READER REPORT:

Let's get political: We must send the message

KIERAN GAINSFORD
Last updated 09:06 18/10/2012
John Key
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
SAME OLE SAME OLE: Prime Minister John Key.

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Government, surely, is a place where the finest minds come up with the most creative and innovative solutions to what ails our country and its people.

Unfortunately, this is not what we're getting from those to whom we give the responsibility to hold this nation in trust.

It isn't good enough for the government to put finance and property before people and their ability to live well, nor is it acceptable to say, "Well, that would be nice, but we can't afford it".

Paid parental leave is a case in point. The government, as the highest sovereign voice of the people, actually does have control over the economy - big control. The current system needn't work as it does - clearly it is rigged against the bottom section of society, being designed to keep them there.

We don't need to go to the trouble of electing governments just so they can tell us about their timidity in challenging the economic and social orthodoxy and how this, as a consequence, must keep people hungry, poor and deprived.

This is our biggest issue and, unfortunately, National's often well-meaning policies perpetuate this.

No, we elect governments to lead. To inspire. To imagine. Not to be austere and let our nation slip as a good place to live while thousands of economic refugees flee every year.

To be fair, the Opposition has yet to inspire, and the media-driven focus on the short-term means David Shearer, foolishly in my opinion, spends his parliamentary questions relentlessly pursuing dubious Kim Dotcom-GCSB-related leads.

This is a shame, because at least Labour, the Greens and Mana appear to recognise people as being a country, not its economy. People know this, and I think the government has started its inevitable poll-slide because of it. The government sees people as working to grow the economy, not vice-versa. This needs to change.

And, despite my view that the alternative is indeed better, simply electing them is not the answer. It is a problem how the media sees the word "activist" as a negative word, as it is activists who energise and invigorate our political parties.

Politicians are people too, and all of them fail to differing extents in what they do. The only way to remedy this is for more and more people to challenge old ideas and realise that our democratic system is special. It is free and allows us to participate.

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In the end, we're letting ourselves down by letting the news cycle and "economic wisdom" batter us into voting preferences without taking control ourselves.

That is how bad governments, and bad politicians, in general are taken to task. The ballot box is not enough, and I think there will be no political "winners" until we realise this.

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