It took me until Trump was elected to appreciate John Key. I finally realised that Key was a moderate person unlikely to do anything hideous to the social fabric, and was in essence neo-liberalism’s most palatable front man. He was a good Prime Minister; lefty, social-media hysteria aside (my own included).
As a symbol I don’t like him. As a symbol of the end of the planet he is perfect. We all know – somewhere back in our reptilian critical faculties – that the ecosystem on which our cosy civilisation is based is turning into quicksand, and the reason nothing is really being done is because (a) the problems are too abstract, (b) we’re too lazy and comfy, and (c) politicians maintain rather than transform systems. Key was another dose of anesthetic easing us along the willfully ignorant path to doom. But – to be fair – there was no better alternate and some who were considerably worse.
But no one is a symbol. Key is a person. His wife seems very nice and their long relationship appears – from my superficial reading of body language – to be something really sustaining and honest about them. Their children are curiously not what you would expect if he was really the gross, conservative asshole he is sometimes portrayed as. Ok, so Max might come off as a dork at times, but then he’s a young dude in the peak period of his life for being a dork. Thankfully, when I was being a dork I wasn’t the son of the prime minister. Both his children seem to have been allowed to grow up and pursue quite useless things. As someone who was allowed to do that, I approve.
In the end I feel a rising sense of irrelevance about the whole business. Key’s resignation makes the next election more lose-able for National, but it still seems unlikely. Surely they will make Joyce the next PM? English was hopeless as leader a decade ago. And yet, and yet, I just can’t be bothered with a change of government. All that pointless shuffling of office furniture and no discernible change in any policy that matters about anything. Andrew Little? Winston Peters? The Greens seem to have vanished. Which functionaries will draw the short straw and preside over the continuing diminishment of society?
Who has the courage, charisma and plan to take us in a direction that might save what is best, and alter what is worst in our societies? The longer the answer to that question is silence the more likely we turn away, and into ourselves. That is not what I want, but what I see coming. As the largess of the West tightens we will deal more and more in walls, and tariffs, and xenophobia.
In twenty years people will look back on Key and talk about the golden weather (again). Ironically. Given the state of the weather in 20 years.