Politics is forever the dichotomy between doing what is popular and what is needful. The old saying that turkeys do not vote for an early Christmas is so true. For the leaders that thrive on being popular, polling has become their crutch. They can sway with the lightest of breezes weaving through an election cycle with the most positive of polls. The politicians who like to reform and see their election as a mandate to “do something” are far and few between. You could name our reformers on the fingers of one hand.
Reformers need a window of opportunity. They need a set of circumstances that create the chance to swing their axe without having to stop and check their rear vision mirror. Muldoon very ably set up such a window for Douglas to have three or four years of axe swinging. We still bemoan the infamous ‘cup of tea’ but in reality Douglas and Prebble had more time to wrestle their changes through than most reformers have had through history. Douglas said on many occasions reforms needed to be exacted quickly even if a little dirty or lacking final refinement.
Reality is that the big majority of us hate change. We get comfort from the status quo even if we know full well that it is underperforming. The other obvious problem is that for every failure there is roughly the same number of solutions as there are voters. Read more »