2020 Election

I was pretty vocal prior to last election with my thoughts and preferences. There seems to be enough opinion-writing and for whatever reason I haven’t felt in the mood this time around. But a few quick thoughts, if you’re interested.

Very happy with government response to all of the crises faced during the last few years, which have been significant. We can’t underestimate the power and importance of a leader who can act as a vessel for the thoughts and feelings of a nation. I’ve been grateful for Labour’s efforts and Jacinda’s leadership. Then again, as a major party, the expectation should always be that they can rise to such a challenge and protect New Zealanders.

– Greens and Labour continue to have good ideas but sometimes it feels a bit ideologically rigid, business-like (dare I say ‘neoliberal’) and potentially not economically sound – they tout the benefits a policy will have on our “brand”, which is a reasonable strategy, but one I don’t generally warm to as it sounds very ‘Public Relations’ and a little disconnected from real people’s everyday experience. They are aspirational though, which is good and necessary.

– National clearly don’t have a policy set worth voting for, unless you count ‘Tech’ as a comprehensive and convincing programme. They will do well now with Judith, who was always going to be more effective than we believed.

– Politics is unfortunately part style. Jacinda’s style, her “brand” is beginning to wear a little thin, to those who see the part that is a deliberate persona. There is a real risk of pushing a style too far and beginning to appear disingenuous and frustrating, and Jacinda needs to be mindful of this. I bet Jacinda is great to talk to in non public-facing or more intimate situations, and is clearly a good person. Judith is clearly a bitter and resentful person, but is also an effective foil for Jacinda’s more forced rhetorical style. This needs to be monitored closely.

– While the Maori Party has launched with some bombast and bold policies, I suspect some of this is the need to make a splash after being electorally wiped out by the Labour Party. That action still bothers me a great deal and points to a hypocrisy within Labour. Their actions were not necessarily malicious and were perfectly in line with election rules and conduct – but they weren’t in the spirit of the Treaty, and they do not honour the important concept of Mana Maori Motuhake. So there is a part of me that feels this damage needs to be repaired.

– TOP remain with the best policy ideas. After some inner strife, Geoff took control and did well turning the ship around. Their best gift to the NZ public is a hyper-focus on the tired Establishment political strategy of giving preference to preserving a demographic or voting base over enacting the most rational policy, for example over 65’s and Superannuation reform, or people with property and Housing reform. That honesty points to a better politics. I have no doubt that they will one day be a force in NZ politics, if not very soon, and will be a compassionate and rational glue within the MMP system.

– ACT at 8% today points to what I believe is an underappreciated fervency and ‘nerdiness’ of Libertarian conservatives, who think they live in the United States and that everyone is outraged by fiscal variables. These people exist, are often young, and are adored by older Conservatives who rightly see the potential benefit on their tax bill and so provide them with moral and material support. It’s weird, and it’s taking an inordinate chunk of MMP.

– NZ First at 2% is welcome. Winston is becoming ever more self-contradictory and has often acted as a brake on important policy. Shane Jones is an exasperating blow-hard. Ron Mark, the Defense minister, wears a cowboy hat for christ’s sake, and was ignominiously involved with the Afghanistan raid, excellently covered in Nicky Hager’s ‘Hit and Run’. These are not people we want around.

So for me it’s a Maori Party, TOP toss-up. I also know that TOP supports my vote for the Maori Party, which is nice. As a NZ/Maori I figure this is why I’m torn. Maybe I won’t know until I get in the booth. Elections aye, exiciting!

Get out and vote.

Author: Todd

Hello, thanks for reading. My name is Todd and I'm a 30 year old NZ Maori trainee doctor in Psychiatry. I have a passion for Mental Health, particularly in low-resource settings, and the existential and humanist schools are what provide me with the organising principles to help understand my patients - their hopes, their fears, their dreams and the inner tyrannies under which they often suffer. I have a background in advocating for evidence-based policy solutions and have always maintained an active interest in NZ and international politics - in particular the dynamics between psychology, politics and dominant power systems. Central to my belief is the sanctity and inherent mana of all people and the need be eternally wary of ideologies that reduce them to simple nodes within enormous and fundamentally dehumanising systems. I feel that the history of modern politics and individual and social psychology is the constant tension of this dialectic. We are "human, all too human" and the affirmation of our essential humanness is the common thread in my work. When I was once overwhelmed by the terrible things people can do to one another, someone important to me said, "don't scream at the darkness, light a candle." I hope these pieces are each a candle - all part of the many I hope to light on this wonderful journey. Many thanks and happy reading Todd

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