On the second night of my drinking I was looking for my car and as luck would have it, I found it outside my favourite bar. (Drive By Truckers)
In political terms, this is the phenomenon of confirmation bias.
When we go online, we do so to have our views affirmed and soon we think everyone is thinking just like us.
The reality is somewhat different.
We choose our friends and we choose our information highway and we create political parties to compete for space
Political parties should connect with people. They seldom do more than create a passing interest.
Connecting with people requires listening more than talking. Telling people what they should think never works. Democratic politicians have an obligation to find out what people are thinking and give voice to the fears, hopes and aspirations of our times. How do we work collectively to overcome problems and shift the power relationships so people believe they have some control over their destiny?
It is not just the politics of hope; it is the politics of hard work and sacrifice. It is also the politics of compromise and incremental gain.
Even under MMP, a political party must appeal to more than all my friends on Facebook. Winning a seat or two in parliament is only the beginning. Negotiation and compromise are then necessary to make gains for the broad constituency of working people, beneficiaries, the dispossessed and marginalised. And the electorate must at least be convinced that such negotiation and compromise will occur when the votes are counted. Many would prefer agreements on core policies were reached before Election Day.
The National party has the luxury of resolving policy differences internally and presenting a united platform. Right now, this makes them the favourite to govern again even though their prescription for NZ is an environmental, social and economic disaster.
Our challenge is to create the alternative which does not look fragmented, competitive and unstable.
Labour and the Greens both have many exciting and relevant policies and Mana have a large potential constituency for socially progressive policies and community based action. The campaign finance which comes with the Internet Party might add votes but the Party is a puzzle. Opposition to mass surveillance and other policies are shared by other parties of the Left and I am not sure where internet freedom sits with the rights of workers in the arts and entertainment industries. There are dangers if the accommodations’ of the Left appear to the electorate as political expediency.
Finding alternatives to the policies of the last 30 years which have increased inequality and alienated people is the political challenge of our time. Electoral success requires such alternative policies to become mainstream.
Policies must also reach people who are distracted by consumerism or marginalized in their communities.
The task at hand is more than just to get out the vote. It is also to convince and give certainty to people that they will have more security and opportunity if they vote for a change of Government.
Can the political mix on the center left be brought together into a winning formula?
There is much at stake. Poverty and injustice are not theoretical. An alternative government must look like it can govern with a realisable political platform and do so with stability.
Right now, from a distance, it looks like the horses might be OK but the punters are terrified.