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Friday, 2 June 2017

Elections 2017: The Silent Majority before the Storm

consider this the side effect of staying up late three nights in a row re-reading the Bachman Books and H.P. Lovecraft.

If New Zealand’s election period could be likened to a horror movie, or an episode of Scooby Doo, we are now in that slower, duller, second act where the potential victims/Scooby gang wander around the haunted house/spooky cave/darkened museum looking for the monster while the audience waits for something (anything if it’s a really crap episode of Scooby Doo) to happen.

And that’s where we are right now in this election, waiting for the monster (or old man Withers dressed up in a monster costume), to pop out of the woodwork and kick off the exciting third, and final act of the film/episode.

It’s been so quiet in fact that I spent an entire three weeks of my immigration fueled writers block scanning the blogs and headlines for something in NZ politics to really get my juices going only to get tantalized by headlines that promised something but ended up delivering nothing.

Overseas there is plenty of that hot sweaty election action to get excited about: in the US Trump continues to provide endless entertainment as the Muppet in Chief during his first 100 days in office; France decided that it wanted socialist plutocrat Macron over right wing crypto - fascist Le Pen; England’s Brexit driven snap election has turned from a Tory shoe-in to a rather more nail biting affair as ,despite all the hate, Corbyn and Labour start to make up the difference in the polls; South Korea got itself a liberal (except for his views on homosexuality) new president and the rest of the planet has plenty of good times lined up on the electoral front.

Yet here in NZ there is little for the political junkie to get wired on and currently we are all going cold turkey (watching that baby crawling on the ceiling) while waiting for the medicine and shooting up on the political equivalent of baby powder cut with laxatives in the form of budget coverage and minor intrigues in the parties (such as the Greens reshuffling of the list candidates).

On the flip side the lack of new things to sensationalize has led to some rather in depth and extended coverage of older stories such as those of fraudster Joanne Harrison in a great example of digging ever deeper into a story to find the truth.

I hope this situation will inspire more articles of this kind; as bored journalists probe further than normal into stories with what I imagine is an equal mix of genuine interest to get to the bottom of the things and the kind of kinky thrill one gets from really pushing the boundaries when faced with existential levels of boredom.

And I am not the only one to notice that what we are currently missing in this election is the spectacles that previous elections have provided.

Last election we had Kim Dot Com and the Internet Party, while previous elections have had Don Brash and his Orewa speech, Winston Peters vrs Jim Bolger, Nicky Hager books and whatever political McGuffin was needed to switch the rarely used political circuit of the kiwi body politic on, a factor which goes as back as far as I can remember (the oldest I can genuinely recall is “Piggy” Muldoon and the snap election of 84).

And that is what is currently missing from this election so far. There is no spectacle, no Grand Guignol to shock the body politic and send it running, screaming, in terror down the long dark hallways of the nation and thus setting in motion the final dramatic act of the election campaign.

The one thing that genuinely caught my attention over the last few weeks was the Greens enacting the political equivalent of prison yard shanking on Labour, when they voted with National on the budget, which was done in full view of all inmates and had the same meaning and symbolism.

And if I can deviate from the script for just a moment I thought the idea of the Greens/Labour MOU was that they could agree to disagree on budget issues but would have the decency and courtesy to let the other know in advance.

If that was the case then the first Andrew Little knew about it was when he felt the cold steel being driven into his back before collapsing to the ground, twitching spasmodically, his arms twisting behind him, desperately trying to pull out the blade out while the James Shaw stood over him, legs spread, arms akimbo, face flushed, eyes bulging with desperate catharsis (or maybe blood lust) as he makes it clear to all parties that he won’t be tossing anyone’s post-election salad.

Meanwhile in the shadows, Bill English and Paula Bennett, in matching prison jumpsuits, watch the scene unfold and congratulate themselves on the outcome.

Yet this treacherous act barely got any real mention in the media and this blew me away given how much of a big deal their supposed MOU on budgetary matters was supposed to be.

So if we return to our script we now waiting for something or someone (let’s hope it’s not Godot) to bring things to life before we can get it up to go out and vote.

But the past few elections have been so high on spectacle that it’s going to take massive, race horse sized, doses of political Viagra to give the electorate the potency to actually give a monkeys uncle come September 23rd.

Of course there are plenty of issues out there which have been bubbling along for the last 12 months plus on our minds (the housing hernia, water, immigration etc) but these are the same old issues, which while genuine, have yet to reach that critical point where the political mood surges to such a level that they act as a lightning rods for all that discontent that is sloshing around out there.

Because the political stasis which John Key brought about during his run as PM has ended but the effects of that stasis still linger and this was why recent elections descended into such levels of carnival sideshow behaviors as the inevitability of a National win dulled the electorates senses and therefore required increasingly bigger, and more bizarre, shots of political theater to even motivate them to vote.

This election things may be different, the Kiwi voter may be politically jaded and inattentive but under that glazed ennui lurks the same social and economic frustrations that have vomited out, like so much bile in places like the US and the UK, all manner of reactionary outcomes and helped drive a populist (and vindictive) mood in the polls which I have previous labelled Fukyoo Politics.

And if NZ doesn’t get a populist election then there is only one other outcome, another three years of National because given the Greens recent behavior there is no certainty that they will be backing Labour come September 24th, nor that they would not play the field a bit and support National on some issues (ok so this one is a bit of a stretch but who saw the budget vote coming eh?) which has been my analysis of the Greens for over a year now (see my recent re-post on the Greens for more of that).

But even with a populist outcome we may be seeing Dollar Bill English and his feckless miscreants for another 36 months so the question of who will survive this nightmare is yet to be answered.

So what is the silent majority thinking? What thoughts ripple darkly across their minds?

Because the term “silent majority” can refer to the great mass of those who support the status quo or those who are the frustrated and oppressed with said status quo; and in our current situation, given how both the polls and reasonable expectations have failed when the unreasonable outliers came calling, there is no safe indicator of where the silent majority will go come polling day.

Previous electoral outcomes in other countries have seen more than one apple-cart upset and useless political elite tossed onto the bonfire of seething frustrations with all the enthusiasm of a blood thirsty lynch mob.

Or we have been faced with the lesser of two evils when the moral ambiguity of the situation has sucked all the legitimacy out of the candidates and left voters flinching away from any friendly face or lashing out in fear at the merest hint of danger.

Thus if we return to our horror movie/Scooby Doo analogy, we are now standing alone in the dark, nervously awaiting whatever is making those strange noises out beyond the light.

Is it Fred and Velma, some creep in a rubber monster mask or Shub Niggrath shuffling forward, tentacles quivering?

Or is it a twist ending, like Michael Jackson's Thriller video, where he turns to the camera in the final shot, the frame freezes, and while Vincent Prices mocking laughter fills our ears we see his glowing eyes and realize that the person we thought was our hero/heroine come to save us, has been the monster we have been running from all along.

Whatever you do don't look behind you! 


  1. Tell us more about the books you're reading please E.A.

  2. Hi Anon.

    I am one of those people who cant read one book but have to read 15 (some from the library and some I own) and as such I have 4 piles of books scattered around the house from which I pick up and read.

    They are:

    The Biography of Moshe Dayan by Shabtai Teveth
    Fredrick the Great by Giles MacDonogh
    Robert Helinlein - Revolt in 2100
    Beau Gest by P C Wren
    Information doesnt want to be free by Cory Doctrow
    Money-The unauthorized Biography by Felix Marti
    The Devils deal by Andreas Loizou
    The Great Fitness Fraud by Bert Seelman
    Strange Suspense - the best of the Steve Ditko Archive

    And I have just finished reading

    The real Odessa File - author forgotten
    The Snow Queen - Joan D Vinge
    But not in Shame - John Toland
    Tales of known Space - Larry Niven
    Book 1 of the Amtrak Wars - Patrick Tilley

    I divide my time between politics, sci-fi, popular science, horror, pulp fiction, books on war, historical biographies and graphic novels (lots of graphic novels)

    1. Also the two I noted at the start of my post but I reread those on an almost yearly basis, along with the Sprawl trilogy by William Gibson and most of the works of H S Thompson.

    2. Maybe you should read something about detecting sarcasm

    3. Hi Anon.

      I'm sorry that I did not detect your sarcasm, I will try harder next time, it was a bit weak for sarcasm though don't you think?

      This is the interwebs my friend, trolls abound and even the negative comments I get on this blog are harsher than what you wrote.

      But it was a good joke you pulled so points for that.

      None the less I suggest dialing it up a bit next time as well as using a name and not the anon title as I tend to focus less on anon comments just because they are anon.

      For an idea of what you can do the comments sections of the blogs I link on the side bar of the main page could be a good start as well as the comments section of The Register ( which is famous for its high level of sarcasm without decent into trolling.

      Don't forget that sarcasm on the internet cant rely on facial or vocal mannerisms to convey said sarcastic intent so you will have to work on the assemblage of words themselves to do the job for you.

      But don't let me put you off and I look forward to your next attempt.

  3. "For an idea of what you can do the comments sections of the blogs I link on the side bar of the main page could be a good start"

    No thanks I'm good

  4. ahah EA waxing lyrical. Just as well you are not over at the sad dictator's site KP.
    Now, Winston will appear before us all in good time. The apparition will be that of the savior. This is better than the monster of Islam arriving here under cover of the refugee, slaughtering the children which collaborating politicals elsewhere leave on the front line.

  5. Hi Pual:

    I don't consider Pablo to be a dictator, it is his site and he can set the content and style as any editor would. I suspect if he was posting here I might be asking him to change some of his content, that just how it is.

    If we were to continue this posts analogy, while I was not specifically referring to Winston as the hero/heroine of the day, in the final paragraph, such a comparison could apply to him as he has always played his cards close to his chest before an election to get maximum votes.

    Not that there is a problem with that but it has shown up in the past as meaning that those who vote for him perceive him different than his actual intent.

    Not sure about the monster of Islam arriving here any time soon, NZ seems to have missed that bus.

    1. Do you find Islam monstrous?

    2. Not at all.

      I am not a fan of religions in general (being a lapsed catholic myself) but religion is religion is religion, or more to the point everyone has faith in something.

      I am all for faith, its the fight of which franchise is best(KFC vs Mcdonalds?) that I have issue with.

    3. So you don't consider Islam monstrous but you write about the "monster of Islam". Got it.

  6. I was making light of Paul's previous comment about the "monster of Islam arriving" in NZ.

    You are actually reading the comment threads, aren't you?

    Would it have helped if I had put quotation marks around it?

    Also, at this point its pretty clear that your trolling and looking for controversy.

    That I don't mind, its all part and parcel of the internet but you will get better mileage out of it if your a bit more sophisticated in your approach.

    Currently your coming off as some sort of first year Uni student who has discovered Pol Sci and now thinks they have all the answers, which I understand, I was once such a person, but your current tack of picking out small parts of peoples comments and then trying to blow them out of proportion or take them out of context is very low budget and not going to annoy.

    Currently its entertaining.

    Have you considered checking out places like IAB or 4Chan for some pointers on how to troll in the comments section?

  7. "Currently its entertaining."

    Glad to hear it!

    For the record I have an M.A. in Political Science with a specialty in Comparative Politics and Political Philosophy, and five years experience in a NZ government department.

    Have you ever considered maybe your writing doesn't really justify a lengthy response?

  8. As an addendum I will say, I've tutored a hell of a lot of first year Pols students, and one thing many of them share is an infatuation with their own opinions and an ability to say in 2,000 words what could easily be said in 50. And they do like to throw in irrelevant anecdotes about their rather uninteresting personal lives.

    Sound familiar?

  9. I knew it, I bloody knew it.

    Political Philosophy, OMG. LOL!

    That at least explains your trolling, it does not excuse it but it does explain it. You still have to back up your arguments and positions to be credible. It does explain your sophist attitude as well.

    And don't think I am knocking you fully as I have a BA Hons in Pol Sci and a MA in Strat Studies (terrorism/counter-insurgency).

    So it takes one BS artist to spot another, you should definitely start a blog now.

    But you seem to like reading my blog and commenting so keep at.

    That said, I wont be changing my style much or word count, as I write short sharp and concise in my day job, this is my outlet for all that. Nor do I think many of the topics I have addressed could be properly done in 50 words. But as you have an open offer to write a guest post, I again encourage you to prove your point.

    I used to write 3 to 4K posts at KP, I now aim for 1.5 to 2K now not always achieved.

    1. So you feel people with degrees in Political Philosophy don't usually back up their arguments?

      "You have an open offer to write a guest post"

      I really could not be less interested in that.

  10. No I am just amused to find someone else who has done political philosophy, there is not many of us.

    At this point its only you who are refusing to back up your arguments and since this is not the lecture theater or a tutorial you simply making statements and then not being able or willing to get in behind them kills your arguments stone dead.

    Your authority or knowledge is neither established or verified here so you saying something is so does not make it so or worse making a nebulous argument and then refusing to provide any support or verification for that argument just makes you look like someone who thinks they know but doesn't or worse a braggart who has been caught out in making an erroneous claim, which I think is what has happened here.

    So your haughty or disdainful manner does you no favors, this is the inetrwebs good sir and here you are judged on the value of your argument (or in you case your trolling) not on some position you hold elsewhere.

    I hope you can grok that because otherwise you are simply some nameless anon who makes slightly snarky comments but adds nothing else to the debate, other commentators that you have disparaged at least put their thoughts and opinions into this discussion. I appreciate their time and effort.

    So far you have said very little and what little you have said contributes nothing and makes you out in a bad light and does make you look like a low budget troll.

    University educator or otherwise, your position is irrelevant and currently suspect as well as any knowledge you might have by your refusal to support any claims you make. Which is my polite way of saying I think you might be a BS artist.

    Until you can engage with substance I deem you trollis pestis suspectus.

    1. "your position is irrelevant and currently suspect"

      What is it you suspect me of?