Going by Prime Minister’s recent announcement of holding a global summit with France, it seems, that social media, and not climate change will be the new nuclear-free moment for Jacinda’s generation.
At least this is what that comes out from Jacinda Ardern’s audacious charge on demonstrating a show of global leadership on the seemingly complex challenge posed by social media on modern life.
The fact that Ms Ardern was inherently disposed, or would not be shying away from seeking the global centre stage, especially when showing leadership at the world stage in dealing with issues beyond the control of individual nation-states, was made clear quite early in the election campaign trail when she had roared that climate change will be “the nuclear-free moment for her generation.”
For uninitiated, especially the newly arrived migrants in the country, New Zealand’s “nuclear-free moment” came on February 4, 1985, when after a decade long public campaigning against the growing French and American attempts at nuclearising the South Pacific region, the then Labour government led by Prime Minister David Lange had denied American naval warship an entry into NZ waters – an act of defiance that not only risked its most trusted security partnership but also risked overall security.
That political action commenced a nuclear-free moment for New Zealand resulting in an immediate reciprocal action by the United States of America whereby severing visible intelligence and military ties with New Zealand and downgraded political and diplomatic exchanges.
Jacinda Ardern (Image: NZ Herald)
Indeed, New Zealand’s nuclear-free moment had an exalted place in New Zealand’s history and a contribution to shaping its international identity.
By referring to NZ’s nuclear-free moment in her election campaign, the then Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern had demonstrated resolve of not shying away from any political action required at the global stage, irrespective of any consequences whatsoever.
In that respect, it seems that Ms Ardern has seized upon the opportunity to act upon social media as the new “nuclear-free moment of her generation,” and determined to show a global leadership to curb the seeming menace of social media.
The statement by Ms Ardern’s spokesperson whereby it was made clear that her office has laid out clear expectations of seeing attendance at the highest level from most tech-companies reflects the amount of stealth that she intends to put behind the initiative. By no means, any-less than any future political action that would be required to deal head-on with the challenge of climate change.
It’s not to suggest that the challenge of climate is unreal by any means or a trivial issue to be left for the future generation to solve, but only to point towards Ms Ardern’s seemingly inherent disposition towards taking a global centre-stage.
Indeed, this is an ambitious and courageous leadership that not many ordinary political-souls can demonstrate or afford to display, given the fear of inviting electoral wrath from the respective constituencies they represent in the next elections.
Undoubtedly, it is this inherent fear of being punished in the next election-cycle that political leaders dare to not divulge their attention on problems that are beyond the political power they possess or their individual nation-states posses within the global system.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has time and again hinted that she was completely immune or least susceptible to such mortal fears gripping her seemingly ordinary political contemporaries, both in government and in the opposition.
However, only time will prove beyond doubt whether this clear demonstration of seeking global leadership for issues that her political contemporaries have so conveniently chosen to ignore, in favour of more modest goals of maintaining status quo in every realm of politics was a reflection of the absence of fear or a symbol of political naivety.
Till we see a definitive action that could offer a real change to the lives of ordinary people, their seemingly ordinary political leaders, and detractors in opposition, would continue to call it a distraction strategy from a perceived failure of delivering any meaningful progress in more mundane domestic policies around housing, education, health, child poverty, and KiwiBuild. It's another matter that those detractors also risk being called as “cynical.”
NZ politics is poised interestingly in next few months where Jacinda’s style of politics will continue to erode all power from her political contemporaries, without having the burden of delivering anything meaningful to the people it claims to serve.