Stop the Trump-Brexit ef­fect in NZ

The Tribune (NZ) - - OUT & ABOUT - IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY, PALMER­STON NORTH MP

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.

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