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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Too old for politics?

14 January 2021

It seems that the USA is teetering on the brink of civil war.

Well that's what I've been told by people who live there and are genuinely concerned for the future of their nation.

Apparently the far right are weaponing up and preparing to take "affirmative action" to try and address the wrongs they feel have been perpetrated against them by a rigged election.

How much of this is reality and how much is illusion?

I'm happy to admit that I have no bleeding idea.

All I know is that there are a lot of frightened people and, in today's media-rich world, perception shapes reality.

To be honest, the whole thing is a mess of the highest order.

Regardless of who is right, it seems that the USA has lost its oft-touted position as the home of democracy and freedom. Whether all the allegations of "rigged" elections are true or not doesn't really matter. The fact that we have a nation where a goodly percentage of its people are now living in fear of another goodly percentage speaks of the disfunctional nature of both its politics and its society.

There's an interesting comparison between how well New Zealand is functioning, as a democracy and a society, and how poorly the USA is functioning.

I am pretty sure that age has a lot to do with the stark contrasts being seen.

Trump is an old man. Biden is an old man. Age may bring wisdom but it also brings inflexibility, arrogance and other far from desirable traits.

Here in New Zealand we have a very young (by world standards) Prime Minister.

Yes, in many ways she is naive and has made some glaring mistakes (driven mainly by her spin-meisters and PR people) but if you compare her performance and her ability to unite the nation to that of her counterparts in the USA there is just no contest.

As an old fart, I fully realise that although it's essential to have older folk involved, they really aren't the best people to put in charge of creating a nation's future trajectory. They're too risk-averse, to backward-looking and too set in their ways to properly embrace the changes needed to surge ahead.

Let the older folks remain as a healthy check on the over-exuberance of youth but do not give the oldies control because, as we've seen in the USA, it can be a dangerous path to take.

My only concern now is that here in New Zealand, Jacinda may be a little too focused on her own image to be as effective as she once was. When she started she had no "image" to protect and nothing to lose by taking bold and decisive steps. Now however, she's been hailed as everything from the new Mother Theressa to the second coming of Christ by the world's media so protecting that image is likely playing an increasingly important role in all her decision-making. That's bad.

We can perhaps see this becoming increasingly a factor over the last 12 months alone.

When CV19 first became an issue in NZ, she acted very quickly and locked us all down for as many weeks as it took to get rid of community transmission.

Now however, she seems far more reluctant to make such bold moves, as we face almost certain reintroduction of community transmission as a result of more contagious strains arriving every day in our proven "dodgy" isolation/quarantine units.

Of course NZ's response to CV19 still shames that of the USA, but for how long?

I'd love to hear what readers think regarding the benefits/disadvantages of electing old politicians. Should there be a cut-off point for qualification to stand as an MP? Are old people really capable of leading a country and maximising its full potential whilst also unifying its people?

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