And the winner is…

The Me generation is usually identified as the one born after us. But there is no Me generation, only Me people and, as each elections cycle shows, the Me people always have a winning vote.

Yet the media focusses on political parties, their policies and their representatives, and, of course, speculation about who is going to win, as if the outcome is unpredictable. Yet we know beyond doubt who is going to win. Apart from the democratic socialism era, roughly between 1935 and 1984, when the middle and working class joined together to vote for economic security for all, elections have consistently been won by the Me Party.

 A definition is called for here. The Me Party is not a political party. It consists of unconnected individuals who share certain views about government size and tax contribution. In general terms here are some important characteristics of the hugely influential Me Party person:

The Me Party person (Joe Kiwi) is personally generous and quick to respond to sudden tragedies suffered by individuals. When the ‘give a little’ call goes out, Joe Kiwi is likely to give a lot. He is also likely to donate to food banks and to the occasional homeless person. And yet this same person, a keen believer in charity, is in the communal sense, mean spirited. For instance, if a business lays off half the staff or moves the factory off shore he tends to feel, not empathy for the unemployed, but joy at the increased value of his shares.

The same Joe Kiwi who gives a little to the homeless, resents laws that improve conditions for rental housing tenants. He begrudges ‘living wage’ legislation and comments loudly and bitterly about suggestions of a fairer tax system. He supports private health insurance, griping at the tax spend on public health, until he is threatened by a life threatening disease and is successfully treated in a public hospital. Then he is effusive in praise of public hospitals.

Joe Kiwi is likely to be boring in his tirades about people on welfare, even when he’s enjoying the benefits of retirement welfare payments for decades of his life. Welfare beneficiaries are  bludgers, except for his kind of people who are, for reasons yet untold, entitled.

In other words, he is opposed to any kind of formalised, communal generosity that seeks to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. His irritation when his children find it difficult to afford a deposit on a house is short-lived because he helps them out. Doesn’t everybody? The alternative, government intervention to sort out an out of control housing market, is anti democratic as far as Joe Kiwi is concerned. He sees nothing wrong in governments pandering to investors while housing prices continue to soar out of reach of those who can only dream of being ‘in the market.’ Fairness is all very well but surely class divisions motivate people to move out of poverty.

Joe Kiwi belongs to by far the biggest party. A party that knows all other political parties will either respond to its whims or fail to become the governing party. The prime minister’s announcement that capital gains tax would not be introduced under her watch amounted to a bended knee in acknowledgment to the Me Party’s power and influence. So too the government’s recent timorous tax reform. Joe Kiwi knows he is fortunate and he is damn well not going to share his good fortune, not now and not ever. Unless, of course, the pandemic brings on another ‘Great Depression.’

 As history has shown, even the Me Party is open to change when fear takes a hand.

 Nevertheless, perhaps it’s time the media scrutiny of politicians and their policies shifted to an examination of Joe Kiwi’s character.

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Chris Horan

Chris is a former social worker, probation officer and Family Court counsellor, living in Hawea in the South Island.