As I write this, the news is breaking . . . Todd Muller, leader of the National Party, has resigned.
I love politics.
I like to get deep into policy detail. Not so much the scandals.
Petty politicking doesn’t do anything for me, not in government and not in life.
In two months, we’ll be at the polls.
What should we as a nation allow and disallow?
Who should be looked after? Who needs to pull more of their weight?
Decades ago, I studied political theory.
I had a brilliant lecturer and I’d sit in awe as he crafted deeply theoretical constructs on such lofty notions as human rights or freedom.
I worshipped his ability to wend words through the vapours of a stale auditorium revealing glistening utopias and their shadowy counterparts week after week.
He argued everything both ways and sideways.
It was grounded for me with one simple theoretical dichotomy: “freedom to do what you want” versus “freedom from interference”.
Two things you almost never have in the same moment in time.
Follow me here . . .
If you have “freedom to do what you want” then I am not “free from interference” (yours) and vice versa.
The only way we both get “freedom to do what we want” and “freedom from interference” is if we want the same thing.
So, if you want me to do something (or not do something) and I don’t agree, then you have to convince me or coerce me, right?
That’s exactly where we are today as I write.
Not just in the conversations the National Party will have had on Tuesday morning, but in every part of our lives and economy.
It’s there in our Covid response. It’s there in our recovery.
From the corridors of power to the dirty alleyways of Facebook these are our options -convince or coerce.
In our local business community I see so many examples of the former: businesses aligning to support collaborations, celebrating success and sharing ideas to help take our town forward.
In our wider community I see examples of the later: threats to name and shame shopkeepers, personal attacks and outright slander.
We don’t choose our freedoms just once every three years.
We cast them in every action and reaction.
We can get behind the things we want in common or let petty politicking bullies tear every idea apart.
I’m voting for the former.
Feel free to join the movement.
- Cara Tipping Smith is a director of The Business Hive in Oamaru.