Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tribalism of supporting the EFB

Jordan Carter's vituperative response to Garth George (who yes is largely someone I don't agree with) speaks volumes about the lack of thought when supporting your political tribe - after all, those you respect and like politically can't get it wrong. Can they?
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Jordan said "The people who are trying to subvert New Zealand's democracy are the various right-wing extremists out there who are portraying perfectly reasonable changes to clean up the financing of elections as some kind of totalitarian suppression of free speech".
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That includes Not PC and myself you see, both members of Libertarianz - a party that manages to campaign and stand candidates without huge amounts of money, and arguably may even benefit perversely from the EFB - why? Because if the Nats and ACT find it harder to campaign, it probably reduces SOME of the competition for votes from those who believe in less government. So we're not motivated by any self interest politically, it is a point of principle - the EFB is an abomination if you believe that peaceful people have the right to free speech.
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Jordan thinks election financing needs cleaning up - but then one who stood by Labour as it used taxpayer's money to finance the pledge card, and couldn't actually blink when Labour insisted it was NOT about helping Labour get elected - has an association with the truth that is perhaps only similar to that of ardent supporters of Marxist Leninist governments. If Labour said 1 + 1 = 3, then you may wonder if he simply would believe it. If National had used government money to pay for pledge cards, you can be certain without doubt you'd never hear the end of it from the likes of him. He would, of course be right in that case too - but it is political tribalism.
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He goes on "For them, freedom is the right to buy elections. Democracy is rule by the moneyed. Fairness is screwing the scrum for your own team. A level playing field is tilted at 89° with National and the forces of the right at the uphill end. Justice is making sure that there is no chance of a fair fight at the next general election."
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Arrant nonsense. Buying elections is about bribery, and as has been said on more than one occasion, an election is itself an advance auction of stolen goods. Labour is very supportive of using taxpayer's money through policy to prop up businesses, and groups of individuals knowing they are more likely to vote for them. Working for Families could have been about trying to reduce poverty - but that wasn't the target, as beneficiaries pretty much sleepwalk their votes to Labour anyway. The target was swing voting families that would also be interested in a tax cut - but a tax cut was offered by National (giving people back their own money). Labour preferred to tie them in longer term by saying Labour has given you something - for being a working family, so isn't that nice? What's giving Tauranga money to fully pay for its second Harbour Bridge instead of it being a perfectly viable toll road if it ISN'T about buying the election - or rather buying the support of NZ First after the election - with taxpayers' money. Who authorised that? Doesn't matter - it's Labour (oh and National would do it too if it had to).
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He claims we want rule by the moneyed (sic). So why has ACT never been in government? Why does National not win election after election, it has lost three in a row now - did Labour claim the 1999 and 2002 elections were unfair? No, just the last one when it nearly lost - as much because people liked tax cuts and straight talking about the state being colour blind, than National's electoral ads (though you have to admit, the billboards spoke volumes).
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Remember also every incumbent government has an enormous advantage by using, carefully, departmental advertising budgets to promote existing policies and market how to take advantage of them - but to Jordan that isn't campaigning. Money spent advertising Working for Families in election year couldn't be, could it now?
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He claims that his political tribe is so good and honest and would never ever want to tilt the playing field in their favour. However, he sees those opposing the EFB being so motivated. In short, Labour is the party of angels, and National is the party of satan. Yes, there are Nats who think the exact opposite. The truth is they are both - but tend to be dominated by one motive - getting and staying in power. Jordan is part of that, and it would be sad if it didn't affect so many people. At best it is the height of political immaturity to support your own tribe without exception, and regard the others as fundamentally evil - at worst it IS evil.
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He continues "try and claim the moral mantle of those good people who were fighting for the very democracy, the very freedoms that the legislation is designed to uphold, and which were threatened by deceitful and outrageous abuses at the 2005 General Election by National and their Brethren mates? How dare they?"
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How laughable, almost hilarious. The "good people" who spent taxpayers' money on a pledge card, denied it, changed the law to legalise it because "they made a mistake", which JUST happened to help them get elected. Imagine if the party I belong to made such a mistake on such a scale, could we change the law because "sorry judge, we made a mistake in interpreting it". My arse we could. Jordan doesn't like National getting more donations than Labour, pure and simple envy - because people with money are evil and just want to hurt others. The sad sad bigoted world view of the avowed Marxist, so much blood spilt in the name of that envy. Or does Jordan simply think voters are stupid and get swayed by the amount of advertising, not the content of it? The "deceit and outrageous abuses" at the very least can be thrown back at Labour too - and funnily enough even the polls seem to indicate the public don't think there has been deceit and outrageous abuses - the Nats outpoll Labour consistently, or is that the stupid voters who don't vote Labour again?
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If Jordan really supports fair elections then maybe he might support the following small list of potential changes (setting aside NOT passing the EFB):
- Prohibiting ANY government department spending money on advertising or promotion in election year, given the risk it can be seen to be advocating the incumbent government;
- Privatising TVNZ, Radio NZ and Maori TV, so that the state does not have any media outlets;
- Ending state funding for broadcasting advertising, so that the two major parties don't get state sanctioned domination of political advertising on the most influential media.
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Of course this wouldn't give Labour any advantage, so why support it?
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Finally he says "If the Electoral Finance BIll was truly as these people describe, everyone under the sun myself included would be ripping it to shreds. But it is not! "
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Well it's not totalitarianism no, but the bill does NOT ensure each of us has an equal voice. It protects the incumbent government, and continues to advantage the two major parties, and suppresses the freedom of peaceful people to campaign how they wish, and with their own money. If you want an equal voice, then use your own money, and attract it from others. If you can't get people to choose to pay for your political party and point of view in campaigning, then why suppress the right of others to do so?
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Unless, of course, you're a Marxist who thinks that those who have more money than you have it unfairly or unjustly - in which case, you don't believe in freedom, and don't really believe in democracy, you think voters vote for whoever has the flashest ads, and those who spend the most at elections must be suspicious, and have bad motives. That's the bottom line philosophical difference:
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- Some people believe elections are about voters making their own decision, after being bombarded with propaganda from umpteen parties. They believe voters are smart enough to know when they are getting tricked, and that a vigorous campaign means accusations from left and right against each other are out in the open. They also believe that people can choose to support and fund parties or not, and that people should neither be forced to support parties, nor suppressed from doing so. Parties may be born or die according to support. It's called freedom, and trusts that people supporting parties and voters can make their own minds up.
- Some people believe elections are dominated by big parties who have to sway a lot of rather stupid, kneejerk reacting ordinary people to give them their vote. They think the average voter is pretty dumb, largely votes according to the loudest message and biggest spin seen in propaganda, not voting on self interest or belief in policies or the integrity or likeability about candidates. They don't think voters can be trusted to sift through all that parties might say. They also believe parties are good in their own right, so essential to government that everyone should be forced to pay for political parties, and their propaganda - especially the bigger ones. They think election should be about different playing fields for different parties - they talk about fairness, but think Labour and Libertarianz must be treated differently. After all, Labour's in government - it's only fair isn't it? National can't be allowed to get more donations than Labour, that would be unfair that more people want to donate more money to National than Labour - the fools, the evil ones, they can't be allowed - it undermines democracy because, remember, voters are stupid, they don't know what's good for them. That's called the arrogance of statism.
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Statism vs. freedom. That's it.

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