It’s disconcerting to see National and its blogging lackies running smear campaigns against anyone who has what they deem to be “political connections”.
The government’s current strategy to deal to individual opposition is find a link to Labour or the Greens and dismiss the outspoken person on the basis of political bias. This tactic is not only underhanded and wrong, it’s incredibly damaging to our political culture.
In modern New Zealand we have a huge problem with political engagement. There are now relatively few people willing to stand up, organise, and voice an opinion. We shouldn’t be surprised that these few interested people have some connection to political parties. Of course they will. Political parties are one of the few places these people can get together and debate political ideas and policies.
In fact I would say those who have some level of political engagement are often the best people to voice and represent a position on an issue. They’re actively engaged and know the ins and outs of the issues.
Researching and smearing some poor individual because of political connections suppresses the voices of some of the few people in this country who are willing to speak out. It’s stifling of individual opposition and reduces the pool of opinion even further. Not only that but it puts off anyone else who ever thought of engaging politically.
We on the left have been guilty of this in the past as well. But I’m especially disturbed by the research and effort that has gone into this strategy recently by National and its allies.
It’s time to turn this strategy on its head. Let’s praise people for standing up and voicing an opinion. Let’s forget about whether they are or have been a member of Labour or the Greens or any other party. All citizens of NZ are entitled an individual opinion. And they deserve to have that opinion heard and respected, and not undermined by a vicious and nasty Parliamentary-run strategy.
– Simon S.