There are three things that will ALWAYS get you votes in NZ.
1 – Attacking beneficiaries: We LOVE to bash the dirty filthy bennies, it’s our favourite cultural past time right up there with alcoholism and rugby worship. The core myth of neoliberalism is that you earned your success individually (not as the byproduct of a functioning, high education, progressive, democracy) and if your success is yours, then so is your failure. If you are a beneficiary, it always has to be framed as a personal choice to fail, not as the collateral damage of feckless free market capitalism.
2 – Attack Māori: It doesn’t matter what they do or how they do, NZ politics loves to crap all over Māori. Despite the land confiscations, broken promises of the Treaty and systems of law and justice that are evidentially biased against them, Pakeha are so guilty about how they’ve abused Māori that every time it’s pointed out, it provokes a militantly defensive ‘one people one law’ bigotry that desperately tries to silence the issue the way a criminal tries to husp up their crime.
3 – Tough on Crime blah blah blah: We all hate prisoners and criminals. Fed on a news diet of ‘if-it-bleeds-it-leads’ we have been emotionally manipulated into the baying howl of a lynch mob. Instead of trying to understand why we have crime and how best to rehabilitate that, Politicians feed the media generated fear and promise to make prisoners suffer inside prisons, the counter productive madness of that is they come out more damaged than they went in! This insanity is costing us billions in a prison industrial complex.
I say there are 3 things that will ALWAYS get you votes in NZ, but there’s also a fourth, and until now, unspoken thing that will get you votes.
Hating on the fatties.
It comes as National leader Judith Collins doubled down on her obesity stance, describing it as a weakness and saying that people should not “blame systems for personal choices”.
She said people who were obese needed to take some personal responsibility.
Judith’s current desperate attack on the overweight is a sad last minute attempt to flirt directly with the worst angels of our nature. For the Right, being fat is a disgusting personal choice, just like poverty. The need to boil it down to one of personal self control is a play at the self responsibility value the Right champions.
It reeks of something David Farrar cooked up in a research group.
Judith demands we ignore the basic code of DNA in our system to hunt out fat and sugar, she demands we ignore the vast marketing budget of cheap fast food, she demands we ignore the high cost of healthy foods, she demands we ignore the self esteem issues of those individuals, she demands we ignore the lack of treatment for obesity and stomach stapling surgery, she demands we ignore a sugar tax, she demands we ignore the entire cultural and economic landscape of obesity just so she can place it at the feet of the individual.
None of those things matter because the naked truth is NZ loves to hate the fatties. In a culture of Instagram filters and Gym boasting photos, the fatties represent the worst of us, slovenly, greedy and evil. Condemnation of us is wrapped up as health concerns with faux justifications.
Some will challenge me, and demand why I don’t take responsibility for me being overweight.
So let me be blunt in reply.
My early childhood in Melbourne was overshadowed by the type of domestic violence that makes Once Were Warriors feel at home.
Until you have lived with extreme violence as a child.
My earliest ‘happy’ memories were when I stole food and hid in the wardrobe to eat it and avoid the rampaging rage of my alcoholic step father.
I appreciate the emotional triggers food has for me, and its lasting imprint on my dopamine, and while I didn’t need to explain my reasons for being overweight, I wanted to hold it up as a reminder that people have no idea why or how others are and that bleating ‘personal responsibility’ is as hollow an intellectual response to obesity as farting in an elevator while proclaiming a solution to global warming.
My personal reasons for being overweight aside, we live in a free for all market where the profits of Ronald, Burger King and the Colonel outweigh public health.
One of Cameron Slater’s targets on his blog were public health experts who spoke out against the fast food culture so hating on the fatties is a well trodden path for the Right when they sense a sugar tax coming.
We have an enormous weight problem in NZ, instead of blaming the individuals for that problem, why not acknowledge the economic landscape that obesity is occurring in and see it as another example of our failed free market deregulation?
- We need GST off fresh fruit and veggies NOW!
- We need more obesity surgery NOW!
- We need a sugar tax to pay for that extra obesity surgery NOW!
- We need vast new restriction on fast food marketing and advertising NOW!
- We need more public gyms NOW!
There IS a debate that needs to be had in NZ about obesity, but blaming the individual and claiming it’s just some personal choice issue while ignoring all the other factors involved here, and to do so for the venal drive to get an extra vote by playing directly to our meanest angels is far more ugly than obesity.
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