Could we be having our own Brexit moment, our own Trump vote, in this participatory television phenomenon called Dancing With the Stars?

Look at what is happening. Week after week, viewers have taken to their phones to register gloriously contrarian votes against all rational judgment.

The expert judges are sitting there like the political elite — the hypercritical demanding one on the left who will never be satisfied, the seemingly arrogant, dogmatic peacock on the right who is usually right damn it, and the amiable screecher in the centre who has nothing interesting to say and gets the casting vote when it matters.

Like politicians they use odd terms only they understand and sometimes what we think they have said is completely at odds with what they do when they award scores. They are the real stars of the show, the contestants are just poor average Joes and Janes begging for their favours.


Yet the judges are out of their comfort zone, too. They may be expert dancers but they are not naturals on television. They think their punch lines will sound less trite if they are shouted or screeched.

But that annoyance is mild beside the efforts of the insufferable frontman, a living version of the Electoral Commission's little orange figure urging us all to vote, which people seem to be doing with a vengeance.

Then comes the commentary, the smart, superior "media" with its contempt for incomprehensible populism, always too quick to suspect the voters of racism. It's a popularity contest. The first three contestants to drop out were all showing up for their second turn at reality television. Obviously we don't like that.

Once David Seymour survived those rounds he was on a roll. Every Monday night you can almost hear the mischievous fingers on the phones and the chortling, fist-pumping joy in student flats as the bantam host has to announce Seymour is coming back next week.

You know the judges will be in despair and the programme makers will be having mixed feelings. The show is a hit but it would have been anyway. If this goes on it will be unrepeatable.

But what can they do? If Seymour goes now it will be an anti-climax. They have got more than a dancing show going on here. Dare they intervene?

If this is the way New Zealand can vent a rebellious itch in the body politic, how lucky we are. We are not voting to take ourselves out of a free trading market six times our size. We are not electing a president.

And we are not electing David Seymour. He knows that. It would be different if one or two previous Act Party leaders were getting this groundswell, it would go to their heads, which is why they wouldn't get it.


Seymour and some of his supporters who write to the paper are pretending the vote is for his chosen charity, Kidsline, which looks like a political choice. It is a help-line trying to save depressed adolescents from the decision he is trying to give the elderly.

He may think he is answering the accusation that his End of Life Choice Bill is making Kidsline's task harder but I'm not sure he is doing the bill much good on the dance floor. As a liberal columnist, Gordon McLauchlan, once said, anybody who promotes euthanasia is very foolish.

Seymour is not as foolish has he is looking on this show but his bill is. Dancing, he is no worse than most of us would be, which is probably why he is still there. It's a vote for the average guy, a delicious poke in the eye of an establishment that feels almost exhilarating.

It probably has political parties wondering whether the rebellious urge might cross into more serious territory at the next election. National may be hopeful, Labour worried because populism usually breaks right. But when it comes to decisions that matter we are blessed with a voting electorate that is remarkably stable.

National voters seem to have shelved their disappointed at being denied the victory they celebrated on election night. At the same time National is holding all the vote it had at the election and has had for 10 years now. As long as National's polls remain high, we are probably in no danger of a Brexit or a Trump.

National will remain where John Key positioned it after he took over from Don Brash, dropping racial and social conservatism for liberalism on Treaty issues, same-sex marriage and much else. Likewise, Act has returned to more market liberalism and less racism and law and order.

As for Seymour himself, he's riding a monster larger than him or his politics and he probably would have preferred to bow out long ago. But hell, it's funny.