Like most of the things this year, election-2020 is also going to be itched in public memory for quite some time for being the first covid-elections, regardless which side of the political divide one’s opinion rests.
Although, we hope that this should also be the last covid elections as well, assuming we get a vaccine soon, and the world returns to the pre-covid normalcy, even if slowly, yet there is no escaping from the fact that this is the first-ever covid elections for New Zealand.
The covid-19 is responsible for bringing almost the entire world to a standstill and causing major disruption to every aspect of modern life in a manner unseen since the days of the two world wars almost three-quarters of a century ago.
In New Zealand we are certainly placed better than many other parts of the world; however, we are yet not out of the woods – in both – health and safety challenge and bearing the financial cost of our elimination approach in managing the tricky virus.
Given the scope of disruptions that we all are starting to face in the immediate future, there was a huge expectation that this election campaign could have been different than what we have become used to in last many years, if not decades.
At least, many would have expected some deviation - if not complete disruption - in the major party’s respective traditional belief system, world views and ideology and expected them to come up with some radical new approach.
However, sadly though, both major parties have chosen to remain static, repetitive and predictable in their outlook and failed to capture this opportunity to embark upon some new, untested paths of addressing long persisting social problems.
On most of the persisting social issues facing our country, both major parties have chosen to stick to their traditional worldviews, without conceding ground on anything that was either not working for them despite their best intentions, or acquiescing to the need for changing tac.
Those on the side of the political left, continue to believe that all social progress and transformation can only happen by remaining aspirational, and not following up with smart measurable actions on the ground.
Their urge to tax wealth - either inherited or self-created – remains insatiable, and for those on the far left of the political spectrum, even non-negotiable.
Labour-Green remains unapologetically aspirational, to an extent sometime appearing clueless on actions needed on the ground to make dent into the problems that they believe are result of collective soceital negligence over the years.
In the last term, the failures of some of their most aspirational goals of Labour-led coalition on Kiwibuild, housing, Light rail, or immigration is long and listless, yet they refuse to subdue aspirations and replace it with measurable targets.
A case in the point, one of their key election promise in this campaign is for more sick leaves and public holidays, almost unmindful of the current chaotic economic climate and future of those very same businesses where the workers need to be working, before being able to take advantage of leaves and public holiday.
Nothing mentioned above is to suggest that the National Party has been better in any respect.
In fact, the manner in which their traditional world view has been presented in this election has been largely responsible for keeping their longtime traditional supporters at the bay in successive polls.
National’s obsession with “personal responsibility” for most of the socio-economic challenges – be it law and order or even obesity – is simply confounding.
The rationale advanced by the party for their “tax-cuts” in 2020 election when the country is staring an economic downturn, has been completely opposite for the same tax cut earlier being promised in 2017 elections when we were supposedly doing well and therefore deserved tax cuts.
To add insult to injury is the fact that the same tax cuts that National believes is essential for helping the economy out of recession by enhancing the spend are not given to a vast majority of low-income earners - who experts belive are big on spending and low on savings.
The party also remains status-quoist in every realm of human activity, be it managing the economy, agriculture, climate change, uplifting those facing generational socio-economic deprivation.
Sadly, immigration remains the only area where both major parties have odd convergence, and that too, in remaining equally evasive and non-committal that offers no clarity to either businesses or migrants.
This election has indeed come down to a choice between two leaders and their political persona, rather than any substantive policies that their respective parties intend to implement.
In that regard, both the major parties have remained wide off the mark in this first-ever Covid election, which could have seen far more bold politics than what we have seen in this campaign.
Yet, we will have a new government soon, with a fresh mandate to act on the same problems that we have been trying to fix for quite some time.