I’ve always agreed with Edgar Allen Poe when he said that false hope was better than no hope at all, especially when it comes to watching election results. And I’ve been very privileged to see those results roll in while talking politics on air at Free FM and when I was writing for the Waikato Times and somehow I still have hope for the future election results as well.
But one thing has become abundantly clear to me since I moved away from Hamilton – Hamilton voters are, at best horribly ill informed, or at worst willfully ignorant when it comes to who they vote for.
When I tell people I come from Hamilton I get one of two reactions, always tinged with pity. It’s either “oh are you anti-science then?” or “thank god you escaped” – and no matter how much I try to educate people that Hamilton is far from a cultural and scientific wasteland, there’s always that unwillingness to believe. “If Hamilton is as good as you say, then why do people vote in councilors who are antivaccination, or racist, or homophobic, or overly religious or old white dudes who will die in the job?”
And the only answer I can give is because Hamilton voters don’t seem to do their own research into candidates. For the first place in Aotearoa to get the internet, a surprisingly large amount of voters still don’t seem to use it to research candidates at election time. That’s why we see such outrage when this publicly available information hits the news – because voters based their choices on name recognition and a booklet they get. Well the 33% of voters who actually voted that is.
As someone who wants so desperately to be proud of my home town, I will always hold out hope that voters will see that the bevy of intelligent, clever, creative, passionate, diverse people putting their hand up at election time is something to support because what Hamilton really deserves is to be represented by people who personify what the city is – intelligent, clever, creative, passionate and diverse.