Is NZ ready for a Trump (or Sanders)?

Following on from their research that shows about a quarter of current MPs have only worked as political insiders Geoffrey Miller and Mark Blackham suggest this could lead to the rise of a New Zealand version of Donald Trump.

Comparisons have already been attempted by others between Trump and Winston Peters, and it’s worth noting that NZ First are unusually high in mid-term polls.

Is New Zealand ready for its own Donald Trump?

An estrangement between the political establishment and ordinary voters is one reason for Donald Trump’s popularity in the US. A gulf is growing between politicians and voters in New Zealand, too, inviting a similar backlash here.

Our recent study of the careers of New Zealand politicians reveals the idea that MPs come from all walks of life in the community to serve in public office is now a myth. Instead, we are witnessing the growth and dominance of our own “political class” – a group of people who have only ever known a working life in politics and Government.

Our analysis reveals the main path to Parliament is to be born into the middle class, go to university, spend a short time in work, then get elected via party manoeuvring on to a list or into an electorate.

Parallel to the growing political class where it has become common for MPs to be effectively promoted from within party organisations is a growing public disinterest in politics and in voting..

Being an MP is now a job, not a calling. This similarity of backgrounds, experiences and political careers reinforces the beltway paradigm of bland, uninspiring policies with little appetite for risk.

We have a blanding of politics coupled with over the top attacks on opponents that often lack substance and credibility.

Now, despite a Parliament more reflective of society in terms of gender and ethnicity, it overwhelmingly favours middle class men and women who view their first jobs merely as a strategy to gain “real-world” experience to propel them into politics.

Over time, we can expect this phenomenon to generate more career politicians – people whose whole working lives have been in politics.

This has already happened in the US. In 1965, no member of Congress or the Senate had previously worked in politics. By 2013, people with political careers formed half of Congress and 40 per cent of the Senate.

The beltway recipe mixes the same ingredients of people in the same bowl of thinking and every election serves it to the public with a different garnish. Now, we are seeing Donald Trump confronting the American political establishment.

In some ways Peters has been battling the political establishment for decades, but he has also been closely involved with the establishment, joining both National and Labour in coalitions and not ruling out doing future coalition details if he gets the opportunity

Could New Zealand see the rise of its own Trump?

Our study’s findings show the ground is being laid for one. Across the political spectrum, our MPs’ lack of life experience is already creating a jarring political culture that increasingly bears little resemblance to the lives of voters.

Populists like Trump are extreme reactions to the very real inadequacies of the current political choices on offer.

If New Zealand’s political elites do not want to face a challenger to their own dominance, they need to start becoming more like the people they represent.

Doing so will be painful, but not as painful as staring down at a rampaging populist who will do it for them.

One thing markedly different in New Zealand compared to the US where trump and Sanders have both challenged the political establishments, and Corbyn is doing likewise in the UK, is that we have MMP.

Will MMP ensure bland diversity here, or is there a way a political maverick could make waves here?

Last election Kim Dotcom tried exactly that with huge funding but failed, and dragged down another maverick with him, Hone Harawira, but there were a number of serious negatives surrounding Dotcom.

Andrew Little seems to have lost his chance of fitting the maverick profile.

I doubt there’s much chance of a Trump-like rising in New Zealand.

But what about a Sanders? A decent well meaning politician who can tap successfully into social media support and capitalise on public sentiment?

I’d certainly prefer a Sanders here to a Trump. He/She and their party wouldn’t have to compete with National, they would just have to beat the 5% threshold and be seen as a credible holder of the balance of power.

It could be a sleeper MP who has the gumption to launch into something different and meaningful. Or it could be a political outsider.

But it needs someone who can take a team with them and stand out as a good alternative to the bland political class we have now.

Leave a comment

42 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  24th April 2016

    Will Clinton vs Trump be the State vs the People?

    Seems like it. And seems Trump has recovered from his blunders.

    Reply
    • artcroft

       /  24th April 2016

      That’s a lot of blunders which Clinton will replay constantly during the presidential election race. Hard to believe that the general public hate Clinton so much they’ll vote for such an obvious charlatan as Trump.

      Reply
  2. Kevin

     /  24th April 2016

    Isn’t Winston a kind of Trump-lite for folks over 70?

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  24th April 2016

      It’s too sick-making to see his sycophantic groupies braying at his meaningless or ancient ‘jokes’.

      What has 40 legs and no teeth ?

      The front row at an NZ First conference.

      Reply
  3. jamie

     /  24th April 2016

    I saw this video the other day and found it interesting.

    The first half is general commentary on the appeal of Trump and Sanders and Clinton, and touches briefly on something Alan mentioned recently about choosing what taxes are spent on.

    The Second part talks about multiculturalism and reminded me of some of kiwiguy’s ideas (but without all the rudeness and aggression 😀 )

    Contains some casual profanity but nothing too awful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ek7FduXg_Q

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  24th April 2016

    It’s pretty hard to see any chink.of light on the Left of Labour, Greens and Mana that a Sanders could fill. Also the longer they have been powerless the less they are identified with the establishment. Clinton is a completely different target.

    Reply
  5. Conspiratoor

     /  24th April 2016

    We are long overdue for a Trump. it is not so much the Donald but what he is saying that resonates with Americans. In him they see a politician who is not afraid to address their concerns

    Here’s a starter for 10% support right out of the blocks. In no particular order

    Learn from japan and accept immigrants only from countries with a culture similar to our own and who have proven themselves able to integrate. impose a quota on the rest
    Accept refugees only from persecuted minorities
    Ban the burka
    Be honest in confronting the realities of snuggling up to china and impose reciprocal property rights on them
    Introduce some Singapore style justice to the burgeoning drug industry
    Do what it takes to turn a prison sentence into a deterrent
    Outlaw criminal gangs
    Annul ‘the treaty of waitangi act’ and disband the gravy train. Remove all reference to it from legislation. Let the bastards bleat, the louder the better
    Support the kiwi battler and and withdraw support for bludgers
    Put Auckland council into administration

    Reply
    • artcroft

       /  24th April 2016

      Isn’t that current NZF policy?

      Reply
      • Brown

         /  24th April 2016

        The trouble with NZF is that they say all sorts of things but will never do what they say. Winston’s interest in anything starts and stops with his own pocket.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  24th April 2016

          Winston’s got his target markets sorted and his strategy’s perfect. Their policies are all aimed at different segments of the electorate,mostly older kiwis, no costings, no overall philosophy that I can see except that we are all New Zealanders – so he even targets the anti-bi-culturals. He knows he won’t have to actually implement any of them because they’ll only ever be a minor party, even if in coalition. I’m more interested in what NZF might be like without Winston, especially if Labour never gets its act together.

          Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  24th April 2016

      Prison will never be a deterrent, because criminals don’t think that they’ll be caught.

      America’s murder rate is many times ours. yet a lot of states still have the death penalty.

      The other things don’t sound much like the Land of the Free and Give me your tired, your huddled masses or however it goes.

      Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  24th April 2016

        KC you sound like a casualty of 35 years of politically correct indoctrination

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  24th April 2016

          Not at all. If criminals believed that they were definitely going to be caught, they probably wouldn’t do the crime-that’s obvious. Most of them must think that they’ll get away with it. The death penalty hasn’t been a deterrent in the US, and if anything should be, that should. But the people doing the killings are not, I would guess, thinking that these will result in them being killed themselves-who’d think that it was worth it ? Not me. (I wouldn’t murder anyone anyway, but if I believed that it was a sure and certain way to be given a horrible death myself-forget it.)

          When you were little, did you think that your mother would know that it was you who ate the last of the chocolate biscuits ?

          If all people have equal rights, why shouldn’t Muslim women be able to wear what they like ? Western women can walk around with almost everything on display-including big flabby bellies hanging down (ick) and boobs almost falling out of their tops.Why shouldn’t Muslim women be able to cover up ? Why do people get all excited about this ?

          Good luck with outlawing criminal gangs-if it could be done, it would have been,

          Reply
          • jamie

             /  25th April 2016

            To add to your well made points about the deterrent factor:

            Murder often happens in a flash of rage, in the heat of passion, in a sudden reaction, in an emotional outburst.

            The idea weighing the probability of getting caught probably isn’t realistic in these instances.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  25th April 2016

              Yes, but if someone came into the room, I wonder how many people would go on doing it-or how many do it in full view of other people to start with.

              It would take some doing to beat someone to death or even to stab them in the right place as most people wouldn’t stand still and let you do it.

              With other crimes, I don’t believe that the people think that they’ll be caught, so for many criminals no kind of prison would be a deterrent.

              You’d wonder what kind of idiot steals a car and then draws attention to themselves by going through red lights and having a lovely studio portrait taken of themselves or breaks in somewhere and gapes into the security camera ! I never would steal a car, but if I DID…I’d try not to attract any attention to myself. I’d drive within the speed limit, stop at lights and generally be the most law-abiding person on the road…and I would NOT, repeat NOT. take a video of myself breaking into the car and driving like a bat out of hell. It must be a handy record for the boys in blue, of course. Some mothers do ‘ave ’em.

              Remember the dimwit who went to the music shop, left his name, address and phone number for an out of stock CD….looked full into the CCTV and leaned over and took the money from the till ?

  6. Corky

     /  24th April 2016

    Its inevitable we eventually have a Trump like leader/ dictator. All the ingredients are present in our country at the moment: We’re living on borrowed money, tinder dry race and immigration issues, a huge underclass who believe they are being shafted because they are ignorant of how horrendous the lives are of other poor around the world, a sense of entitlement many have, plus a generation of people who can’t think outside the confines of social media; who have no conception of the real world around them. The perceived Waitangi Gravy Train and Maoris push to control water.

    And of course the elephant forever in the room- the global economy, come recession. Even if you know little about economics, that fact America will never be able to pay its debt is all you need to know.

    At the moment our government juggles keeping most people reasonably happy. They may grumble, but they aren’t lashing out…yet. It can’t last. I think many subconsciously know we are in for a huge upheaval. And that will open the door to our Trump.

    New Zealand is a small country, It wouldn’t be hard to control by fair means, or foul. Look at what Hitler did with the Weimar Republic. Democracy was subverted and ultimately failed.
    Don’t believe Crowded House when they sing ” History Never Repeats”

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  24th April 2016

      Er…Split Enz. And the singer is telling himself something that he doesn’t really believe, That line always jars on me; it doesn’t make sense. Repeats what ?

      I’d be surprised if we ended with a Trump or Hitler-may God forbid. I think that a Trump would be too damned bossy and a Hitler too dictatorial and egotistical (Trump, too) Nobody’s going to want to name every town in the country after someone, or make up a version of Silent Night that you’d wonder anyone could sing with a straight face, it’s so bumcrawling.Yes, it’s all about our wonderful leader and I’m glad that I can’t remember it.

      One of the women charged with aiding and abetting the genocide said that she would never steal anything-never had, was taught as a child that it was illegal, Not wrong, illegal. But the mass murder WAS legal, so she did her part. What sort of person won’t pinch a bar of chocolate but will assist in mass murder ?

      I can’t see Kiwis being prepared as a whole to be like the Hitler-worshippers.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  24th April 2016

        First as tragedy, then as farce?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  24th April 2016

          I have heard that his loony female adorers picked up gravel that he’d walked on….and ate it. I hope it made their insides feel dreadful, the silly cows.One would take forever to pass that out-they probably wrecked their digestions for life. Serve them right.

          Reply
      • Corky

         /  25th April 2016

        Three things, KittyCat.

        1- Allow for a bit of poetic licence re “history never repeats”
        2- Study this German time period. Germany was a more sophisticated society than we are today. Yet many became murderers.
        3- Ain’t Karma a bitch ( re Muslim invasion destroying Germany)

        Reply
  7. Brown

     /  24th April 2016

    I think we don’t have a space foe a Sanders here because we are already further left than the US – and that’s to National’s shame. Labour and the Greens are even further left than National (Labour only since they had to find a point of difference) and terrify enough to make them unelectable.

    I suspect there’s not space for a Trump either as we have a different culture to the US. We do not have a history of independence and do not not have a visionary document like The Constitution. There are a few, like me, who would love to see the whole shambles come unstuck and rebuild something like the US of old but most are happy enough with the status quo to grizzle and stop there. There is no call for real change because most do not have a vision of freedom – the welfare state is too comfortable and few have known different.

    Eventually economics will bring about a change but by that time change will be very messy as it always is when you delay required surgery. At that point most people will become conservative and follow a hard man because that will be what is required. The progressives will wilt in the face of reality replacing virtual reality.

    I think Mark Twain was correct when he said the following,

    “Look at the tyranny of party — at what is called party allegiance, party loyalty — a snare invented by designing men for selfish purposes — and which turns voters into chattles, slaves, rabbits, and all the while their masters, and they themselves are shouting rubbish about liberty, independence, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, honestly unconscious of the fantastic contradiction; and forgetting or ignoring that their fathers and the churches shouted the same blasphemies a generation earlier when they were closing their doors against the hunted slave, beating his handful of humane defenders with Bible texts and billies, and pocketing the insults and licking the shoes of his Southern master.”

    When I watch the adoring fans of politicians celebrating being lied to I feel sorry for them – they are fools.

    Reply
    • Great analysis Brown. I agree with much of what you’ve said and I love the Twain quote.

      Should note that the two principals of BlacklandPR are both former Labour Party staffers and employees. I didn’t see that noted anywhere in the Herald.

      I would change “they are fools” to … They celebrate intellectual chains as if they represent freedom.

      Have a great Sunday!

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  24th April 2016

        I find it very judgemental and unChristian to call people liars with no evidence. Judge not lest ye be judged and all that. It’s also insulting to assume that everyone who votes is too stupid to know that they’re being lied to all the time-which they aren’t. of course.

        As for calling people fools; Whoever shall say, Thou fool, is in danger of hellfire.(Matt 5:22)

        Reply
        • The lie is that the state pretends to be a legitimate form of government. The NZ state has never honoured the rule of law in its assertion of sovereignty.

          Reply
  8. Gezza

     /  24th April 2016

    Our best example of a New Zealand Trump is Bob Jones and his New Zealand party. Ironically he’s a property magnate too. They didn’t win any seats but they split the National vote and caused the downfall of Muldoon – which was Jones’ avowed intention.

    Reply
    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  24th April 2016

      Good point – I remember plenty of people (mostly National supporters) were swayed by Bob Jones’ hard talking ‘straight up’ style. Fools the lot of them.

      http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/bob-jones

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  24th April 2016

        no flies on you pantsie..you adore Wall Streets NZ ambassador …who has borrowed over 100 billion…more liability in 8 yrs than in the entire history of NZ!…History will show this homo…sapien is the worst P.M our wonderful country ever had.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  24th April 2016

          You are probably completely wrong about that as well, Blazer. But Little could quite possibly go down as the worst P.M. NZ never had.

          Reply
    • Corky

       /  25th April 2016

      Ironic they were mates.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  25th April 2016

        Accent on were. If I remember correctly Muldoon called Jones’ supporters “the greedies”.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  25th April 2016

          They were friends.
          They became enemies ( Jones sued Muldoon)
          They parted friends.

          “Memories of Muldoon by Bob Jones.”

          One of the best books I have ever read ( yet it shouldn’t have been) for the insights into our cowardly news media, and human fragility in general. Joneses public retort to Simon Upton for writing an unfair mocking article on Muldoon is the best I have ever read.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  25th April 2016

            I didn’t know they reconnected. Thanks Corky.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  25th April 2016

              Muldoon could look down the barrel of a tv camera and terrify you in your own living room.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  25th April 2016

              I visited Parliament as a student and saw Muldoon in action in opposition. I thought NZ voters would never be silly enough to elect him as PM. I was wrong.

            • Corky

               /  25th April 2016

              True, lol. I miss that bulldog stare. Here’s the only review on Amazon for the above book. Hope this adds a bit of lightness to a sad day:

              Top Customer Reviews

              5.0 out of 5 stars Bob Jones Does It Again
              By Zefron Diablo Vegas Montoya on July 28, 2001
              Format: Hardcover

              “The greatest man in New Zealand reviews the second greatest man of that sad country.
              Bob Jones shows his greatness by speaking highly of the man he toppled from the Treasury benches in 1984.
              New Zealand must elect this great man its first president when it becomes a republic.”

              Sad country!!!! Son of a……

            • Gezza

               /  25th April 2016

              You can’t be right about everything Alan.

            • Gezza

               /  25th April 2016

              Muldoon walked past me coming down the gangway in the old Wellington airport one day. I couldn’t get over how short he was. He looked taller on tv. TV journalists didn’t interview Muldoon: he interviewed them. 🙂

  9. Conspiratoor

     /  24th April 2016

    I find myself agreeing with my good friend Cameron – ‘As long as the right keeps drawing talent from experience and real life, rather than trade unions, academia and activism, an emergence of a NZ Trump is unlikely’

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  24th April 2016

      Let’s hope so-he’s such a blowbag, and skiting blowbags have never been our scene.

      I bet that Cameron pinched that from someone else.

      Reply
      • Brown

         /  25th April 2016

        That’s a bit un-Christian calling someone a blow bag etc and claiming they are not our scene.

        Ooops. I just realised that being a Christian means that the rules around being nice apply to me but not to thee. I must try harder to be more sanctimonious.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  25th April 2016

      all the things mentioned are ‘real life’.The slug has never had an original idea in his life.

      Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  25th April 2016

        yep. nothing original and yet he manages to sweep the media awards. The man is a freak!

        Reply

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