Occupying Campaign Buses and Wall Street

I like policy politics, I dislike personality politics. Yesterday we went on a cavalcade for the National Party. We decorated our car with blue and white ribbons and blue and silver tinsel and we joined our local MP, Louise Upston, her husband and two of her three kids and some other supporters. We drove around Cambridge and we stopped and became what is affectionately referred to as “Human Hordings.” We held up signs and waved to the passing traffic. We got lots of toots on car horns and waves and even some shouts of “go Louise!” Then  we got on this huge beautiful coach. It is blue and covered in slogans and pictures of John Key. We drove through gorgeous countryside to Putaruru and got off and did some more sign waving. Then we went on to Tokoroa and did some more. Then we came back with one of the lovely ladies involved in the campaign and chatted all the way home. She is doing the food for the workers on election day and I have the job of baking shortbread! Fab. Am already thinking of whether I shall do “N” shapes or ice them blue. Would you eat a shortbread with blue icing?

Anyway, Louise posted a lovely photo of herself with Jessica, her eight year old, on the bus, on her Facebook page last night. I saw how much the kids loved waving signs and how proud they are of their Mum. They were having an absolute blast all day. People started commenting on the photo and accusing her of using her kids to win votes etc. It got really nasty. And that is true of many posts on Facebook at the moment. People don’t comment on the merits, or otherwise, of party policy, they simply rip into anyone with different views. I find that very disheartening. I try not to criticise people I don’t know, particularly on a public forum. I think the way Winston Peters reappears at election time and fools people with his oratory and thinks he’ll hold the balance of power is odious, but I don’t make a personal comment on him, he might be very nice for all I know. I have no intention of ever finding out.

I did enjoy being a human hording. I waved a sign at people in cars and they tooted and waved back. I told the others I may continue to do it for the next six months and change my signs on a regular basis, just for fun.

Do you understand what the Occupy Wall Street protestors want? Any of the sit-in protests around the world? I don’t mean what they are protesting against. They don’t like corporates and bankers making all the money. They think the wealth of the world should be more evenly distributed. I’m sure the refugees in the Sudan would agree with them. But what do they want? For us not to use McDonald’s, Coke, Microsoft, Apple, Nike etc. ever again? Do they ever use iphones to take pictures of themselves ‘sitting in?’ Do the poor not eat McDonald’s or drink Coke? Should we take our money out of banks and put it under our mattresses? It is my understanding that the people at the top of the immense corporations do give away a huge amount of money, they just give to the very poor and the very sick, not the very lazy. I don’t see many lists of goals and positive ways to change the imbalance coming from the tents. No “be the change you want to see in the world” philosophy. If we fire all the CEOs of the banks and the corporations who will make the money to keep the economies of the world ticking over? If these companies collapsed what would happen to all the ordinary workers they employ?

Surely the difference between the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street is that the people who were willing to die for their cause knew what they wanted. They had a dream of what would replace what they despised. Perhaps I’m too much of a conservative to understand, or maybe I am just too old, maybe it is all a reaction to years of financial and political mayhem and everyone is frightened and bitter. Debate the policy, the problem, don’t attack the person. And learn to listen.

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