You know Western politics is stupid right? But do you understand why? Its representative democracy. Majoritism is the standard of right. We no longer even ask if people think 'a certain decision is right' or a certain policy 'should' be taken. Instead we cynically resign ourselves to the question of 'will' a certain (stupid) outcome result. This was the outcome in NZ this week. A politician was dumped for the sake of a party's reputation. The minister was trashed by the leaders of the two main parties and the media alike. But was it reasonable?
Well, lets start by looking at what the public thought. According to a NZ Herald poll of 13200 readers, 86% said MP David Garrett "will" do lasting damage to the ACT Party. This is after a week of the media telling us he 'would damage' the party. There seems to be a twisted logic here because the TV presenters say he will (i.e. 'not should he'), then the readers are subjected to a survey where they are asked, 'will he'....as opposed to 'should he'. The implication is that the role of the reader or voter is to passively interpret the options of journalists, and then respond on the basis of their perceptions of what other people will do. This is very wrong for several reasons:
1. The media has totally neglected or downplayed the fact that the incident happened in 1984 - yes that was 27 years ago, when he was a very young adult. Does he have a track record of crime since then.
2. The media is reading some 'heinous' perspective of his crime - trying to steal the identity of a dead 2yo boy to illegally attain a passport. There is no reason to think the act was anything other than a prank. There is no purported crime arising from the issue. Maybe he was an anarchist who wanted another identity to avoid fascist government. We will never know because we will happy trample over the rights of people for the sake of 'public revulsion'. This has been a trial by media.
3. If the MP was reprimanded for the crime 27 years ago, no one would have questioned his later parliamentary committee. We might conclude, parliament is where he belongs, with the rest of the crooks.
4. The media has a conflict of interest. They are inflamed by the need to pursue any scandal.
The problem of course is that the media has too much power, and there is too little accountability. I will make a complaint to the NZ Press Council. My guess it will have little impact for David Garrett, as the damage has been done. The reality is representative democracy is always 'perceptions', not the facts. The NZ Herald asks 'will this damage the ACT Party' because it correctly realises that individuals have the power to shape perceptions in our political system, and it ultimately does not matter what one individual thinks 'should' happen to the ACT Party, because they control the unthinking mob who buy and uncritically review newspapers and watch the news with glazed eyes. There are too few critical thinkers to make a difference; protected by a NZ Press Council with a dubious set of liberal values.
The ACT Party is one of NZ's best changes of political freedom. Why? We already have a parliament dominated by two parties, so there is very little choice or competition as it standards. Destroying ACT by unfairly persecuting one man who did something wrong 27 years ago is wrong. Rodney Hide may have made the right call 'intellectually' by concealing the incident, because everyone lives in fear of a 'punitive' media who likes to see heads roll. I personally, if I was Rodney Hide, would like to seen more evidence that the guy has done anything wrong in the last 27 years, since Hide had a reason to question his integrity and values. i.e. A list of his 20 closest friends and a police record would have been sufficient, if only to protect his own reputation.
Beyond that - the problem is our democratic system which makes perceptions rather than facts the standard of value. One day people will wake up and realise we need a consensus based democracy or meritocracy rather than a 'mob' ruling the majority by some pretense of representation. I don't think much of the ACT Party as representatives of my 'libertarian' views, as I find them to be appeasers of the existing system. I repudiate the system which extorts wealth (i.e. taxation) and imposes all types of burdens upon me in the interests of the 'collective'. Those 'representatives' are only accountable to an unthinking mob. So much for human rights when one's membership to this awful tyranny is unconditional. It is not a fair system, it does not give me any real choice; but instead legitimatises the type of arbitrary rule we expect under tyrants. There are no politically inspired assassinations, other than the character assassinations by the media, and of course we still have tax-based slavery. Why would you want to kill someone when you can enslave them through an 'unconditional' tax system which 'intrinsically' values everyone...but as what? Slaves? We are all equally slaves. Why did we fight in Iraq again? Oh, that's right, to enslave them because good infrastructure is in their interests. Last time I looked I thought wealth creation came from protecting rights, not breaching them. Justice not perceptions. Facts not subjective assertions.
If you want to follow this story - see the following links:
1. NZ Herald - article 1
2. NZ Herald - article 2