Right now, you and I are witnessing some of the nastiest things ever seen in our political landscape, and that's a fairly hefty call to make.
I am referring to the personal attacks on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In addition, her fiance Clarke Gayford has got a really good work-over. Now, I am not referring to the comments about Ardern from departing MP Louisa Wall because, quite simply, that's rhetoric disguised as fact.
These past weeks have seen Ardern's face being superimposed on some rather distasteful material along with constant disparaging comments on social media. Plus, there's that guy who was jailed for threatening to kill her.
What's going on is not just unbecoming, it's actually very ugly, horrible, and nasty, irrespective of whether you like her politics or not. It is also the first time I've seen a partner dragged into the mudslinging as much as Gayford.
I am the vice president of Te Pāti Māori and, come the next election, the only place we can get votes from is Labour. However, we will win votes because of our unfettered, unapologetic policy programme. We will win votes contesting ideas, not personalities.
In my world of politics, what I say is fact-based. It is not born from speculation. But some doubt whether this approach will work. This type of tactic may be justified if it was specifically targeting issues such as the slow police response or the high cost of living.
I'll dissect the latter as an example. The elevated cost of living is happening right around the world and, if it was solely Ardern's responsibility, I would get that. But there is more to it.
Firstly, supply chain disruption. Secondly, productivity chain disruption in workplaces around the world trying to come back online. Thirdly, and most importantly, the filthy, rotten gouging going such as can be seen with the plasterboard shortage.
Clearly none of these factors can be attributed directly to the Prime Minister of the day. Thus, the type of negative behaviour currently aimed at Ardern is not about the policy, it is about her as a person.
These guys are speculating about her personality and postulating on her character and even worse, that of her partner without any evidence to back it up.
They are critical of her because, for the first time in their lives, a Government is saying no to tax cuts and instead, redistributing wealth in terms of the minimum wage and benefit uplift.
Most unsettling is that for the first time in 50 years they could not escape a Government mandate which limited their freedom to travel. The annual European summer holiday disappeared. We all give up our civil liberties. The well-off that are flooding the National and Act party war chests in a non-election year is telling. It's about privilege, entitlement and always getting their way because they can buy it.
Eventually, the trolls will be muted once they sense a "win", to get rid of Ardern. They'll get their tax cuts, control the water assets, and continue the duopoly in construction, banking, electricity, cartel in grocery, and other select industries. This is the only Government that has instigated inquiries to question them and it's making them nervous on their well-padded high horses.
Ardern has sympathisers, but it seems to me they have descended into a bunker mentality, hoping this will blow over. Nevertheless, it comes down to the type of political discourse we want as we continue our ever-evolving nationhood story.
Discuss the contest of ideas not the contest of personalities. Hold the Prime Minister to account, but quit the character assassinations.
• John Tamihere is a former Labour Cabinet minister and chief executive of Whānau Ora and West Auckland Urban Māori organisation Te Whānau o Waipareira.