Election nights are great.
As one of my friends on facebook noted it’s one of the few times that geeks ca spend Saturday night sitting in front of the TV computer screen and not feel ashamed for doing so.
Despite spending election night at the Red Team’s HQ over in Mount Roskill, presumably in the thick of the action, in true geek form I was still glued to a computer screen most of the night watching the results unfold. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more different since the last time I went to one of these shindigs back in 2002. When you arrive to see more media than supporters you know it’s not going to be a good night for the team.
Of course election night is a social event, well as much as it can be when you are watching the political tide go out on the hopes of people you care about.But it was fantastic to catch up with a lot of my friends who had been busy running campaigns while study burdens for me had limited my involvement to babysitting candidate’s children. There were moments of edification. Seeing one of my buddies give an excellent speech beamed live on both major channels was very awesome. However those moments were few and far between.
So it was very easy to get despondent at the result and sure enough I spotted some nastiness on twitter this morning.But what impressed me were the people who actually put themselves on the line being so gracious in spite of the online silliness.
I always look in on elections with a mixture of bewilderment and awe at anyone who is mad enough to put themselves up for public office. More so for the people tolling away in unwinnable seats or unwinnable places on lists because someone needs to fly the flag and they drew the short straw. They more than anyone know that the bothersome thing about principles is that they only mean something if you stand by them when they are inconvenient.
I’m sure in the next few months there will be comments made especially to teachers who have problems with the new government’s education agenda that it would be convenient for everyone if they could just get with the programme. But the thing is democracy isn’t just about voting, although voting is an important part of democracy. Democracy also means to think critically, question our leaders and protest decisions we feel are unjust, wrong or harmful.
A few days before the election, I went out to Albany to hear Steve Wheeler talk about a very different vision of education from the one that was endorsed yesterday. What I took out of that lecture was the idea of positive deviants, people willing to go against the grain to ask questions and promote positive change.
We need those positive deviants. In fact I would argue that challenging the status quo isn’t just our democratic right but our duty as citizens.
So here’s to the postive deviants in all their shapes and forms.