Above: So now we have to wait for this guy to decide.
So how was that for you? Are you feeling good? Did you get what you wanted?
I’d guess your answer would be a resounding no, unless your name happens to be Winston Peters.
The people may now have spoken, but what exactly have they said? Who the fuck knows?
Not that this uncertainty is holding anyone back. New Zealand’s economy may have a productivity problem, but to see the rate at which earnest thinkpieces continue to be churned out is to behold the true miracle of modern production methods. Just about everyone has a hot take on what this election result means and what Winston will do next, even though no-one really knows what’s in Winston’s head. Nothing beckons bullshit reckons like a feckin election.
We aren’t coping well with all this uncertainty. It’s just killing us! Before this election I’d been worried about what might happen between North Korea and Trump. Two nations on the brink of thermonuclear war thanks to the superb leadership of a couple of guys with major daddy issues. Normally I’d agree that the Korean crisis ranked ahead of our own election in terms of its overall significance. But give me another week of pundits and ex-politicians pontificating on this election result, and I’ll be welcoming with open arms the impending nuclear holocaust. I’ll be lining up to push the big red button.
The longer this process takes, the harder it’s going to get. What will the radio networks, TV panel shows and newspapers do when they run out of angles? Pretty soon there won’t be anyone left to get an opinion from. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets a shovel out and digs up Sir Roger Douglas to ask what he thinks. Wait, what? He’s still alive?
Something sure has gone wrong for us to have ended up where we are. It’s hardly ideal, is it? It’s always someone else’s fault when the party or person you support does badly, but who do you blame when the whole system lets you down? When someone bombs out it’s a given that their defeat is down to the nastiness of their opponents, the stupidity of the voters, the tactical foolishness of their own allies in splitting the vote, or even the media. Anything but their own mediocrity or mendacity. Witness, for example, the aggrieved whining of the defeated Maori Party over its miserable election failure, after years of propping up a National government disliked by many if not most of its own people. They could hardly have been surprised at the outcome. History tells us that at the end of a war they shoot the collaborators.
But who do you point the finger at when all the major parties do just badly enough to screw up the whole country? You then have to blame the system.
This current uncertainty is a direct and inevitable result of our adoption of MMP. Proportional representation was supposed to deliver us from the evils of a first past the post winner-takes-all outcome; but no matter how bad the old way was, wouldn’t you just kill for a piece of that FPP certainty right now? Let’s remember, though, that we also hated FPP. So, yeah, nah, maybe not.
We could modify MMP to make it better. We could even adopt a different proportional system. Eventually we’d end up in a situation where we were unhappy and it would be the entire fault of whatever electoral system we had in place at the time. So it’s not simply a case of our current electoral system being flawed. The problem is all electoral systems. The problem is democracy itself. It’s messy and ugly, and sometimes it doesn’t give us what we want when we want it.
I saw this coming long ago. I tried to warn people that we’d end up in a terrible mess unless we got rid of this messy democracy business and put all the nation’s power into the hands of one person. The thing that really stings is the fact that I was willing to take on the job. I was prepared to shoulder the burden of leadership for the sake of our country.
But did anyone listen? No, you knew best. You could have torn up your ballot papers, burned down Parliament, kidnapped its members and bought them to me in chains. Together we could have purged the nation of all my enemies. We could have avoided all this uncertainty if only you had sworn an oath of allegiance to me. I bet you’re regretting that decision now.
We could have created something special, beautiful even. There would have been only one political voice, the official voice, and all non-sanctioned forms of political expression would have been outlawed. Patrick Gower wouldn’t have been chasing down Parliament’s corridors after some disgraced MP. No, Patrick Gower would have been the one on the run. I would have abolished free speech and banned Twitter, leaving my people with fewer distractions and much more time to work in the fields. The things we could have done together!
You have squandered this opportunity, and I won’t forget it. I’ll remember all the people who did me wrong when finally I get my chance.
In the meantime, you’ll just have to live with the consequences of your actions. Isn’t democracy a bitch?