I suspect that most of us would agree with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that the best aspect of the year 2020 is that it is over.
Historians will take a different view and quite probably see it as a watershed year in politics both here in New Zealand and internationally.
Perhaps the most significant development was the defeat of United States President Donald Trump who represented an alarming resurgence of the populism which arose from the Great Depression of the 1930s and spawned the dictatorships in Europe leading to the catastrophe of World War II.
Its difficult for us to grasp Trump's attraction for a near majority of American voters, but at least partly to blame is a mass-participation selection system which favours blowhards of limited political experience but maximum media exposure.
It's unlikely that such a figure would get through any candidate selection process other than the American version, and it wasn't surprising that Trump quickly demonstrated that he was badly out of depth.
American journalist, H L Mencken, may have hit the nail on the head many years ago he wrote:
"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
Trump's malign presence may cast a shadow over the American political scene for some years to come, but his most likely achievement from now will be to divide the Republican Party, the majority of which tolerated and profited from his noxious behaviour. A return to political sanity in the US beckons.
A positive sign for democracy both in New Zealand and the US was a reversal of the trend towards reduced participation in general elections.
The 62 per cent turnout in the United States was the highest since 1960, and in New Zealand 82 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot with a welcome uptick in participation from the youngest cohort of voters.
All New Zealand's political parties begin each year with an extended caucus meeting, usually over two days, in which a strategy for the coming year in politics is discussed and developed. When president of the Labour Party I attended these gatherings, and it is now entertaining to observe the parties in the weeks after these meetings and to try to work out what tactics are behind their utterances.
This year we were denied the usual start to the political year through the cancellation of the Ratana commemorations, so it was the Waitangi celebrations that were to mark the beginning of the year in politics in 2021.
The Green Party finds itself in a difficult position of being neither in nor out of Government. There is no coalition with Labour, yet both co-leaders hold ministerial warrants, so their strategy would have been obvious – attack National – and that is just what they did, though on flimsy grounds.
Marama Davidson attacked National Party leader, Judith Collins for mildly and, I thought politely, challenging sexist rules around speaking on a Waitangi marae and Green MP, Chloe Swarbrick, chimed in with criticism of Collins for not having a pat answer on the banning of "gay conversion therapy".
The Māori Party MPs inexplicably failed to show up at Waitangi, abdicating the best centre stage in Māoridom's year to the large phalanx of grateful Labour Māori MPs. This was followed by a stunt around tie-wearing in Parliament. The tie rule was silly given that Peter Dunne wore a slightly ridiculous bow tie for years and a Green MP wears a bootlace around his neck which he calls a "bolo" tie.
National obviously aims to engage Māori voters and their strategy session resulted in a promise to run candidates in the Māori electorates. Sir John Key understood that National would have difficulty winning government without some Māori support and included Māori Party MPs in his government even when it was not necessary to form a majority.
National's decision is therefore a wise one, though it will jeopardise the Māori Party's hold on its one electorate seat.
The Act Party has a strategic problem. Party Leader, David Seymour, will be aware that Act profits electorally when National is at its weakest so a balancing act of attacking the Labour Government while denigrating National will be called for.
The Labour Party's strategy will be most interesting to watch as it develops through the political year. The party must work out how to retain much the huge gains it made in the 2020 election, especially in regional New Zealand where National's 15-year dominance of provincial cities was reversed.
Keeping both Hastings and Manurewa happy will require a fine sense of balance and some clever marshalling of limited financial resources.
Mike Williams grew up in Hawke's Bay. He is CEO of the NZ Howard League and a former Labour Party president.