Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is ignorant.

Thank you Colin James - thank you very much.

It seems that unlike the majority of pundits, Mr James picked up on the fact that National's campaign pledge for a referendum on MMP is actually major news.

When the Nats put out their ten election pledges (August 3 - a Sunday), RNZ jumped on to the MMP aspect, as did Stuff and the Herald. Some superficial coverage followed, but no-one actually asked any questions about why they were pursuing the referendum, and why Jonkey was the under the assumption that "the country may well vote MMP out but I think they will vote in another proportional system," (my emphasis). Supplementary Member was later touted as a possible replacement, and while DPF gave us a fairly good comparison with MMP, Idiot/Savant shot it down pretty quickly.

My point is - the only people who seem to be railing against MMP are the same reactionaries who railed against it when it was voted in, and have railed against it ever since. People like Garth George.

Everyone I know (and I am aware I'm a weekend socialist) seems to be rather fond of MMP. In fact, some go as far to say that they actually like the fact that gummints can't ram through legislation willy-nilly as they could in yesteryear.

I'm no constitutional expert, I leave that to Palmer and Son, but there's something inherently wrong with either major party lobbying for a less representational system (and we all know both would love to see a return to the glory days).

Like most of my peers (unfortunately I fall into Gen Y), I can't really remember the glorious years of unbridled power, and that (ironically) makes me slightly more cynical than James, who seems to think the public has been well-served by the Fourth Estate and can make an informed decision on most matters:
So Key's self-serving referendum may actually be superfluous. The electorate is wiser than he credits it. It owns the party system and is working out how many parties it wants in Parliament.

I don't think so.

One of my guilty pleasures is listening to talkback radio, and while I think it has enormous potential in offering the wider populace a platform for their opinions and the ability to debate the issues (much like blogging), it usually falls well short, degenerating into the cynical sensationalist broadcasting that attracts the lowest common denominator, and often becomes a strong indicator of public sentiment - it's why the powers that be keep an eye on the watchmen.

If this is the case and Mr Key's assumption is correct, as George Bernard Shaw wrote, we shall be governed no better than we deserve.

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