Nadine Higgins: Are you left, right, or just left out?
OPINION: My alarm clock has been set for 2.30am these past few weeks as I returned to inhabiting the early hours, this time on Newstalk ZB.
It's a station driven by opinion, so I've been merrily drumming up things to riff on as people start their day.
You call for feedback ... and it comes thick, fast and sometimes vicious.
Who is this bimbo on the radio? I didn't realise your appeal was primarily visual Nadine. Who is this kid trying to tell us what to think?
*We're up an unswimmable creek
*That's right, Higgins, not Chalmers-Ross
This isn't a whinge about the haters. We all have unkind thoughts sometimes, but I've never been motivated contact a stranger on the radio or anywhere else to tell them they're a waste of space, so I know those people are not my people.
The stuff that did start to grate though was when my arguments were constantly greeted by "Oh, you bloody lefty".
Not only is it a weak way to combat another's ideas, but I think reducing issues to political ideologies is simply a way to avoid debating the point at all.
Any discussion of fairness or equity seemed to rile my listeners the most. If that's considered the sole preserve of the left, are all National voters selfish, greedy bastards? Of course not.
Ideas should be weighed up and deemed good or bad regardless of where on the political spectrum their advocates sit.
For example, Winston's attack on two journalists who dared to analyse immigration data whilst also being Asian is racist no matter what political colours are nailed to your mast. That's not left or right, that's just the lowest of the low.
I've agreed with policies from parties as disparate as The Greens and The Act Party, I've voted in different directions at different elections, so where does that leave me?
I'm sure I could spend more time trying to diagnose where I should sit on the political spectrum, but I don't care. (I tried one, it put me next to Ghandi, which, let's be honest, is more than a little unrealistic).
The political scientists out there will want to point out the importance and the intricacies of neo-liberalism, fascism, socialism, conservatism and many of the other 'isms' we use to categorise our beliefs into boxes.
But while we get lost in who is on The Left and The Right, many people are just Left Right Out.
Politics needs to be less about labels and more about ideas. Less about shouting each other down and more about trying to understand each other's viewpoints. If Donald Trump's election has taught us anything, it's that it's dangerous to become deaf to anything outside our own echo chamber.
Writing each other off based on our distance from the centre is a poor substitute for honest debate and critical analysis. We'd all do well to remember that this election year.
Follow Nadine of Twitter: @Newsnadine
- Sunday Star Times