Pessimism and cynicism in politics have had their way for far too long. Surely, breathtaking Naivety deserves a chance. Now would seem as good a time as any to try some simplistic solutions, such as ending the confrontational basis of politics.
The current system is bad for the politicians, as it rewards their worst behaviour. It's bad for us, if only for the terrible example it sets to pre-schoolers. It's bad for the country, as our social ills continue to mount while they bicker over trivialities. And it's bad for the world, as issues that will have equal impact on people of every political persuasion go unaddressed.
There was a brief glimpse of how the world could be following the March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks when politicians agreed on a semi-automatic weapons ban. But it wasn't long before this devolved into political point scoring over the cost of a buyback.
Among the sadder books you could read this year is Marilyn Waring's The Political Years, her account of nearly a decade spent banging her head against a wall in Wellington. Even sadder is a Spinoff video showing her in conversation with Chloe Swarbrick, also elected to parliament at 23, the same age as Waring was, which makes it clear the Green MP is enduring the same frustrations nearly 50 years later.
Being a politician today is not about any of the noble ideals which might first spark someone's ambition. It is about putting down your opponent, grabbing some media attention and making sure everyone knows your name.
Politics is the natural home of fake news, much of it traceable back to politicians. As Swarbrick says "evidence is anathema to politics" because evidence requires intelligent consideration over time.
The adversarial system is fine in principle. But somewhere along the way the notion of healthy contestability metastasised into toxic hostility.
And what can be its purpose when neither major party holds fundamentally different views on desirable outcomes or the economic systems they believe will achieve them? The Greens, being marginally different from the mainstream, attract the most vindictive hostility inside and outside politics.
The flaw at the heart of the system is implicit in the very name given to the people not in government - the opposition; ie, whatever the other side says, we're against it, irrespective of its merits.
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MMP was supposed to deal to this. To the extent that we can no longer be held to national ransom by a bully such as Robert Muldoon, it has. But we have not seen the promised benefits of compromise and consensus that were predicted to follow from the formation of coalition governments.
As coalition partner Winston Peters' role in the capital gains tax farrago demonstrated, one determined coalition partner (with a gift for side-tracking the media) can derail the most cogent agenda.
You don't have to be stupid to run for parliament, but it probably makes things more tolerable when you get there.
Read any political memoir or valedictory interview with a departing MP and they will all pay tribute to the cross-party work done in committees where – away from the energising power of the media spotlight – people can work together.
In the flesh, many politicians give the impression of teetering on the brink of sanity and reasonableness, which lends weight to the suspicion that it is the system in which they work that turns them into the caricatures we see in the media.
I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture.
Actually, that last sentence wasn't me, it was that notorious combination of cock-eyed optimist and fire-breathing radical, Her Majesty the Queen. And she's had more time than most to think about these matters.