New Zealand is transfixed by the US Presidential election and frustrated by our lack of a say in its outcome.
It’s depressing that it now looks like the next President of the United States will either be a terrible break from the past(Trump) or a septuagenarian return to it(Clinton).
Then again, is that really so different to what voters will face at the local government elections this year?
Auckland for example, is getting a choice between two half-Hillarys and a Trump.
It is not hard to see the establishment-half of Hillary’s persona in Phil Goff.
Phil Goff, the former Secretary of State(well the NZ equivalent anyway) who used to wear huge awkward glasses in the eighties and now miraculously doesn’t need any at all.
A reassuring hand for Aucklanders because he will never be found on non-council business in the Ngati Whatua room.
Then there’s the other-half of Hillary: Victoria Crone, the elect-me-because-I-am-a-sensible-woman half.
True, she’s not running on her gender at this stage but she should probably reconsider, because if she doesn’t run on that then she won’t be running on anything.
And finally there’s Palino, the millionaire North-American celebrity reality-TV star with Trump-esque unfavourability ratings and a similar inability to answer basic questions.
Mind you these might not even be the worst of them.
The local body elections promise to have not just the main characters of the US election but more supporting characters too.
For starters there’s all those who will be running for Council.
Every election, local body races bring out the same personalities.
There’ll be the accountants-turned-taxidermists, attempting to sell their stuffed lifeless paunchy exteriors and their proven ability to add and subtract.
Then the ‘businesspeople’, who will relate everything back to the one time they ran a business.
Or the Southern Baptist Christian refugees: middle-aged white men who once dreamed of a career in central government politics but are now disqualified on the basis of their belief that homosexuals are just pretending.
While usually confined to the comments section of the Stuff or NZ Herald websites(because they literally think the comments section is the only place on the internet where you can make a comment about something) the proximity of a local government election always seems to put a few of these onto the ballot paper.
And, of course, we can’t forget the Community Crazies.
Those self-described as “active” in the community and “passionate” about issues often have a long history of campaigning on local issues such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and the War in Syria, and of talking to the same group of ten people over and over again.
For true politico-holics, there’s even a localised version of the Black Lives Matter movement this election.
Better dubbed the ‘Black Lives Only Sometimes Matter’ movement, they are mostly young mildly educated inoffensive middle class professionals from white-ish ethnicities.
They’re more concerned with campaigning against brutalist architecture than police brutality, even though they’re for everything the brutalist movement stood for(affordable apartments, public transport, and ‘density done well’).
They’re prepared to inundate the internet with several adult-looking reports and memes in the hopes that some media outlet out there will take them seriously.
Think of them as schoolkids attempting to win a Rotary-sponsored speech contest by talking about world peace.
And be gentle with them, they are only children and this is their first foray into politics.
In amidst all of this it seems the best we can hope for is that some central government politician decides to use an Auckland Council seat as his or her retirement plan.
So it’s true that you, as a non-US citizen, cannot vote in the upcoming US election.
That doesn’t mean you won’t get the opportunity to vote for the same candidates.