- The will-always-vote-National voter
This voter supports National the same way a sports fan supports a particular team. It’s likely that they vote the same way their parents did. It’s not a kind of support that comes from consideration of policy, rather it’s just backing a team.
The house-owning voter
Although not explicitly – National pretty much ran on a policy of not doing anything about the housing crisis. Their single housing specific policy was to increase the first home buyer grant, which is great if you’re the one selling your house. There’s $10,000 more you can sell your house for.
I think a lot of kiwis who have already bought houses, don’t want to see an end to the housing crisis. They want to see houses continue to rise – so they can double their money like they’ve seen others do.
- The I-don’t-like-beneficiaries voter
I think a lot of New Zealanders are sick of what they see as a perverse incentive to welfare dependency in New Zealand – and they’re not without merit.
The single thing I’m most critical of Labour and Green about is their head-in-the-sand ‘everybody should have kids if they want them’ attitude. For educated middle class New Zealanders who put off having kids till they’re in their 30s, seeing a system that seems to enable people who care about their kids far less they do, they can’t abide by.
- The I-believed-Nationals-lies voter
National conducted a campaign of fear mongering about inheritance taxes, and lies about Labour increasing income tax or not budgeting properly.
This has always been National’s strategy – portray Labour as idealistic but incompetent, and that somehow ‘greedy = good business sense’- ignoring that during the last Labour government – they managed to quite successfully produce a budget surplus.
It’s become clear recently that the FBI was investigating both Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russian attempts to interfere with the US election.
Comey has faced criticism – why did he come out about additional Hillary emails ten days before the election, but didn’t mention the Russian interference?
Surely Obama would have been briefed about this.
Why didn’t Obama hold a press conference and tell everyone what was going on?
Is it really that the extent of it hasn’t come to light until recently?
It feels like the Obama establishment really fucked up on this one – instead of fighting like the Russians are – by exposing information, they’re opted for a strategy of secrecy. Hardly does wonders for their credibility.
National recently announced an election policy of raising the age eligibility to NZ Superannuation to 67.
Labour’s immediate response was to say that they’ll keep at 65:
Here’s the thing. It’s not like National’s policy is pulling the rug out from the under the feet of people here expecting the retire in a couple of years. National’s policy doesn’t take effect for another twenty years.
Twenty years. That’s so far in the future that for most people it doesn’t really warrant serious consideration, in terms of what career decisions they make or where they buy their house.
The discussion has been framed as a baby boomers vs millenials thing – but this policy really doesn’t affect baby boomers. Baby boomers will be well into their 80s by the time this policy takes effect.
This really affects generation X – people who are about 40 now – or the children who were born to baby boomers who were about 30. (These generational categories are awfully grey, but assume that baby boomers were born 1945-1955).
Perhaps this policy is just clever politicking by National. They harness the baby boomer resentment by announcing a change to the pension, while not actually doing anything.
If anything – it’s Labour that fumbled this one – allowing National to frame the political divide, while Labour is firmly in a reactionary position.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. … The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.
January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
I mean, that’s quite serious rhetoric.
Classic ‘fall from grace’ imagery
America will start winning again,
For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.
The US military is depleted? What world does Donald Trump live on?
…and I will never ever let you down.
Did Donald Trump just rick roll us?
Strong, worrying isolationist tones
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.
it’s going to be only America first, America first.
An isolationist attitude is not going to help solve global problems. I think freetrade + paying for carbon is the answer.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.
I actually quite like this.
In the early 2000’s the anarchistic left held anti-globalisation and anti-free trade as one its core issues.
You had events like the 1999 Seattle WTO protests.
More recently the attention has been on the TPPA – the left generally opposing it.
Commentators have pointed out that perhaps the only issue that Donald Trump has been consistent on, is his isolationist stance.
In the 2016 US Election, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton said they oppose the TPPA, though in the case of Hillary, I can’t help but wonder if this is a political compromise on her part. Bernie Sanders also opposed the TPPA.
I don’t really understand why people oppose the TPPA. The main argument I’ve seen is that it gives corporations the power to sue governments if they pass legislation that contravenes the treaty. However, my understanding is that this would only allow corporations to sue if the countries government is passing legislation that in contravention to the trade agreement. I’m not sure that the trade agreement is anti-environment and anti-workers-rights itself.
Given that TPPA also takes place in the a context of governments trying to make progress on climate change (Barack Obama supports the TPPA, and is clearly for making progress on climate change) – I don’t think there’s a conspiracy that makes the TPPA a fundamentally anti-environment conspiracy.
So the question I have for those on the anti-globalisation left – that Donald Trump says he’s going to rip up NAFTA and opposes the TPPA – is that in itself a good thing for the world?
This post has almost no research at all. I did read the wikipedia pages about separation of church in state in the US and in New Zealand
It’s more an intuitive impresion. Is that an acceptable thing in this post-truth society?
It would be good to do some research and put a bit more detail into my claims.
A lot of Americans have the idea that America has the greatest democracy in the world, the most freedom, and that other countries are jealous of this freedom.
Let’s be fair to Americans and acknowledge that at some point, this might have been true. The American democracy is one of the worlds oldest democracies after all.
There are glaring issues in American democracy:
- Rampant gerrymandering.
- It’s a first past the post system. Proportional representation is common throughout the rest of the world.
- There appears to political dynasties: eg. The Kennedys, The Bushes, The Clintons.
The US has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.
The separation of church and state is often touted tenant of American democracy, and makes up a part of its constitution – in the first amendment.
New Zealand by contrast, doesn’t have a so explicitly defined separation of church and state; and parliament starts with a Christian prayer.
However, religion isn’t a particularly big factor in New Zealand politics. By contrast, in the US almost all representatives profess to be Christian or Jewish, presumably because there is a considerable political cost if they don’t.
Religion also appears to play a large part in public policy – for example you see the debate about whether creationism should be taught in schools, and abstinence only education.
In New Zealand, abortions aren’t technically legal. They’re not legal except in the case where the mother’s health will suffer. This loophole allows any woman to get an abortion, almost all doctors happy to say that a woman having a baby that she doesn’t want, regardless of reason, would be a detriment to her health.
In the US on the otherhand Roe v Wade establishes the legal right for women to have abortions, but then you see states putting up all sorts of barriers that make it far harder to get an abortion in the certain parts of the US, than it is in New Zealand.
A month ago, just after the election of Donald Trump, I wrote a post entitled ‘Is Wikileaks in cahoots with Russia‘ where I suggested that Wikileaks appeared to have an obvious political agenda.
I’ve since unfollowed them on Facebook – but I did check in on them today – and have a look at this Wikileaks Facebook post:
A pretty interesting change in narrative in the comments section since I last checked.
If you’re not already aware – there’s also a theory going around that Wikileaks has been compromised, that that Julian Assange is no longer alive/at the embassy.
In the wake of the Donald Trump presidency, there’s been a sudden new ‘fake news’ narrative appearing in social and media discourse.
The discourse arising tends to point at two things:
- Individual people exist in echo chambers, and seek to consume and share content that fits their worldview, without regard for truth.
- This is highlighted by the story that fake news actually gets more engagement on Facebook, than news from mainstream outlets.
- At the same time – there is also a general distrust in mainstream outlets, and the fake news dog whistle is actually used to criticise the mainstream media – by suggesting that it’s the mainstream media that is reporting things wrong.
One only needs to look at the responses to @WashingtonPost’s Twitter account to see examples of this.
Caveat: It’s hard to tell if accounts like this aren’t troll bot accounts.
While I don’t think that the mainstream media is out and out producing lies or fully factually incorrect content, I think it is fair to say that the media has a vested interest in producing certain kinds of content, and it does seem that a lot of what we see on the media now is more opinion or ‘analysis’ – which isn’t something that needs to withstand basic fact checking.
Recently, I’ve taken an interest in watching RT (Russia Today – a Russian state run media outlet). It’s interesting to see the difference in what RT says about particular issues, as opposed to say Fox News.
For example, let’s look at Allepo:
So we have two problems:
- People are just going to share whatever suits them.
- The media have their own agendas which influences the content they produce.
Now we have a problem – how do we decide what content to consume?
Also – we’re not just concerned about the actual truth of the matter – but we also need to know what other people are thinking or reading.
The answer: meta-news.
Instead of reading news from your favourite news site, whether that’s RT, Fox News, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Washington Post – you read a factual, algorithmic aggregate of all news websites.
How this would work, is that some kind of web crawler will read and view news content as it released, and analyse the frequency of certain words, the general meaning etc. It then presents that story with a breakdown of the various narratives being presented, who’s presenting them etc. For example, on the subject of Aleppo, as well as giving the facts of what happened (and who’s reporting what facts), it would report which outlets are using the term ‘liberate’ and which are focused on civilian deaths by government forces etc.
The tool could be also be used to report sentiment on social media. For example, as the story breaks, it can report ‘users on twitter are saying …’. Further investigation can show that ‘Users that say this about x subject, are saying such and such about y subject’.
This tool isn’t a solution to finding the actual truth about a matter, that still depends on journalists publishing the truth. It does however, reveal a different kind of truth, and is reliable at that (if you trust the algorithm) – the what the world is saying about certain subjects. Perhaps that’s a way of breaking free of our echo chambers.
I consider myself a fairly objective and level headed person, and I’m cautious about subscribing to conspiratorial ‘seek out evidence that confirms your existing world view’ type thinking.
With that said – this post does do exactly that.
There is an already existing narrative that Wikileaks is working with either or both Russia and/or Trump’s campaign to get Trump elected.
We can see this with a list of Google’s search suggestions:
Wikileaks deny that they’re partisan in their leaks.
Q. Many people have suggested that WikiLeaks was brazenly partisan in this election and colluded with Team Trump (and by extension, Russia). Just today a top Russian ally to Putin is quoted as saying Russia did not interfere in the election but “maybe helped a bit with WikiLeaks”.1
A. The allegations that we have colluded with Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, or with Russia, are just groundless and false. We receive information anonymously, through an anonymous submission platform. We do not need to know the identity of the source, neither do we want to know it.
Q. Why do you only seem to have information on Democrats?
If you were as Noble as you say you would believe in government accountability at all levels, not just for one party.
A. To date, we have not received information on Donald Trump’s campaign, or other campaigns. If it were to be submitted now we would happily publish it.
Wikileaks are making the argument that they’re simply publishing what leaked information they have, and that they only have information leaked from the Democratic party. Nothing partisan here.
But I think their Facebook page demonstrates posts that go beyond non-partisan leaking of the information that they purport to be doing.
The first thing you’ll notice that almost all of their posts in the months of November and December are to do with the Clintons or the Democrats.
A lot of their of their posts are neutral email dumps:
Or they’re linking to articles that discuss the leaked emails:
But here already, there’s a narrative being pushed. Is it really within the scope of Wikileaks to tell us what we should think of the emails?
Wikileaks also posts links to content that is plain opinon – for example:
This has nothing to do with leaked data at all – but Wikileaks do appear to be publishing one particular narrative.
This posts has nothing to do with leaking data – it’s reporting on how Americans feel. Given that you can find polls that suggest ~50% of Americans don’t believe climate change is caused by humans, or that ~40% of Americans believe the Earth is only 10,000 years old, this isn’t a particularly noteworthy report. It looks like a disingenuous ploy to push a narrative.
This is commenting on politics. Why did Wikileaks feel the need to publish this?
It seems like an out and out partisan statement, that you’d expect from a Fox News pundit or a republican. It’s also not factually true- PRISM started in 2007 for example, before Obama was elected.
Now perhaps – there genuinely is some conspiracy by the Democratic political establishment, and Wikileaks is doing the honorable thing by exposing it. But that’s a different story.
I think it’s fair to say that Wikileaks has a axe to grind for the Democratic party – it’s not just a matter of neutrally exposing leaked data.
The comments on Wikileaks have also been interesting:
There are a lot of ‘Thank you Wikileaks’ type comments. Given that there’s evidence that a lot of the support for Trump on social media is apparently bots, it’s plausible that the same thing is happening here too. But I don’t know enough about how we analyse whether an account is a bot or not, but it’s something to consider.
Wikileaks’ role in the 2016 Election does flip the script a little. From Wikileaks being the hero of the radical left or anarchists, it’s all of a sudden being cheered for by the radical right.
As a final note, here’s an John Pilger asking Julian Assange just about this – here it is:
I’m generally optimistic about the future of the world – and I disagree with arguments that ‘the world is getting worse’. People are more literate than ever, health care is improving around the world, people are more free to choose there career and so on. The 2014 Annual Letter from Bill and Melinda Gates reflects this sentiment.
However, like many people I was surprised by the result of the US 2016 Presidential Election, and experienced a range of anxiety, cynicism and worry about both the future of the world and the current state of society.
What’s to worry about?
I’d divide this in to two categories:
Worry for the future.
- Causing a global war.
- Causing an economic recession.
- Increasing risk of terrorism.
Cynicism about society now.
It’s a little disturbing that so many people weren’t put off by some of Trump’s more awful remarks (‘We should bomb the terrorists familys’, ‘I’d bring back waterboarding and worse’).
The election result demonstrates that there’s more deep rooted hate than we’d perhaps anticipated.
A case against optimism.
It’s tempting to say ‘She’ll be right, things always work out in the end, look at the world now’.
I think we should be a bit careful here. Life isn’t a movie that always has a happy ending. And while our society right now is pretty good, there have been periods of turmoil in the past.
For example, let’s take the the election of Adolf Hitler to power in 1933. Although 80 years later things have turned out OK for us now, things were not OK for the people living in Europe at the time, and saying ‘she’ll be right’ in that context, seems misguided.
So that’s my first warning – it’s not a foregone conclusion that everything will be alright – though of course that wouldn’t be the case had Hillary been elected either.
With that said – it’s valuable to make the most of your life, regardless of what the election results are. Generally stress and anxiety are disruptive or distracting (though presumably someone could use them as a positive to launch their political career or similar), so it’s good to be in a frame of mind where one proceeds with their life.
Empathising with Trump voters.
Empathising is the act of imaging yourself in the shoes of someone else – understanding what their thought processes are and what they’re feeling.
Empathising humanises a person, makes them more familiar, and thus less scary. I think it’s often the not understanding why someone acts a certain way, that we find frightening.
Let’s try an empathising exercise now. All this involves is engaging our imagination. Ask yourself, what is it like First, let’s acknowledge that Trump voters aren’t a monolith – people have voted for Trump for a variety of reasons.
- Disenfranchised and relatively less privileged whites. Working class whites who relatively speaking have fallen behind in society. For example less educated people in manufacturing jobs, who have been laid off or their wages haven’t kept up with more modern occupations like IT. Combine this with increasing ethnic diversity and the awareness that they’re not being paid much more than a social group (people of colour) they’ve typically seen themselves as significantly higher than, and you see how someone would want someone to take action to give them their social status back.
- Children of hateful parents. Imagine if you’ve grown up surrounded with racist and sexist rhetoric, and then more recently there’s been more attention to people calling this out as hate speech. Your very way of life is under attack! When a candidate appears that opposes these now long present forces, you like the guy who is batting for you team!
- Bored people. Your life is unsatisfying and a bit overwhelming. You expect Donald Trump to cause trouble, and that’s going to stir things up.
- Protest voters. I imagine that lot of people who voted for Trump, never expected him to win. People who were frustrated at the lack of options in the election – not trusting that Hillary Clinton had their interests at heart, and voted for Trump more to make a point, rather than genuinely preferring him as president.
When you think about things this way – how Trump came about is a lot more understandable – and for me, the feeling changes more from anxiety to sadness. It’s sad that so many people have lives like this that voting for Trump seems like a good move.
Accepting that we live in a world of assholes.
One of the disheartening things about the election result, is that it appears that a lot of people are gleeful, bitter, hateful or ignorant.
This may feel depressing, as the world isn’t full of the happy, loving, intelligent people we’d like a utopia to be.
But – instead of feeling like you’ve lost something, just accept that that’s actually how it is. Imagine you are a buffalo on the African Savannah. There really are lions out there want to eat you. Being depressed about this isn’t going to help – what’s going to help is being aware of it, and being strong in the face of it.
Or similarly – imagine that it’s discovered that in the forest near your park resides real genuine monsters, who’ll pop out at night and eat people. Instead of being terrified, or despairing that the world is worse than you thought it was, accept it and change your lifestyle to suit. Start carrying a weapon, and avoiding the forest at night.
What this attitude means practically, is in your day to day interactions, perhaps being a bit more emotionally standoffish with people you don’t know – after all – they could be bitter or selfish. It also means looking out for the people who are intelligent, loving and full of life and actively seeking them out and appreciating them!
Life does go on.
Even if something bad happens, it may have long term consequences, but we still deal with it, and still move on. For example 9/11 really did happen, and it end up causing chaos in the middle east, and there was a global economic recession – yet we’re still here, things are still alright.
Now of course – for people who did die as the result of a terrorist attack or in one of the wars – things weren’t alright – so we should quite rightly be concerned about personally becoming a victim. But that said – every time you drive in a car, you also risk dying in a car crash. Personally – I don’t like driving for this reason, but in the wider context of things – and depending where you live, on the balance of probability, you can probably keep doing what you’re doing.
But if, in your assessment, you do need to take action – then take action! Become a doomsday prepper, or move to a safer neighborhood or whatever.
Blame social media/the media.
I think a large part of Trump’s success was that he sold headlines with the outrageous things he said. The media would report those things, knowing that people would click the headline to indulge their desire to be outraged. Whether it’s the responsibility of the media for producing the headlines, or the consumers for reading them, is a discussion for another time.
I think it’s a philosophy that’s worth considering – the reason that someone so outrageous has risen to power, is partly because we’re addicted to outrage and we feed it. Perhaps it time we get more choosey about the media we consume.
Ultimately, I think the right response is a mix of optimism and agitation. Keep feeling positive and enjoying your life (we do live in a pretty golden age, after all), but also use this as an opportunity to be more inspired and motivated, and do your part to improve our culture.