Spread it on With a Trowel

Bryan Gould is spreading the Koolaid so thickly, he should be using a trowel. His latest opinion piece is full of praise for our Dear Leader and, not surprisingly, full of condemnation for President Trump.

Democracy is important in many senses. It is first and foremost a form of government – famously described as, “government of the people, by the people and for the people”.

So far, so good.

It is then a process, which enables us to choose our government; that process, of elections and political parties, is often confused with democracy itself, but elections are merely the mechanism by which we deliver the form of government.

Except in New Zealand where we have a mickey-mouse MMP arrangement.

Importantly, democracy also allows us to choose our leaders. Government and leaders are, for this purpose, two quite different concepts. A government makes the laws and implements the policies by which we organise and govern ourselves.

Our leaders, though, are those who represent us, who embody the values we hold and who bring them to life in both the national and international context.

Democracy, in other words, allows us not only to elect those who govern us but also to choose those who represent and lead us. The former choice is very much a political one; the latter much more a personal choice – and we accordingly tend to choose those whom we like, with whom we identify and whose values we share.

Here, the wheels really fall off his premise:

Ardern was not democratically elected to lead the Labour party. The position was dumped on her by Little with little choice and at such a time as the normal rules used in electing a party leader did not apply.

After the General Election results were in, it was clear that neither Ardern nor her party won the popular vote. She was not elected, she was put in place by Winston Peters who wanted utu.

It is this aspect of democracy that is often overlooked, yet that provides us with one of its most valuable benefits. Observers from outside the country will be able to identify the true spirit and temperament of a democratic country by examining the personality of its leader or leaders.

And for us at home, democracy produces leaders with whom we are happy and whom we trust. The choice we make tells us something about ourselves and is therefore in some senses an exercise in self-respect. The more we respect ourselves, the greater the care we will take to elect leaders who represent us and who, in embodying our values, seem to deserve our respect.

Good grief, man! Were you not here at the time? We did not elect Ardern to lead us. She was selected by one man (Little) then selected by another man (Peters).

No elections were harmed in the making of this appalling situation.

The personal qualities of our recent leaders in New Zealand tend to bear out this analysis. Whether it be the charm, warmth and bonhomie of a John Key or the compassion, concern for others and inclusiveness of a Jacinda Ardern, it can be argued that we have chosen leaders whose qualities not only resonate with us but which are applauded by our friends overseas.

There can be little doubt that Jacinda Ardern’s profile has greatly benefited New Zealand’s international standing. When our sportspeople perform well at international competitions – World Cups and the like – the good impression created by our prowess on the sports field reinforces the impression given of our national characteristics by those whom we elect to represent us in international forums.

We can afford to feel proud of our leaders on the basis that they provide an accurate reflection of the qualities we value in ourselves. Democracy allows us both to demonstrate our own self-respect and the qualities on which that self-respect is based.

We are not of course alone in choosing leaders who demonstrate qualities of which we can be proud. But our example does make it all the more puzzling that some of our friends overseas do not take the same opportunity.

Then follows the anti-Trump rant that I will spare you from. Perhaps he had used his word count, I was surprised that Boris wasn’t slammed as well.

[…] Given that we are not about to lend [US voters] Jacinda, we must hope that they can discover by themselves how to restore the foundations of what “made America great” in the first place.

A Newspaper

The Aussies want her, now Gould is suggesting the Yanks might want her. Anyone can have her – she is of very little use here.