On the alleged taming of Luxon

I kind of have a feeling the sentiment regarding the apparent sinking of Luxon in an interview with Jack Tame today isn’t going to pan out the way people think.

Yes, yes, it is absolutely true and correct to say that Luxon has found himself caught in a heap of contradictions – between what he talks about and pretending to be a problem, with what he is actually prepared to do if he wins an election; between the things he said he intended to do, and how those actively fueled the issues he sought to pillory the government over… you get the idea.

Except here’s the thing.

Most people don’t have a coherent view of the universe — let alone something infinitely more intimate than the politics of a small island nation. Our worldviews are awash in a quagmire of mutually conflicting preferences and outrage-inducing red flag buttons.

Some people look at politicians and their presumptive views – maybe even read political manifestos (if anyone still does) or commentaries about them – before deciding who they want to vote for.

Others wonder if they feel they can “trust” someone with power – and that can, indeed, come down to whether they can put on a decent presentation on camera by responding to reasonably simple and straightforward questions. (Responding… does not necessarily mean responding Good or sincerelynecessarily – but that’s another matter)

However, for a sizable quotient of our body politic (as in many other modern western democracies) what they seek is mere resonance with things they already believe or can reasonably push or persuade to believe.

And, as we have observed, this DOES NOT REQUIRE that an internally consistent worldview be adopted by the politician courting them. Rather the opposite.

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It just requires being able to issue a veritable checklist of talking points or hot spots – and then letting the natural artifice of human cognitive filtering do the rest.

People don’t hear contradictions anymore, if contradictions are things they already unconsciously forget about themselves when it comes to their own personal preferential perspectives.

Plus, to add to all of this, it’s long been known that New Zealanders tend to like an underdog and will go along with someone who is seen as ‘unsuccessful’.

I have repeatedly observed that in 2014, for example, the year of the Dirty Politics revelations… National’s vote actually went at the topprecisely because we automatically downplayed the impropriety in question – at least in part because the media was perceived to be making a big deal out of it.

It turned out that John Key was being hounded by the press and beaten – so people didn’t know why (and why) he was being hounded and saw him as a more sympathetic figure.

Helluva thing, really, to have a six-year-old multi-millionaire incumbent prime minister going up against a Labor party about to deliver its worst result since 1922… and somehow said the prime minister is appeared to be the “underdog” or “marginalised”, but that is how it can so easily appear from the outside.

Tame’s interview was interesting and entertaining; but a lot of people out there will, if anything, double in their emerging support for Luxon.

Not because everything Luxon said or did in that performance was “smart” or visionary.

But rather precisely because we’ve all had the situation of a young man walking in and asking us “twisted” questions. [which may, or may not, actually have been ‘twisty’ rather than reasonably direct and straightforward as various of Tame’s were] and feeling unfairly strained as a fairly direct result.

Exposing that Luxon is in fact not (yet) the man capable of dethroning Ardern does not entice his followers to abandon ship.

Because they have already started to ‘buy’. So pointing out that the future Emperor is, it seems, somewhat devoid of clothes…just makes them much more determined to dig in and declare that they definitely support a winner here and regardless of any purported “evidence” to the contrary.

One of the (many) things that George W. Bush proved is that you can, indeed, “miss” your way to victory.

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