Vox Populi, Vox Dei: The Voice of the people, is the voice of God - or the Devil. It depends in the end on what sort of people we are, or have become.
THIS ELECTION is about us – the people of New Zealand.
No surprises there, you might say. In a democracy, aren’t elections always about what the people want?
Pretty much: and the modern politician’s dependence on polls and focus groups only accentuates the voters’ ability to determine the shape and complexion of their next government.
How else to explain John Key’s wholesale purloining of what used to be considered good left-wing policies – like free doctor’s visits for children under 13 and the extension of paid parental leave?
But if this election is about us, then why hasn’t Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics, put a bigger dent in TeamKey’s support? Have 30 years of devil-take-the-hindmost capitalism, supplemented by a steady diet of winning-is-everything, it-pays-to-be-selfish reality television made dirty tricks acceptable? Have fairness and decency become yesterday’s news?
Is that why Labour polls so poorly among blokes? Because good Kiwi jokers no longer do compassion? Is the Greens’ and Internet-Mana’s focus on poverty seen by the boys in the barbecue-pit and the sports-bar as rewarding the losers with their own, the winners’, bitterly resented taxes?
Because if that is the sort of people we’ve become, then, sadly, that’s what this election is about.
This essay was originally published in The Sunday Star-Times of Sunday, 7 September 2014.