Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: What's the Big Idea?

116 Responses

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  • Rob Stowell, in reply to BenWilson,

    I think it's working. But probably too slowly, and against a clamour of right-wing popular media that is loudly front-page scornful.
    It's a remarkable fact about our democracies - here, England, the US - that the electorate favours policies well to the left of what they appear to vote for. The well-funded propaganda machines of the right are one factor - nothing equivalent on the left to eg Fox News (or Hosking ... ).
    The success in peddling fear (and scorn - without any analysis - just arrogant dismissal) is a major factor. But it's also apparent the left lacks great salespeople and clever marketing strategies. Not a complete lack, but a noticeable. They tend to scorn some of these things. But we need great persuasive communicators.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2064 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Older white people who vote are now more powerful as there are more of them statistically.

    Ben listed excuses, including " No party represents me "

    I've just spent two days with my mother and her sister, both white women in their 70's, and they put themselves in that box. Explicitly they don't like National but "have you seen the others?". Yes, yes I have. How anyone can look at the spectrum from ACT/David Seymour to Maori/Marama Fox to Greens/Metiria Turei and say "none would be better than Bill English"... I am lost for words.

    Especially when I have just spent two days hearing about grandchildren and babies and who is having the babies and has the grandchildren and aren't babies wonderful and isn't it sad that X's marriage broke up before they had babies and your second cousin and her wife had a baby and .... endlessly for two days. But then they will do nothing to make sure the babies can survive to adulthood. NOTHING. Oh, but they're of flying to Europe again to see the grandchildren. They have grandchildren in England, isn't it wonderful.

    ARRRGH!

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1043 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    It’s a remarkable fact about our democracies – here, England, the US – that the electorate favours policies well to the left of what they appear to vote for

    Yup. We can explain it all we like, but the fact remains that it is true. Our democracies don't deliver the policy we actually want. I hate to say it, but this kind of stupid is not entirely on the political system. I am at a loss to understand how anyone could not see Trump is not going to help the people who elected him. They'd only have to basically do any kind of inquiry into his past to see that no-one but an inner circle has ever profited from what he has done in his life. But clearly they're either not capable or not willing to do that inquiry. In that case, they are getting what they deserve, as possibly the only slightly good outcome. The electorate might learn something from Trump's School of Ripping off the Students.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Moz,

    How anyone can look at the spectrum from ACT/David Seymour to Maori/Marama Fox to Greens/Metiria Turei and say “none would be better than Bill English"… I am lost for words.

    Well none of those people are white women in their 70s, so the claim of a lack of representation is semi-true. And Bill English is an old white man, which is in some ways the next closest thing to an old white woman. His party has quite a few old white women in it, some having held very senior positions. Furthermore, they are voted for by a lot of old white women, so when they sit around talking to their mates about their grandchildren, there will be plenty there who think National is just fantastic, and that will rub off.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    we're swimming in stereotypes that old white men deserve our trust most

    I agree. But while I don't know I suspect that the younger generation think that stereotype is a load of crap. Since none of the parties offer anything other than older mostly white and mostly men they figure why vote for any of them.

    If you offered them a younger inclusive selection you might see a different behaviour. But not even The Greens did that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4374 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    One of the difficulties with young people is that they are actually quite hard to poll in any way, including just basic opinion polls and studies of their wishes. Whereas we're awash with information about what older people want.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    But we need great persuasive communicators.

    No definitely NO. What we need is more people able to assess evidence themselves, and be able to reach a coherent conclusion. being persuaded by someone else to believe something just because that person is good at communicating can so often work against the evidence.
    Its all our problem now, act like it matters.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1659 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to andin,

    being persuaded by someone else to believe something just because that person is good at communicating can so often work against the evidence.

    Maybe it would be good if this was a question of evidence based policy-details. But it's not. It's about values, and that means emotion. I don't believe the devil has all the best tunes: Sanders - and Corbyn, on a good day - can be inspiring advocates for our better natures. I want more of that - a lot more.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2064 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    It's not a fair contest.
    Stupid, uninformed, uncritical and unquestioning ... is persuasive because it sounds simple and certain. It's also bullshit; but it's often hard to tell when delivered at speed. And because no forethought has gone into it, it can be delivered at speed.
    Coherent conclusion, based on careful assessment of evidence ... at best, takes a lot longer to achieve and then deliver; at worst, also sounds hedged and uncertain.
    The ability to combine analytical skills with plain speaking is regrettably rare (though there's a fair concentration of such individuals among the regular PA contributors) .

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1765 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    If you offered them a younger inclusive selection you might see a different behaviour. But not even The Greens did that.

    Eh? Check this photo of some of their latest batch of candidates (plus one retiring MP for contrast) at a recent event. Not young or diverse enough for you?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19428 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    ETA: @Rob even though the link is to linger

    Maybe it would be good if this was a question of evidence based policy-details. But it’s not.

    Well, not very much, anyway.

    But it’s not. It’s about values, and that means emotion.

    To a large extent, but not entirely. Some arguing about values does come back to people reconciling their principles, which can possibly be done in a rational way, even if the principles themselves are based on emotion (or lets say on beliefs that are less well founded than scientific/mathematical evidence). To suggest that this impossible pretty much says “It’s either what scientists reckon, or it’s just prejudice”. There is an entire middle ground, the basis of almost all human behavior, which falls between these two extremes.

    You can get very, very good at finding the way in which peoples emotionally based principles are contradictory, without it coming back to scientific evidence. Then they have to choose how to resolve this dilemma, typically by weighting one or other of their principles more highly, or finding in the dilemma some parameter that increases the strength of the “firing” of one of the principles.

    But yes, there’s also a lot of scope for pure salesmanship – nothing else explains how Trump got elected.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    The ability to combine analytical skills with plain speaking is regrettably rare (though there’s a fair concentration of such individuals among the regular PA contributors) .

    I think it's a skill that means a lot more to others who also have good analytical skills. Which, as you point out, isn't that common. To many, such a talent actually makes people trust you less. The slippery lawyer, the doctor giving you the bad news, the judge summing up the case. If you inherently don't want to believe the truth, then counter evidence can strengthen your false belief.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    Not young or diverse enough for you?

    Yes but where are they on the list?

    You could argue that putting Chloe Swarbrick at 13 and Golriz Ghaharaman at 15 is a carrot for young voters, but really it could have been much better.

    Same problem with Labour, the list position favours the "experienced MPs" aka old ones.

    It's a classic problem if you decide experience is a high priority, you exclude youth (and usually women as well). It takes a huge effort to avoid that bias.

    I know the Greens work hard to balance the list but if we're trying to engage the young voters then having young representatives actually getting into parliament seems like a no brainer.

    And I know I'm extra hard on The Greens and that's unfair but I really do want them to be a better party, they should be my slam dunk vote. Especially since the other offerings are such dross.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4374 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    But it’s not. It’s about values, and that means emotion.

    To a large extent, but not entirely.

    It is unbelievably hard to get someone to change their value-based position.

    Even excluding the penguins and polar bears, who are forever fixed in their views and will never meet, the group in the middle mostly take positions based on a set of core values and will interpret all incoming information with a conscious or unconscious bias determined by those values.

    Sometimes, with patience and time and effort on both parties, it's possible to change a value-based position. But you can't underestimate the effort involved for both parties. Most folks just don't care enough to bother.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4374 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It is unbelievably hard to get someone to change their value-based position.

    The truth of this statement depends on basically every variable in it.

    Changing people's values is a pretty big part of what education is about, and to a large degree it's the purpose of any discussion of values. Certainly there are times, people and subject combos in which no progress is likely to be made. The opposite is also true.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    There's a famous quote by Norman Kirk about values which Grant Robertson has been repeating for years. People want "Someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for”.

    I noticed Andrew Little included it in his speech on Sunday. The speech also had housing as the big idea, as identity and community:

    "Why have we made getting housing right such a priority?

    Because it is absolutely essential to New Zealanders’ sense of security and stability.

    Home is about “our place.” It’s a place of celebration; a place of refuge. A launching pad to face the day’s adventures and challenges. It’s our landing spot to rest and get ready for the next day. It’s where life is lived. Where futures are dreamed.

    Without a place to call your own, it’s hard to have any of these things. To thrive, to prosper, to stand on our own two feet, every New Zealander needs to have a place they can call theirs.

    It is Labour’s mission to restore the foundation stone to strong families and strong communities – decent housing."

    Shades of Kirk. Good work from the speech writer.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3114 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Yes but where are they on the list?

    You could argue that putting Chloe Swarbrick at 13 and Golriz Ghaharaman at 15 is a carrot for young voters, but really it could have been much better.

    Same problem with Labour, the list position favours the “experienced MPs” aka old ones.

    May I very hesitantly suggest that your thinking here does somewhat hinge on the idea that young voters will be as ageist as their elders. My impression – at least of the shining examples – is that the younger generation are more focused on the big idea and less prone to prioritising elections as the only means for change.

    This thread is steeped in oppositional binary, the left/right framing at the expense of the authoritarian/libertarian dimension - encumbering visualisation - followed by the old/young binary at the expense of a whole range of intersections and other considerations.

    To imply that party policies offer little to youth, to me, is a characterisation of youth as having no foresight towards adulthood (housing/water/mental health) , in which case how valuable might their vote be to achieving your vision for the country?

    How appealing has inexperience ever been in an MP?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2142 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    Changing people's values

    Except I'm not interested in changing anyone's values, and I never enter any discussion intending to change someone's values.

    All I'm interested in doing is getting people to use data and evidence to assess the positions they take. If given good assessment of data and evidence that position is still in opposition to their values I accept they probably will not change position. We can agree to disagree.

    But most often, when you get folks to look at the data and evidence it turns out that the evidence-based position is not in contradiction to their values. That means they can change their position without ever changing their values. But they still might not want to.

    That's hard work, for both parties, and it's fair enough if folks don't want to bother.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4374 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to mark taslov,

    To imply that party policies offer little to youth, to me, is a characterisation of youth as having no foresight towards adulthood

    Sorry that was not my intent.

    All I'm saying is that given the observation that young folk are not voting then a not unreasonable hypothesis is that none of the political parties offer those young people anything to vote for - be that policy - or potential representatives.

    How appealing has inexperience ever been in an MP?

    Inexperience as an MP is not the same as inexperience. And even then I personally believe we overvalue experience over talent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4374 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to BenWilson,

    To suggest that this impossible pretty much says “It’s either what scientists reckon, or it’s just prejudice”.

    I hope I'm not suggesting that (tho it could be read that way :)) In many ways our lived experience is our primary source, and it shapes our values in all manner of ways.
    But big ideas can be a part of our experience too.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2064 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Inexperience as an MP is not the same as inexperience. And even then I personally believe we overvalue experience over talent.

    Absolutely. Chlöe stands out regardless of age. As with a lot of stuff recently our lack of a comprehensive civics education feels like an impediment to youth engagement. Eg. The first vote I cast was for The Communist Party. I had a vague inkling that I should vote for what I believed in but had in no way grasped how a vote can meaningfully influence change. I didn’t bother voting the next election. In the election following that I voted as instructed. It wasn’t until years later that I finally began taking the process seriously enough to dig a little deeper into policy. I was never apoliical, but certain connections between the political machine and life had never been made clear to me.

    Thanks PAS.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2142 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    And Bill English is an old white man, which is in some ways the next closest thing to an old white woman.

    The old white woman was last seen running for the hills, hoping she hadn't caught anything nasty...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2818 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Except I’m not interested in changing anyone’s values, and I never enter any discussion intending to change someone’s values.

    We're talking about politics, what progressives might be able to do better in that, what ideas might work well. There's going to be quite a lot of value discussion there, although naturally there's plenty of room for data and evidence. It will help in its way, but it's not the only thing that will work. It may not even be the most effective thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It is unbelievably hard to get someone to change their value-based position.

    Sometimes, with patience and time and effort on both parties, it's possible to change a value-based position. But you can't underestimate the effort involved for both parties. Most folks just don't care enough to bother.

    This, on the backfire effect, has been doing the rounds recently.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2708 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    The brilliant Jonathan Pie urges young people to engage in politics https://thestandard.org.nz/hey-kids-votings-fun/

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3114 posts Report Reply

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