If it looks or sounds like Trump…(or Peters or Bridges)

Winston Peters blasted the media ((yet again) for publishing stories that exposed him and NZ First’s Foundation that seems to be a devise to hide donations, He said that when he returned from an overseas trip he (actually ‘we’) would “sort out the media.”

Simon Bridges has been promoting PR/policy that is divisive and of questionable integrity.

They are nowhere near as bad as Donald Trump, but the Trump playbook was successful and the US Republicans are largely still supporting or protecting him, sol they must see some chance of success in next year’s US elections. So it’s not surprising to see some politicians here trying to copy Trump’s tactics.

Linda Clark at Newsroom suggests If it looks or sounds like Trump: Press delete

Democrats are ‘human scum’, farmers are ‘rednecks’,  journalists are ‘psycho’ and the Labour-led Government is a bunch of ‘c****’. Welcome to modern politics, folks. I can’t be the only one who feels uncomfortable about where this is heading.

It is getting uglier, and some of that is here in New Zealand – Shane Jones called protesting farmers ‘rednecks’ (some of the protester signs were awful), and Peters called a journalist ‘psycho’ for asking questions he didn’t want to answer.

In New Zealand one of our quiet superpowers has been that our political system is steady and, mostly, civil. By and large, for all that we disagree on issues, we have far more in common than divides us. So the majority of New Zealanders support progressive taxation, a safety net for families in stress, (mostly) free health and education, a fair superannuation system, the ACC scheme, treaty settlements.

What’s really happening, of course, is that the centre of the political spectrum is holding firm. In some elections the governing arrangements might tilt a little left, other times a little right. But under MMP no major party can garner the necessary votes to become Government if it alienates those voters and values that sit in the middle.

Elsewhere in the world that kind of politics has been turned on its head.

Said Donald Trump recently: ‘Our opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.’ In Trump’s world only he stands between voters and some kind of imagined apocalypse.

Trump has – quite literally – rewritten the political rule book. He lies, he screams, he tweets abuse in the middle of the night. He’s vulgar, coarse and, it increasingly appears, surrounded by sycophants and crooks. Any one of those ‘qualities’ ought to see him cast out and yet…. He may even be re-elected.

That Trump is seen as the best option in the US shows how dire their democracy has become. Neither the Republicans or Democrats had anyone better in 2016, and Trump continues to dominate political attention (but consistently polls worse than recent US presidents who were all at least at times much more approved of) – see https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/

Trump’s brand of politics is deliberately apoplectic and extreme. He wants voters to be angry and he fuels that anger daily with tweets, rallies, chants and social media sledging. The more emotional the rhetoric (because Trump completely disproves the theory that it’s female politicians who are emotional), the more polarised is the public and political response. The effect is increased hostility and decreased public confidence in political institutions.

What’s really happening, of course, is that the centre of American politics has collapsed as politicians and voters adopt Trump’s paradigm that everyone is either with him or against him. The divide runs deeper than just posturing over policies. In fact it’s not even about policy; it’s much more personal. A recent survey reported in The Atlantic noted that political tribalism is now so heightened that 45% of Democrats say they would be unhappy if their child married a Republican. Yep, someone who votes differently in a democracy. In 1960 fewer than 5% were prepared to say the same.

The political divide, recently driven further apart by Trump, is far worse than in New Zealand. Peters has been the only one trying to push it here, but now he has Jones doing similar, and Bridges also looks in danger of heading in the populist divisive direction.

Ask yourself, do you like how Trump acts? If the answer is no then don’t support or encourage anyone who emulates him. The politicians, the broadcast jocks, the influencers, even the share brokers; if they name call or marginalise or engage in mocking vilification – tolerate none of it. Anyone who wants to polarise and divide us, who wants us to get angry with each other (old versus young, male versus female, town versus country, born here versus immigrant etc) – don’t buy it, don’t share it and definitely don’t vote for it.

If you go to Kiwiblog you will see that there is a strong pocket of support for Trump (not from David Farrar but in comments, see them in Farrar’s latest Trump post The deranged conspiracy theory.

Fortunately that is a small segment of New Zealand. And there are counter views, like this:

I love these responses.

DPF: Here are some facts contradicting what Trump says.

Trumpers: Haha. Facts! Who cares about those? Let’s ignore them and just assert that DPF is a deranged Trump-hater with no basis for his position.

I sometime wonder whether the Trumpers here on kiwiblog are actually Russian trolls.

Some may be, it’s hard to tell sometimes, but there are a core of Trump fans in Aotearoa, even some commenting here (with NZ IP addresses).

This is a time for cool heads, not hot tempers. New Zealand faces enormous challenges managing climate change, global uncertainty and entrenched social inequalities. These are all long standing issues that need durable solutions which can only be reached if the political centre holds.

I don’t see any indication that the centre isn’t holding here. Peters has always only had niche support, and it’s too soon to tell how successful the Bridges/National PR campaign will be, or how far they’re prepared to divide to try and conquer.

The Prime Minister talks a lot about the politics of kindness but I prefer the politics of community; where all those who can put their energies into drawing out the connections we have with one another, rather than the differences. New Zealand is a cluster of different communities but among and across those communities we can find common ground – if we are prepared to look and listen for it.

The non-politicians amongst us do this all the time in our sports groups, our school boards, our fund-raising committees. We don’t agree on everything but we work out ways of working together positively and in ways that maintain community connections. Now more than ever, if we want to avoid Trump’s polarising virus, the national conversation needs the same goodwill.

So that means promoting decent debate, confronting crap but remaining positive about our country’s future and being positive about our politics.

Whale Oil tried to drag our politics into a dirty cesspit and in part succeeded before crashing and burning. The BFD seems to be trying to pick up the dirt mongering but is ignored by media and has a diminishing audience that is now more likely to rubbish some of the  outlandish  ‘Slater/SB’ authored posts.

Most people don’t see blogs and care little about most politics. They only see bits of media stories. The impression our political leaders make is important.

Peters is well known and doesn’t look like widening his support significantly. He and his party are in danger of being dumped in next year’s election.

Jacinda Ardern has at times been a revelation in decency and empathy, and retains wide support, despite the problems her government is having in delivery on key policies and promises.

The Greens generally have a decent approach to politics. Marama Davidson has been more contentious but seems to have toned down.

David Seymour has been praised for his cross party work in getting the End of Life Choice Bill through Parliament.

Beyond their PR palaver National aren’t totally into driving wedges – they supported the Zero Carbon bill, perhaps one of the most important pieces of legislation this decade, providing it is implemented over the next decade.

I think a lot depends on Bridges and National, and how far they promote division for votes. Over the next few months the polls should tell us – and them – whether the Trump style will lead them to power and Aotearoa to division or not.


Leave a comment


  1. Reply
    • Latta offers nothing. His tweet yesterday was merely anecdote and revealed that gangs aren’t utterly inhuman but ignores the fact that gangs often do act in inhuman ways. He’s all about distraction and squirrels.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  28th November 2019

        The MMM thing sounded like a haka; I wish that I knew what they were saying. I wonder if Mark Mitchell is putting his own interpretation on the event, as there didn’t seem to be that many there and they didn’t seem to be blocking the street.

        One would need to know more about this incident before passing judgement either way on it.

      • duperez

         /  28th November 2019

        Did you want Latta in a Tweet to offer all the answers? Do you think that tweets are anything but anecdotes? He didn’t offer a treatise of the inhumanity in gang but he didn’t question that gangs are a problem.

        I read his first book when it came out. I particularly remember the last chapter. Everyone should read it. One of the problems about Latta is that he knows about the inhumanity in humans. He sees where it comes from and appreciates the complexity of the lack of humanity and the difficulty of dealing with it. He’s not about grabbing a rope and ‘hanging ’em high.’ For that “he’s all about distraction and squirrels?”

        I would proffer that on reading that final chapter of that book the ‘hanging ’em high’ mob would still be grabbing their ropes. We’d see where the humanity lay and note that around the tree would be ordinary clothes, suits and so on, not repugnant gang patches.

    • That’s a pathetic dog-whistle from Mark Mitchell to his blue-rinse brigade. Full of piss and vinegar, fact-free assertions, and misdirection.

      Meanwhile, non-patched white-collar crims continue to get a free ride.

      • Pink David

         /  28th November 2019

        Isn’t the whole point of a dog whistle that those it’s not intended for can’t hear it?

        I wonder why you can see these dog whistles so clearly?

  2. Duker

     /  28th November 2019

    “Beyond their PR palaver National aren’t totally into driving wedges – they supported the Zero Carbon bill, ”

    But they they had a rally on The West Coast and talked Coal up big ! . The Nats have other rallies with farmers where they pretend it wasnt Bridges and Bennett who went to Paris to sign up NZ, where the Zero Nett Carbon Act didnt have their unanimous support. Somehow the Nats contribute to the cockies belief they are being ‘singled out’ , when they have been protected up till now with the taxpayers payer ‘their share of the carbon”
    The carbon stuff is all nonsense in my view anyway , but I accept that its a done thing now. Just dont expect me to accept silly nonsense this this quote from the Met service last week, that the higher temperatures here were from ‘the heat’ from the burning bush in Australia. The heat comes from a vast inland area , not the coastal strip

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  28th November 2019

      It could be because the air has been heated so much; here in the Waikato it’s been sweltering on and off all this month, i.e. since the fires began. I hadn’t thought of it being because of that, I must say, but when there are extreme fires in Australia the sky here is coloured by them. There has been a smell of burning at times; I read that that was from the bush fires but wonder if that’s possible although there doesn’t seem to be anything causing it locally and it comes and goes.

      Like you, I have doubts about some of the carbon hoohah (like the farting animals on farms; all animals fart) although I think that cutting pollution is a good thing in itself even if it doesn’t change the climate. If carbon did cause global warming/climate change, wouldn’t it have done it before in the days when coal was king and smog was killing thousands in the UK alone ? We lived in Bath, and some of the houses were still black from centuries of coal. The word smog is Victorian. Factories were belching coal smoke and the owners ignoring the then laws to stop them..why was there not climate change and global warming then ?

  3. DaveK

     /  28th November 2019

    “….but consistently polls worse than recent US presidents who were all at least at times much more approved of”

    Hmmmm….must be a different RCP you are looking at. Here’s how the orange ones approvals compare to Barry’s. Best you could say is that Bazza was marginally less disapproved of at the same point….


    Jus sayn….

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  28th November 2019

    It’s quite strange how Trump haters blame everyone else for their hatreds.

    And are oblivious to the elephant in their own room, eg: “45% of Democrats say they would be unhappy if their child married a Republican” – note not the other way around. TDS is rampant.

    • Gezza

       /  28th November 2019

      “Navigating family dynamics at Thanksgiving can be a challenge, especially during an election year. Given America’s deepening polarization, the holiday season may be especially tense this year. PRRI’s 2019 American Values Survey shows that Democrats and Republicans are far apart on what they view as top priorities for the country.

      There is little unity across the two major political parties over what these top issues are. In fact, none of the top three issues for Democrats and Republicans overlap. Democrats (77%) believe that health care is the most critical issue, which Americans overall also cite as their top issue (65%). After health care, Democrats rate climate change (72%) and foreign interference in presidential elections (63%) as the next most critical issues.

      On the Republican side of the table, the top three issues stray away from climate, health care, and election interference. Republicans list terrorism (63%), immigration (60%), and crime (50%) as their most critical issues.

      While they disagree on what issues are the most critical, Democrats and Republicans do agree on not being thrilled if their children married across party lines.

      When faced with the prospect of their child marrying someone who identifies with the opposite political party, Democrats are likelier than Republicans to say they would be unhappy. A plurality (45%) of Democrats say they would be unhappy if their child married a Republican, while 35% of Republicans say they would be unhappy if their child married a Democrat. This is a stark difference from 1960 when fewer than one in ten Republicans (4%) or Democrats (4%) said they would be displeased if their son or daughter married someone of the opposite party.

      Unsurprisingly, Democrats and Republicans will not have much to agree on when talking about President Donald Trump.

      PRRI data shows that nearly nine in ten (88%) Republicans approve of Trump’s performance, including a 53% majority who strongly approve. Democrats express the opposite opinion, with more than nine in ten (92%) disapproving of Trump’s job performance. Notably, Democrats are more likely to strongly disapprove (77%) than Republicans are to strongly approve. More than six in ten (63%) independents disapprove of Trump’s job performance, while just over one-third (36%) approve.

      When it comes to personal evaluations of Trump, PRRI data shows that 82% of Republicans report having a favorable opinion of Trump, compared to just 6% of Democrats. Ninety-three percent of Democrats have an unfavorable view of Trump, including 82% who have a very unfavorable view.

      Though Trump-related issues divide the parties, Republicans and Democrats agree that Trump should act more like presidents who came before him. Seventy-three percent of Americans say they would like his speech and behavior to fall in line with his predecessors. Sixty-five percent believe that he has damaged the dignity of the presidency.”


      • Gezza

         /  28th November 2019

        It’s not hard to see why (only 10%) more Democrats would hate their kids to marry a Republican than the other way round, Al. To be a Republican today means supporting the Republican president, who everyone, including Republicans know, is a nasty, intellectually lazy, name calling, bullying, narcissistic, con artist & pathological liar.

  5. David

     /  28th November 2019

    The TDS is driven by a colossal rise in media ratings its become a business model pushing the outrage.
    Sure he bites back but at the moment we have editorials and large amounts of coverage as to whether Conan the Dog who chased the ISIS leader to his death identifies as a male or female, its absurd but it saves any media outlet from acknowledging something positive happened on Trumps watch.
    96% negative coverage last month when you have the sharemarket reaching record highs, unemployment for minorities, women the disabled dropped to its lowest levels ever and wages grew 3.2%. The Syrian withdrawl that was supposed to end in mass slaughter ? The revenge that ISIS was going to take ?
    Surely someone in the media can deviate from the very profitable “orange man bad” schtick. The world seems a pretty calm and happy place, witness a dogs gender is the most pressing concern.

    • Pink David

       /  28th November 2019

      “Sure he bites back but at the moment we have editorials and large amounts of coverage as to whether Conan the Dog who chased the ISIS leader to his death identifies as a male or female, its absurd but it saves any media outlet from acknowledging something positive happened on Trumps watch.”

      The arrogance of the media in assuming they can identify a dogs sex just by his/her/ze/zr’s genitalia.

      They have not made a single effort to ask the dog which gender they identify with.


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