I kinda feel like the sentiment about Luxon’s apparent trainwreck of an interview with Jack Tame today is … not going to play out the way people think.
Yes, yes it’s absolutely true and correct to state that Luxon wound up caught in a bunch of contradictions – between stuff he’s talking about and claiming is a problem, with what he’s actually prepared to do if he wins an election; between things he’s said he intends to do, and how these actively feed into problems he has sought to pillory the government over … you get the idea.
Except here’s the thing.
Most people don’t have a coherent view of the universe – let alone something as infinitely more internecine as the politics of a small island nation. Our world-views are awash as a morass of mutually contradictory preferences and outrage-inducing red-flag buttons.
Some people take a look at politicians and their presumptive visions – maybe even read some policy manifestos (if anybody still does those) or commentary upon same – before they decide on who they want to vote for.
Others go on whether they feel they can ‘trust’ someone with power – and that may, indeed, arcen back to whether they can put on a decent showing in front of a camera in answering reasonably simple, straightforward questions. (Answering … does not necessarily mean answering well or truthfully, necessarily – but that is another matter)
However, for an appreciable quotient of our body politik (as with many other modern, Western democracies) – what they’re looking for is a simple resonancy with things they already either believe or can be reasonably prodded or coaxed into believing.
And, as we have observed – that DOESN’T require an internally coherent worldview to be espoused by the politician courting them. Quite the opposite.
It just requires being able to sound-off a veritable checklist of talking-points or hot-button stances – and then let the natural artifice of human cognitive filtering take care of the rest.
People no longer ‘hear’ the contradictions, if the contradictions are things they’re already subconsciously overlooking in and of themselves when it comes to their own personal preferential perspectives.
Further, to add to all of this – it has long been known that New Zealanders tend to like an underdog, and will rally behind somebody who is perceived as ‘not getting a fair go’.
I have repeatedly observed that in 2014, for instance, the year of the Dirty Politics revelations … National’s vote actually went up, precisely because we automatically insistently minimized the impropriety at hand – at least partially because the media was perceived to be making a big deal out of it.
It came across that John Key was being hounded by the press and was being beaten up upon – so people tuned out just what (and why) he was being hounded over, and considered him a more sympathetic figure.
Helluva thing, really, to have a multi-millionaire incumbent Prime Minister of six years going up against a Labour party about to deliver its worst result since 1922 … and somehow have said PM come across as being the ‘underdog’ or ‘marginalized’, but that’s how it can so easily look from the outside.
Tame’s interview was interesting and entertaining; but a whole lot of people out there will, if anything, double down in their emergent support for Luxon.
Not because anything Luxon said or did in that performance was ‘smart’ or visionary.
But rather precisely because we’ve all had a situation of some younger guy coming in and asking us ‘twisty’ questions [which may, or may not, actually have been ‘twisty’ rather than reasonably direct and straightforward as various of Tame’s were] and feeling unfairly put upon in fairly direct consequence.
Exposing that Luxon is not, in fact, (yet) the man to be able to dethrone Ardern does not induce his following to abandon ship.
Because they’ve already begun to ‘buy in’. So pointing out that the would-be emperor is, it would seem, somewhat bereft of clothing … just makes many all the more determined to dig in and declare they’re definitely backing a winner here and never mind any purported ‘evidence’ to the contrary.
One of the (many) things George W. Bush proved was that you can, indeed, ‘flunk’ your way to victory.