Whoa. I should write to world leaders more often!
Yesterday there were two big, startling pieces of news, and for a change both of them were good news if you happen to share my political views. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been stopped at Standing Rock. And John Key has resigned as Prime Minister of New Zealand.
I dont imagine, of course, that the e-mail I sent to President Obama and posted on this blog last week had anything to do with the first piece of news. (Well, thats not technically true. I do imagine it, because its a nice little ego boost, but I dont seriously imagine it.) The people who won this fight are the Water Protectors who stood their ground so long and so bravely. If you asked me to guess what changed the states mind, my best guess is the army veterans who pledged to stand with the protesters. Armies are held together by honouring loyalty and bravery, and you cant honour loyalty and bravery and also point weapons at veterans from your own side.
The Standing Rock news is cause for celebration for now. Its not the end of the war. The Pipeline will be put somewhere else, not scrapped altogether, which is good news for the Lakota people and their water supply but not great for stopping climate change. And there will be more pipelines to come. This time, Donald Trump didnt get his hands on the situation. Next time will be on his watch. It will be worse than this one. But for now, we can celebrate.
John Keys resignation Im not so positive about. Dont get me wrong, its good news for my side. Not that Key is an unpleasant person as National leaders go; hes always presented himself as a cheerful, friendly, down-to-earth Kiwi bloke. Thats why his resignation is good news, because that persona Im not committing myself to any hypothesis about how genuine it was has been the cornerstone of the National Partys election strategy for over a decade, and now theyre going to have to come up with a new one. One lecturer a couple of years ago pointed out that whenever the Government was getting criticized in the news it was always some other minister facing the cameras, but whenever they were getting praised it would be John Key we saw. The lecture in question was on Machiavelli. Im just putting that out there.
No, what concerns me about John Key resigning is the why. All indications up till now, including Keys own public statements, were that he intended to run for a fourth National term in Government and, if he got it, to lead it through. The only reason he gave yesterday was that he wanted to spend more time with his family, which if youve watched any political dramas you will recognise as Politician Blackmail Avoidance 101. But what kind of pending scandal would spook the man who, in 2014, won an election with a book about him titled Dirty Politics fresh off the press?
It surely cant be coincidence that National just lost a by-election to Labour in Mt Roskill, by a landslide comparable to those we recently had in Canterbury and that National apparently had no plan for winning it. But that just compounds the mystery. What happened in Mt Roskill? Why has the National Party suddenly lost its will to fight? There is something going on here that we havent seen yet. And, much as I want National out next year, it bugs me that my countrys government can be thrown off balance by things that the public dont get to see.