Monday, September 8, 2014

NZ Voters: A Fresh Argument For Your Consideration

This is my argument of last resort.

I would have thought the actions of the National-led coalition with ACT and United Future over the last several years would have sufficiently angered the people of New Zealand to finally vote them out.

Fiscal mismanagement, in the form of a five-fold increase in our country's debt. Raising GST after promising not to raise taxes. A series of ruinous asset sales.

Disaster after disaster in education, from the Novopay debacle to plummeting OECD ratings and all points in between.

The Christchurch rebuild nightmare. The TPPA. Outlawing public input on deep-sea oil drilling. And on, and on. You many not care about all of these policies, but surely at least one gets a moderate voter's hackles up?

But: no.

I would have thought the very real threat of a third-term National government entering into coalition with the Conservative Party would have been enough. If their anti-gay, pro-child smacking policies don't bother you, and Colin Craig's fake moon-landing theories don't give you pause, the fact that even their right-wing buddies in ACT are pointing out just how ruinous their binding referenda policy might be should give cause for concern (and also give lie to the notion that a right-wing coalition would work in unison).

But: no.

I would have thought that the revelations of corruption in Dirty Politics, and the subsequent revelations by hacker RawShark, would have meant the dismissal of National from Parliament in this election was a fait accompli. Regardless of your stance on the ethics of hacking, the allegations have been serious enough for Judith Collins to step down as Minister of Justice and for multiple high-level governmental investigations to take place. This, after previous resignations by Maurice Williamson and John Banks, should send the message that, regardless of your policy stance, the current government needs a reset button to flush out corruption.

But after a small bump downward, National's polling has stabilized.

Kim Dotcom promises a September 15th "surprise" - but let's be honest. The fact is that he could reveal pictures of John Key crushing an infant's skull with his shoe and most voters would still be all like:

b) "Labour probably does it, too, so whateves"
c) "he still seems like such a nice guy!"

So, I only have one trick left up my sleeve. As an immigrant from America, I've noticed something about you as a people over the last ten years, a core Kiwi value, deeper than "giving people a fair go" or "number 8 wire mentality" or "going mad over Boxing Day sales". And that's making fun of Americans.

Look, I'm not offended. I know, deep down, y'all basically like Americans, otherwise you wouldn't spend so much time supporting them. Whether you're part of the mainstream who eats at KFC and makes TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION the #1 movie of 2014 in this country, or part of a counter-culture who mocks those things while quaffing Portland-brewed beers and watching Jim Jarmusch movies, New Zealand collectively votes Team America every day with its dollar. But every night over the past few years, I've watched as you get on Facebook and find fresh idiocies with which to bash American culture, even as the local government humiliates itself daily during Question Time without comment. (Well, except the time Shearer showed up with those fish.)

Just to be clear: I'm not defending America's rampant cultural imperialism, or unfortunate tendency to invade random countries at the drop of a hat, or simmering institutionalized racial injustice. I'm defending my adopted home country's right to bash America!

And the linchpin argument for the last ten years has been, as I'm so oft-reminded: America elected George W. Bush! Twice! To which, historically speaking, any American's only reasonable response can be a feeble shrug.

In 2011, you - my fellow New Zealanders (I'm a permanent resident, and I vote here) - stretched this to near breaking point by re-electing John Key and the National Party. But you skated by on a technicality - America has four-year terms for President, you have three year terms (roughly) for Parliament. So technically, you can still say that you've done better than America.

In 2014, if you make the wrong decision, you have lost that technicality. Eight years of Bush? Nine years of National. Enough said. You'll have to bow your head, look inwards, and say: where, as a country, did we go wrong? How did we betray our core value and lose our moral superiority over America? Where has our laughter gone?

I know, more than most, what it would mean to this country to lose these bragging rights. A national identity crisis is the only logical outcome, a malaise like none this country has seen.

It's not too late to make a difference. Vote strategically to ensure a Labour-led coalition, and this dire fate can be averted.