On 23 September you have a huge choice to make. You get to vote on the future of this country. You can choose a strong and stable government, or you can risk change and uncertainty. You can go with the tried and tested, or you can throw the dice. Sure, maybe Labour will be great. But what if they’re not? What if Jacinda Ardern’s first act as Prime Minister is to unleash an army of demons?
I don’t mean to scare anyone, because in all likelihood Ardern doesn’t have the power to summon Satan’s spawn, and even if she does possess the ability to command the armies of darkness, that doesn’t mean she will.
The trouble with Jacinda is that we barely know her. She’s been leader of the Labour Party for only a few weeks, which makes her unpredictable. Think of all the most unpredictable people in history. Some of those people were pretty awful, weren’t they? Crazy, even.
Whatever Bill English’s faults, no-one would accuse him of being unpredictable. He’s been around the block, so we all know what we’re getting. English has been in politics for years and years. Decades, in fact. Maybe even hundreds of years. Who knows? No-one alive today can remember a time when Bill English wasn’t in Parliament. But that’s a good thing. He’s a part of the furniture, like a comfortable chair. Because he’s been around so long we know pretty much everything there is to know about him. There are no surprises with Bill English.
Can you say that about Jacinda? There is something exciting about her meteoric rise to the leadership of the Labour Party. She represents hope and change and a new generation. She is anything but dull. But dull can be good. Bill English is dull. He’s a square. He’s a policy nerd. Bill English is boring, while Jacinda Ardern is not. Serial killers aren’t boring either, but we’d never elect a government led by a serial killer, would we?
That’s the thing with Bill. He’s not the sort to slink out the bedroom window of his Wellington house on a moonless night wielding a cruel blade, intent on murdering the homeless as they sleep in doorways. You can visit his Beehive office with complete confidence that you won’t find a pyramid of human skulls resting on his desk. It’s inconceivable that a man so colourless and bland would have buried dozens of small children under the floorboards of his former Dipton residence.
No, that’s the sort of thing an exciting person would do.
And let’s look for a minute at the change Jacinda promises. The prospect of change may sound appealing to someone down on their luck with nothing much to lose. But not all change is good. Remember that no matter how terrible things are for some people in our society, and for many people things are genuinely terrible, they can always get worse!
So why risk any sort of change? The safest course of action right now would be to just keep things as they are and vote National. The good thing about this government is that for all its talk about eradicating child poverty, dealing with the housing crisis and improving the lives of the poor, we know it’s all hot air. They’ve had nine years to sort this shit out, and things don’t seem to be getting any better. Once this election campaign is over National will get back to the task of doing bugger-all for the most vulnerable in our society, and while that’ll be bad luck for those poor folk, at least we know National probably won’t start any sort of programme of ethnic cleansing, or build a giant nuclear bomb and threaten to fire it at our neighbours. Bill English is just too boring and unimaginative to think of committing genocide.
Or you could vote Labour and take a chance. A chance that things will get better for those who need help. Wouldn’t that be something? But why take that chance? We don’t really know Jacinda that well. She’s only been leader for five minutes, so she needs to earn our trust first. Let’s give her another fifteen or twenty years in opposition, and then we’ll see. Maybe then it’ll be safe to give her a turn.
There’s no clear explanation for how Labour could have turned things around so fast. A month ago they were doomed, and now they’re on the cusp of an election victory. It’s true that the dramatic turnaround in Labour’s fortunes could be down to a number of things, like a charismatic and likeable new leader as well as a general mood for change. But isn’t it also just possible that some darker force is at play here? What if it turns out that we have been bewitched? What if Labour’s dramatic rise is down to sorcery and black magic, and isn’t the result of the party finally finding a front person who combines likability with competence?
I’m not saying Labour’s been practicing dark magic on us, but it would explain a lot. Like how Labour managed to convince just about every economic expert that looked at its spending plans that there is no $11.7 billion black hole. If such a hole existed, wouldn’t it be really obvious? And yet no-one but Steven Joyce can find it. It might be tempting to say there was never a hole, to label Steven Joyce incompetent or even dishonest, but isn’t it just as likely that Labour used magic to hide it from the experts?
This use of magic would be a disturbing development in an election campaign that has already seen so many dramatic twists and turns. The use of sorcery and witchcraft to turn people against National would be entirely inappropriate and would demonstrate that Labour just can’t be trusted with any sort of power.
Labour probably hasn’t used magic. I’m not saying it has. But what if I’m wrong? You might be thinking of voting Labour, but it might only be because you’re under an enchantment. How do you feel about that? Is that acceptable to you? Are you going to let them get away with that? Vote National and teach Labour a lesson.
The 2017 election could be the most important election in our lifetimes, although it probably won’t be. But it might! What if historians one day look back at this time and wonder what madness possessed the people to change the government when they already had things so good, or if not good, not completely shitty either, or maybe quite shitty but not as shitty as they could be? What if by voting for change we end up triggering a chain of events that result in a new Hitler ruling over us? Don’t let future generations accuse you of having the blood of the innocent on your hands. Vote National!
Look at all the things this government has achieved in the last nine years. Sure, it’s a pretty mixed bag, but it could have been a lot worse. It can always be worse, so why take a chance?
Now is not the time to change course. Those icebergs in our way are only a bit of frozen water, after all. Strong and stable! Strong and stable!