The Mister Affable Vote Rules Again

Tracey Barnett©2011


Uh-oh, I’m just a tad tetchy we’ve just been caught—how can I say this politely—looking kind of shallow. Not quite Kim Kardeshian-esque, but still somewhere uncomfortably between SpongeBob and Oprah.

Answer this truthfully: Did you vote for the man, John Key, or for his policies? Because honestly, I wonder if you might admit you voted for John Key, the person, because you didn’t like Phil Goff.

That’s where it gets a tad confusing. How we vote and what we believe seems slightly out of whack.

Anywhere from 62-80 percent of us say we don’t want asset sales, depending on the poll.  Yet, most of us voted for the man who has promised assets sales—with bells on.

A July Herald poll showed over 63 percent of us say the SAS should be withdrawn from Afghanistan.  But that’s not what the man you voted for has done.

How many of us really want to see ACC open up to be privatized?  Yet, if you read the National and ACT agreement, that’s what we’re getting.

Maybe I missed the memo, because despite Pike River and Rena, we must feel we have our regulatory act together on deep sea oil drilling and the drill-baby-drill leap to gas fracking this government is welcoming with open arms.  Because if you voted for John Key, the man, you voted for his policy to bring it full speed, too.

Here’s what I fear: Personal affability won over our own values—and no one wants to admit that out loud. There isn’t a mandate this government says it now holds.  There is only the man.

We voted for comfort food.  That is, if we bothered to vote at all.  Record numbers of us stayed home and just ate it instead, with the lowest turnout in 124 years. We’re so comfortable looking at the nice guy in front of the microphone, we forgot to read the fine print of the policy piled on the table behind him that the majority of us don’t actually prefer. 

It’s hard to blame near-sightedness only. When we finally cleared our brains of World Rugby hunks and remembered we actually had to elect somebody who doesn’t wear shorts to work, what became the most profound issue dominating about a third of our election discourse? Two middle-aged guys in good suits, drinking a tannin-laced beverage playing Get Smart in a pretend ‘Cone of Silence’.

Getting dunked into Teapot-gate was like being forced to shop in the pink aisle of the toy store.  No, it was worse. It was like we had the chance to date an interesting woman and we chose to jump a plastic blow-up doll instead.

Let me say it out loud: To politicians and colleagues who addressed it ad nauseum, politically, ethically, legally—endlessly: It. Wasn’t. Worth. Our. Precious. Time.  This was our once-in-three-year opportunity to navel gaze issues of real value.  We ended up playing with puku lint.

It’s not like this was an aberration.  Last election we went crazy over a mail pamphlet because the organization that funded it had the word, “Secret” in front of “Brethren”. Hey, had it been ‘Secret’ in front of ‘Santa’ or ‘Squirrel’, we would nabbed more substance.

We say we know our values, but in actuality do we value the face on the packaging of who leads us more?

I doubt John Key will have such an easy ride ahead.  Not because the man has changed, but because once Phil Goff is deducted from the equation, we might see that the hill our Prime Minister has climbed isn’t pointed in the direction the majority of us want to go.  This, confoundingly, despite how we voted.

I heard Berlusconi has just released an album of love songs.  Today, even that seems to make more political sense somehow.


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