• NZIGA

    The emergence of a new National party leader, seemingly out of nowhere, has – not surprisingly – raised a number of questions as to who Todd Mulller actually is and what makes him tick. He has been an MP for some time but seems to have hidden his light under a bushel until now and is still largely unknown.

    One early indication of what he stands for has, however, caught the eye, and been remarked upon. Television cameras picked up a MAGA (Make America Great Again) cap, prominently displayed in his home office – and it has apparently been proudly and conspicuously taken with him to his new office as Leader of the Opposition.

    A cap bearing the MAGA insignia is the hallmark of Trump supporters in the US and is, at first sight, an odd symbol for a New Zealand politician to choose. And, as some commentators have pointed out, the connotations are even odder. The cap is habitually worn by some of Trump’s more extreme supporters and carries with it, for many observers, overtones of a racially divided America in which US “greatness” is seen to be the concomitant and expression, not only of an extreme right-wing, but of a white supremacist, element in American society.

    Sitting as it does, displayed in Todd Muller’s office, the cap is presumably more than just an incidental piece of political memorabilia, chosen and acquired at random on a trip to the US. Muller can hardly be unaware of or unhappy about the interpretation that has been placed upon it. He will have displayed it for a purpose – but let us be charitable as to what that purpose might be.

    It might be that he is simply an admirer of the US and – even warts and all – of the US President. That would be consistent with the explanation he has himself offered – that, as a youngster, he wanted to be President of the United States. That, however, would have been an unusual (and unattainable) ambition for a Kiwi youngster, and would still not explain why a mature and (presumably) worldly-wise Kiwi adult would wish to pay homage so ostentatiously to the current occupier of the White House.

    It might, on the other hand, be a rather clumsy attempt by the new National leader to suggest that, by aping Donald Trump, he also sees it as his task to make his country “great again”. If this is nothing more than a rather empty plagiarism, (and an ill-judged one at that, given Trump’s manifold failures in office) so be it; but let us assume that Muller really does intend to indicate that he wants, in Trumpian style, to make New Zealand “great again”.

    Can he really mean that New Zealand has lessons to learn from the American President if it wishes to be “great again”? Has he not registered that New Zealand’s success in bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control has been universally recognised, praised and celebrated, while Donald Trump wallows ever deeper in a catastrophe of his own creation? While the US is the object of pity and derision in the light of its new role as the worldwide epicentre of the pandemic, New Zealand’s international standing, in recognition of our current achievements, is sky-high.

    It is of course the case that, following our world-leading success in controlling the pandemic, we now have a major reconstruction task ahead of us in terms of rebuilding the economy. But is there any reason not to entrust that task to a leadership that has achieved so much already?

    Muller’s predecessor discovered that there was a price to pay for sniping from the sidelines at a national mood of determination to stick together so as to defeat the virus. Muller may also be misjudging the national mood if he thinks that we are now in need of a Trump-like “saviour” to carry us forward and to make us “great again”.

    Instead of Make America Great Again, he might think instead of inscribing the acronym NZIGA on his cap, and then displaying or even wearing it with pride. What would NZIGA represent? Easy – that “New Zealand Is Great Already”.

    Bryan Gould
    25 May 2020

2 Comments

  1. John Drinnan says: May 27, 2020 at 3:23 amReply

    Mr Gould has been a sensible and realistic voice on the Left, But his joining the Red Hat fiasco underrmines his record . The MAGA Hat fiasco was promoted by media a time it was adjusting to new leader they had hardly noticed before. Coming four months before an election. In my opinion was a election season message from media to Muller that they had the power to damage the relaunch. Did anyone else care or refute his claim that it was merely a moment? Muller cowered – aware coverage of the memento hat had become a “distraction” . He had collected Clinton memorabilia But did not create uproar that he was clinging to inclinations of the former secretary of state. Mr Gould asks if the ownership of a red MAGA hat might be a memento. But it might be a sign of his true anti democratic tendencies. The upshot is that an intelligent analysts on the Left now repeats memes from a click baiting media,. It’s election time. We can only hope that his rational commentary returns after September.

  2. John Drinnan says: May 27, 2020 at 3:24 amReply

    Mr Gould has been a sensible and realistic voice on the Left, But his joining the Red Hat fiasco undermines his record . The MAGA Hat fiasco was promoted by media a time it was adjusting to new leader they had hardly noticed before. Coming four months before an election. In my opinion was a election season message from media to Muller that they had the power to damage the relaunch. Did anyone else care or refute his claim that it was merely a memento? Muller cowered – aware coverage of the memento hat had become a “distraction” . He had collected Clinton memorabilia. he said. But did not create uproar that he was clinging to inclinations of the former secretary of state. Mr Gould asks if the ownership of a red MAGA hat might be a memento. But it might be a sign of his true anti democratic tendencies. The upshot is that an intelligent analysts on the Left now repeats memes from a click baiting media,. It’s election time. We can only hope that his rational commentary returns after September.