Wednesday, 6 September 2017

When You're A Bit Like Trump

Yesterday I wrote about the NZ Herald publishing something which it shouldn't have. Today I will write about something it largely hasn't been talking about. In fact, something basically no-one's been talking about. Which is really weird because it seemed like an obvious conversation to have:
1. Jacinda Ardern will have to explain Labour’s immigration policy
Immigration was the first point in a serious post wondering what further turns in the road lay ahead. Yet, here we are, finding ourselves going from "Now what? 10 more things that could change this election campaign" to "Jacinda Ardern takes offence at being compared to Donald Trump". Oh my God. For real? Grow up dickhead.

Look, Trump and Ardern are quite different. He's American and elderly. She's a NZer and on the verge of middle age (37*2 = 74). But there are lots of similarities. Sure, Trump's behaviour around women seems to raise that tension between confessing and bragging and Ardern's not like that at all but they are similar politicians. Why? Because they're both like John Key. That is, both of them rely a lot on personality and media reception.

Jacindamania is a creation of NZ's terrible media and Trump's riding roughshod over scandal over scandal was similarly media borne. Not that the media woke up one day and started pushing narratives. Trump really did surprise people early on in the primaries so journalists read events and wrote their articles from the position this would happen again. And Ardern? She really did revitalise Labour. She really did give it a direction after years of not being John Key (a fool's quest because he didn't have a consistent vision... if he was Ardern's age and National had still managed three terms after 2008, he'd be the leader of the Labour party right now). And Johhny-boy? Well, he was a media darling. Just goofy enough. Just smiley enough. Wore a suit just enough. Didn't matter what he'd done, he was Teflon John. Except with flag change. That was your dad telling you to get a haircut. And the electorate responded in the same way.

The similarities don't stop there. Not that they're exactly the same media-wise. Trump savages all media. Ardern just has a bone to pick with Mark Richardson... because of something he actually did do. She also doesn't actually have any real scandals (also unlike John Key, who, unlike Trump, actually did always get off scot free... possibly because none of them were rapey).

Both Ardern and Trump campaigned with apparently clear policies. Build the Wall. Lock Her Up. Drain the Swamp. Repeal and Replace Obamacare. Immigration Ban. (Actually, I can't recall, was that a campaign thing?) All of these sound like specific things to do, but they're all what I think Americans mean by optics. That is, they're presented in just the right way that you basically ignore the lack of specifics. Ardern's more grounded because our elections are less like circuses but this is still there. Look at how easily she answers questions like abortion, raising refugee caps or, even, tax reform. Where you can give quick answers, she's got them. Where you have complex issues? It is a working group... for after the election... but that is still doing something.

The thing is, it isn't just the way they're campaigning that offers room to point out real similarities (a fake similarity would be, for instance, comparing Trump and Fake News to Ardern and Richardson). You see, on immigration and on the TPPA, Trump and Ardern have policy similarities. That is, neither is for them. In fact, MAGA is really just a patriotic nativisim that reads well as an extreme version of Labour's perverted conception of fair, albeit that's from the Little days. And it makes sense that Trump would be more extreme: he's from a more extreme country. I mean, the US tears itself apart on abortion when here it is literally a crime and no-one cares. If the US government tried to market itself as 100% Pure, there'd be riots. We do do this and nothing happens? Despite the terrible quality of our waterways? Rising emissions? We can't even agree on whether or not blaming farmers is a big deal. (It isn't, because they do deserve a lot of blame, but so does the government. partly for letting them behave how they do.)

Jacinda Ardern, though? She can't handle the comparison. And it's not even a broad statement. It's actually really specific. I mean, really specific. It went like this:
Meet New Zealand's Justin Trudeau—except she's more like Trump on immigration

In other words, the comparison was made solely on the point of Labour's platform that is least consistent with the values of contemporary Labour thought... do note socialism in the Antipodes used to be quite extremely racist... and modern thinking about economic migration. Labour's stance on immigration is morally disgusting and economically illiterate. National's weakened version of the same things is not ideal, but it's better. ACT, despite some criticism in Craccum for being too interested in human capital and too vague about NZ's values (pg. 20; and ACT obviously thinks those values are cosmopolitan), gets a moral pass simply for being open to the idea and is pragmatic about them by advocating for last year's policy settings. The Greens and some other parties recognise that familial breakdown is an issue our policies should resolve (although Craccum seems to believe this only exists in families of colour) so they're adding some moral sweetener there, even if, for instance, TOP have other problems with their policy.

In this context of indefensible immigration policies, Ardern obviously points at Labour's stance on refugees. Good for you Labour! I don't care. Labour frames and treats refugees as something completely separate from immigration, except when they want to look like they're not total dicks. Why? Because refugees are migrants but they're not emigrants in the sense a refugee doesn't choose to move. A refugee is placed in a situation where they can't stay, whereas saying someone has emigrated implies they've chosen to leave the country. These are quite distinct processes and, as a result, we should and traditionally have not conflated the two. Labour does conflate the issues because they actually have a decent refugee policy. For instance, they're one of several parties who want to create a category for climate change. But if you want decent refugee policy, vote Green or even Maori. However, do notice these bad boys:
But for every refugee New Zealand opens its doors to, we are repaid in multiple by the contribution they will make to our country.
We should have an immigration system that fills genuine skills shortages and isn’t used to keep wages down
To the extent that refugees and immigrants are both migrants, somehow refugees are good and immigrants are bad. This is an entirely arbitrary distinction. The reality is that "migrant labour" falls into four basic categories. One, seasonal labour. Two, skills shortage labour. Three, replacement labour for the brain drained. Four, people who lack local qualifications competing with other people who lack local qualifications, because local qualifications mean more to employers and are a non-discriminatory way of hiring people. We might add a fifth category which would be Australians, but it's us that move there, not them that move here.

If it quacks like a duck, it sounds a like a duck. And while Ardern doesn't walk like a duck, doesn't flap like a duck, doesn't look like a duck and doesn't lay eggs like a duck, she does quack like a duck. If she wants to not be compared to Trump? Well, then she needs to change her policies on immigration. Put up, or shut up. Basic lessons from the playground... which Ardern, Trump and "I pull pony tails" Key all need to learn. Maybe Ardern was trying to say that at least Trump is also anti-refugee so is a bit more consistent. Nah, that'd be absurd.

Oh, and Swing Vote describes nicely why Labour is anti-immigrant (and they categorically are). Fun film. Deserved more attention given, you know, Trump's "popularism."

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