Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Third-term-itis

So. Every time I ask a John Key supporter why they are voting National next election, I am left confunded with the answer:

"It's time for a change."

When questioned they inevitably say something along the lines of:

"Well, Helen's done her run, you know, it's good to chuck out governments every few years."

No it is not. Imagine, how much money and time is wasted going back and forth with budgets and legislation in two somewhat polar moral directions. Changing student loan entitlements every few terms, for example. Yes, society changes and laws need to change to accomodate the growing population, etc, but it is such a downer to realise that not-so-long-ago there were no student loans. I think what I'm trying to say with this example is that it creates a lack of faith in the system, when the system is changing all the time, and is a bitch to understand.

After a while, people start to forget altogether what it is the government does, they become bad at filling in forms and even worse at understanding the news, and they forget what previous administrations have done. Come election time people say things like,

"Oh, let's vote National shall we, get rid of that NCEA thing." (Erm, National introduced NCEA)

There are myriads of examples of political ignorance; which I'm sure have been witnessed, rather than demonstrated, by the type of people that read this.

People like myself, for example, who didn't know a thing about politics until the year 2000, if that. I can't remember what a National-led government was like, because I was only 12 years old the last time such a ghastly thing happened. (Young people are in grave danger of being succeptible to Key)

People also get sick of seeing the same old broken veined politicians on TV, and even though they do a decent job, they inevitably get older and uglier and more weary looking, so the solution seems to be: vote for a different party.

The politicians in power eventually grow more arrogant and out of touch with the public. In the worst cases, they become corrupt and cynical.

These phenomenons are all symptoms of Third-Term-Itis and the result means a change of government for New Zealand. But not necessarily for the best reasons.

Wouldn't it be more effective to have a renewal of cabinet, and change party leaders more often? I guess the problem with politics is that most politicians don't know when it's time to step down. It's human nature. And I think the media has had a definite part to play in all this; always targeting politicians with an "us versus them" kind of mentality and showing a preference for news that is entertainment rather than information based. Nevertheless, voter turnout and political awareness has gone down, and cynicism has gone up. (Although I don't know where I can find figures for that)

And the idea that it's "time for a change" is merely a catch phrase - in New Zealand's case anyway.

Why change the government when unemployment is at its lowest in 28 years, we are ranked as having the 5th highest standard of living in the world, crime is down, and the economy is growing?

Things are not perfect, but they are a damn sight better than they used to be since around the mid-90's, at least according to the MSD's latest social report.

It's okay to say that it's time for a change if the government has done a lousy job - but in all fairness I think even an (intelligent) National supporter could agree that it hasn't been a complete disaster - the latest social report, regardless of the fact that it was written by the government, does have some very positive indicators. And it's not just the report, there are other things. Which would take me hours to write about, like the fact that I can swim in my local beach and know that I won't be getting poisoned any time soon. People from around the world are constantly telling me that we don't know what we have here, my own cousin got back from the UK yesterday and said that there is almost nowhere in the world as clean and safe as New Zealand.

Emotional language, but I think I've made my point.

I think it's about time that people start having good reasons for voting National.

2 comments:

Diving into the wreck said...

Well said my dear,

libertyscott said...

"I can't remember what a National-led government was like, because I was only 12 years old the last time such a ghastly thing happened"

So you can judge something though you can't remember hmmm.

The real point though is people should have good reasons for voting Labour saying "it hasn't been a complete disaster" is no ringing endorsement.

Labour has largely maintained the economic policy status quo of the 80s and 90s, and has grown the state. At a time of record commodity prices, sowing the rewards of a more open economy that you didn't create isn't rocket science. However, you might wonder why GDP per capita still remains abysmal by OECD standards, something most kiwis don't notice until they travel and see how little the $NZ buys in imports.