Stop the Trump-Brexit effect in NZ
I didn’t see it coming. I was completely Trumped, just like millions of people across America and around the world.
Some people did see it coming – or at least they claim that they did. Perhaps we all should have.
The signs were certainly there. Brexit was the most obvious. Just months ago we were stunned that a majority of Britons were prepared to turn decades of political and economic consensus on its head by voting to leave the EU.
We knew full well that the sentiment that drove that decision was also driving the Trump campaign but somehow we convinced ourselves that the outcome would be different.
The election of Donald J Trump as President of the United States of America is, just like the Brexit vote, the result of decent, ordinary people reacting against a political and economic system that they feel completely left out of.
They’ve done the electoral equivalent of hurling a grenade into the White House and Westminster.
Horrifically, that reactionary force has taken an ugly form.
Sexist, racist, intolerant, homophobic and anti-intellectual are just a few of the terms one could use to describe the Trump campaign.
But it’s a predictable development. We are evolutionarily hard-wired to blame those who are different to us when we feel threatened and alienated. Trump supporters feel vehemently that the system is rigged against ordinary Americans.
Can we say the same in New Zealand? People trying to buy their first home, struggling to get the deposit together, forever being out-bid by real estate speculators may well feel that the system is rigged against them.
People who have been told by their GP that they need surgery but can’t even get onto a waiting list might feel the system is rigged against them.
People who have been burgled but can’t even get a police officer to investigate could feel the system is rigged against them.
People who work two jobs but still can’t make ends meet and still have to line up at the foodbank probably feel the system is rigged against them.
If we want to stop the Trump-Brexit effect taking hold in New Zealand, we have to re-orient our society, economy and politics towards greater inclusivity and greater compassion. If we fail to do that now, we will have only ourselves to blame when we allow fear to trump hope in our country.
US Presidentelect Donald Trump speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York.