Time to counter political trend

Donald Trump will be the 45th US President from January. Photo: Reuters
Donald Trump will be the 45th US President from January. Photo: Reuters

Ian Munro writes of his feelings on the current political climate, and how it may affect our youngsters.

So it’s to be President Trump. While I hoped it wasn’t to be, a little niggle told me it probably would.

I spent some time in the UK in the lead-up to Brexit, and can see that many of the same issues played a role in the US election —  immigration, economic hardship, racial issues, lack of jobs and a nationalistic desire to cut the country off from the influences of the outside world.

In both cases, there was significant manipulation of the voters to the point where a large enough group delivered the unexpected outcome, despite the logic saying they’d more likely be disadvantaged than advantaged.

There was fear that Trump supporters would take to the streets if he lost. He didn’t, they didn’t. Instead Clinton’s and Sander’s supporters did. But this is just the other side of the same coin — "I want what I want and I’ll let you know in strong and unpleasant ways if I don’t get it". A logical outcome in a society based on the economic policies of the past 30 years.

Sadly, we already have the makings of a similar situation here. A politician who’s known to exploit some of these issues and then not necessarily honour his promises: Gareth Morgan talking specifically of riding this same wave of disaffection, though his motives may be different to those of Trump, Neil Farage, Boris Johnson and mates; a generation of 25-35 year olds feeling both hard done by and entitled; and large groups of citizens living in economic hardship who also have concerns about immigrants, racial issues, housing and joblessness.

Very recently, we’ve seen the wife of a National MP elected to a community board. After being sworn in, she walked out when she didn’t get elected to the chairperson position and then publicly attacked the person who did through paid advertising; a physical confrontation between the Labour candidate in the Mt Roskill by-election and his National opponent’s husband; and an unpleasant social media attack on a journalist by Labour’s Phil Twyford, when all that was required was an explanation. Not to mention the "dirty politics" of the last election.

Five months ago, I wrote that we were moving into a post-fact era, where political leaders had scant respect for the truth or for reasoned argument and debate. Now I think we’re there.

And, again, here’s the parenting bit. If we want an open-minded, tolerant, egalitarian and multicultural society, one where our youngsters don’t grow up to become the pawns of politicians, the rich and the powerful, and not cannon fodder for cynical, opportunistic and unscrupulous political leaders, then we have to let our politicians know in no uncertain terms, over the next 12 months, that we won’t tolerate this approach to politics.


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