Tuesday, August 02, 2005

National and the USA

The big issue of the moment is that Labour has discovered that Members of the national party have been meeting with people from the USA and Lockwood Smith is reported as asking for help of a US think tank.
So in the spirit of my previous posts how should this effect you’re voting habits?

Well if you despise the USA and see it as a sort of "evil empire" then you will probably not want to vote for National - then again you were never going to vote for national anyway.

So what has national done? It has asked for a (admittedly biased) foreign group to consider ways of addressing a policy issue in NZ. However this is pretty similar to the meetings of left of centre politicians that labour attends or the very concept of learning from others experiences.
Does this cross a line into propaganda? Well it didn’t even happen so no, not even close. But even if it did all political manoeuvring is related to propaganda. Posting up signs with "tax" and "cut" or ribbons of labour preventing babies from falling into some unknown abyss are all propaganda.

The democratic system functions on the assumption that more information is better and those citizens will be able to sift through it to make a vote. Whether Labour used Americans to think it up or national used Iraqis doesn't really matter very much since we can evaluate each argument on its merits, and if we are too lazy to look at the detail we can evaluate it considering the source (don’t tell me Lockwood was suggesting an anonymous think tank - that is ridiculous). If anything bringing ideas in from all around the world just slightly improves the quality of the debate.

Therefore this whole debate is a storm in tea cup. Lockwood did nothing wrong except in as far as he should have known the US would say no and therefore wasted his breath.

Having said that the US of course did the politically appropriate thing in staying out. US aid is politically a poison chalice.


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