of the pandemic and its attendant side-shows dominate our minds and media, it would be good if we could also cast an eye to the horizon and think about where we want to get to as a country and how we’re working together as a community.
For example, what do we want to be true about housing, health, and the environment in the future? What do we want to be true about our politics and cultural identity? Will we build positive ways to meet with each other in politics, in wānanga? Will we build a cohesive(ish) narrative? Will we collectively get ready to look at our constitution?
These are the kinds of long-range questions which traditional politics has consistently failed to address. The working model of current parties is not to engage us and make political power accessible, and their vision barely extends beyond the day they ‘win the election’. As it stands, because most of us are not connected to the decision-making process the vision for Aotearoa (if there is one) is not held collectively but rather by a handful of politicians who are clouded by their first and foremost concern which is getting your vote. As we can see, this doesn’t create an environment where long term vision and collaboration thrives.
OneAction presents an entirely different approach to politics – our purpose is to connect as many everyday New Zealanders as possible, directly to politics and political decisions – not necessarily the detailed technical decisions but rather the values and outcome-based decisions which shape the kind of country we want to be. After all, we need at least a rough shared idea of where we want to get to before we can even start on the fraught task of policy making.
People sometimes say to me, “oh the truth is, most people are just not interested in politics”. They see OneAction as a venture pushing the proverbial up hill. Certainly, it’s a fact that most of us are not engaged in politics as it is. And there’s no doubt that this lack of collective direction and will is a massive handbrake on our ability to carefully conserve things that were hard-won, whilst also making progress on the big issues we face.
So, while I’m under no illusion about the current state of political engagement – what I’m suggesting is that if enough of us made a concerted push to cultivate a new political culture – one of listening to each other, collaborating, and finding shared ground, we might be able to break out of the current stalemate, because mate, it is stale!
When we talk about engagement it’s easy to blame the victims of poor politics (i.e. all of us), but we might ask – how practical is it for most of us to engage (in a meaningful way)? As we’ve discussed, our current parties are not on a mission to engage and empower us. They are on a mission to get our vote. That’s not to blame them – it’s just the nature of how they work, it’s all they know. So, we need to build new political vehicles that allow us to take collective responsibility for our direction as an active, self determining, political community.
So, the question is not ‘are people interested in politics as it is?’. The question is – could a substantial number of us get interested in, and build a new kind of politics? A kind of politics which meets under a super-ideology of positive collaboration. OneAction doesn’t ask you to change your ideology or values, rather we invite you to bring them to bear in a meaningful way. So, bring your conservative side and argue for the preservation of the things that we’ve worked so hard for. Bring your progressive side that fights for justice and future generations.
Being a democratic process, by nature, such a project requires very large numbers of people participating for it to be meaningful – both for diversity of viewpoints and experiences, and for acquisition of political power, that is, to pass the 5% threshold to gain seats in Parliament. I would expect that anyone who would want to participate in such a project would want to have part ownership of the organisation. Hence OneAction being a co-operative. All members invest their political power, which is then redistributed back to them through deliberative decision making. With the input and willpower of a very large number of us, this idea to build a better kind of politics could become a reality – even if most only contribute 2 mins per month – that would be sufficient.
I’ve always believed that this idea would need to be powerful enough to carry itself. Is it worth it? Worth showing your support? Worth sharing with someone else? Worth lending your time to?
Of course, the tricky part is – we need to build it first, and that’s a very difficult task. Certainly, it can be done but it’s difficult. That’s why I ask you once again in earnest – this project needs you, not someone else, it needs you. Even if you don’t have time, this project still needs you. Even if it’s a long shot, this project still needs you.
In 2022 will you consider looking at politics in a different way?