In response to some great comments in my last post about the US and NZ elections…
Auntie Helen and Cullen made some highly unpopular but incredibly smart decisions by conserving cash in anticipation of lean times ahead. Despite being labeled as lefty socialists, they’ve acted as true fiscal conservatives, while so-called conservatives wanted to give tax hand outs to people that didn’t need them.
Meanwhile, they presided over one of the best periods of economic growth in NZ history. When I arrived in NZ in 2001 Kiwis welcomed me to the 3rd world, wondering why I moved from America to scrape by on the Kiwi-Peso. Helen and Cullen don’t necessarily deserve all the credit for the boom, nevertheless Kiwis did extraordinarily well during their administration. The vast majority of people who whinged about not getting tax cuts were simply being greedy and selfish.
An esteemed colleague of mine says we need to grow the pie, not just slice it up. Helen did both. I doubt John Key will do either. Like self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives in the US, they say one thing and do the complete opposite as beautifully portrayed in this cartoon and this brilliant NY Times interactive chart.
In his speech John Key begrudgingly managed to squeeze in a few obligatory comments about the rest of the country that didn’t vote for him. But he was completely snide in his manner. Ironically, I think that’s what so many people disliked about Helen and Cullen: their manner. Many people voted based on the personalities of the candidates, not their policies.
I don’t think that John Key is the worst person for the job. Brash and English would have been far worse. And it’s not like he’s as evil and devastating as Bush. However, I don’t trust Key. He has contradicted himself far too many times – in shamefully transparent maneuvers to secure votes, never as genuine epiphanies. He brings no new ideas to the table, every idea he has is either old thinking from the bygone century or stolen from Helen. He has no nuance, he see things as black or white, good or bad, and therefore responds with blunt instruments when surgical precision is required. To add insult to injury, he’s partnering with ACT, a party with a truly primeval worldview.
In a time when world leaders, particularly key allies like the US and Oz, were undermining the fundamental tenets of democracy and raiding their economies for the benefit of corporate profiteering Helen defiantly and vocally opposed these tyrants. She defined New Zealand as a bastion of independent spirit and thoughtful leadership in a world gone mad. A special place of enlightened people.
Now that these same allies have finally come to their senses and leapfrogged ahead with brilliant leadership, NZ has arbitrarily reverted to choosing a mediocre, unoriginal, uninspired leader who has no true convictions and no real direction.
It’s a damn shame.