We’ve all heard the old aphorism:
If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re 40, you have no head.
For the 21st Century it needs extending:
“If you’re either of the above when you’re 60 you haven’t been paying attention.”
Our political and economic system is morally and intellectually bankrupt. In the United States, Mr “Yes we can” Obama has been snookered by the system and hasn’t had the political courage to fight back. Here in New Zealand, John Key’s government seems to be able to retain popular support while doing absolutely nothing to get the country out of the morass it’s been in for decades.
I confess. I voted for Mr Key’s party. Not because I agreed with his pre-election policies. I voted for him because he was the least unpalatable alternative and I had the forlorn and perverse hope that his government—just like every other would-be government in living memory—would go back on their election pledges. I thought that perhaps he had a cunning plan. There was a glimmer of hope that he would do what needed to be done.
He had no plan.
He won’t do what has to done.
He’s not going to fix anything. He’s not going to enable New Zealand to catch up with Australia. This government doesn’t have the desire, the courage, or the intellectual capacity to make the changes that his almost unprecedented popularity and political capital would have allowed him to accomplish. Mr Key had such a mandate in the post-election opinion polls that he could have gone to the electorate and said:
“The system is broken. We need to spend a decade tightening our belts and fixing it. We need to make wholesale changes for the benefit of our grandchildren. To do this I will need to go back on my pre-election promises. I’m therefore calling for a new election. Give me a mandate and I will do everything I possibly can to build a new and better New Zealand and to stem the flow of our the best and brightest to Australia, Europe and America.”
We can dream.
Our political system—here in New Zealand, and in the USA, the UK, and some other Western democracies—has become ossified. Left/right dogma; policy development predicated only upon winning the next election; lack of personal integrity and vision; failure to understand economics. These and other failings have left us indebted, dissatisfied and gradually falling behind the rest of the world.
We need to rewrite the rules.