I've read so many columns on who was the biggest political winner and who was the biggest political loser of 2019.
This is a major problem.
When we boil politics down to basic winners and losers, when we draw up our list of events in politics that we forecast, then mark ourselves against our own work, we forget there are human beings involved.
Because politics isn't about which politician did the best job at showing empathy in times of sadness, or the worst job at completing promises made in manifestos, or the best job at surviving in their job despite being pretty hopeless at it.
Politics is everything that goes on in our worlds.
The way in which we talk about politics is broken. We talk about political "commentators" as though it's a sport. But it's a sport that decides how people live their lives. Sometimes it's a sport that decides if people get a life to live.
Yes, politics is the 4.2 per cent unemployment we're experiencing, lower than it ever was under John Key's National Government. But it's also the nearly 300,000 people living in New Zealand who want to work more than they are able to.
Politics is the health system having been chronically underfunded for a long time which this government says it's trying to address. But it's also the nurse who just spent a shift working morning to night and wants to spend time with their family but starts their next shift in just a few short hours.
Politics is saying that every state school in the country will get a minimum of $50,000 to spend on "infrastructure". But it's also the children who finish their school day and go home to a house where there are no books, no food, and no warmth.
Instead we get "Who's preferred Prime Minister?" "Which party is leading in the polls?" "Will National's latest gangs policy resonate with the public?" "Is Jacinda Ardern still the most popular politician in the country?"
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All of these questions are redundant. We should be asking "what are the problems facing our country, and which party has the courage and correct policies to fix them?"
I often wondered why so many activists kept saying that Jacinda should go to Ihumātao when I didn't think she had the power to actually do much when she got there. But that's not the politics. The politics would be her going to show people she is listening. To show people she wants to engage with them.
Instead what we consider politics is the optics of her going. How will the voters feel about that? Will white New Zealand react badly to a Prime Minister kow-towing to Māori? Will it open a whole lot of "treaty settlements" that had been closed?
The politics of that problem is really colonisation and how it continues to loom large over both Pākehā and Māori New Zealanders and how it's not something that happened 179 years ago or 250 years ago. It's something that is still happening.
Politics isn't thinking about introducing a higher tax bracket to try and close the inequality gap that is rife throughout countries that adopted Friedman capitalism.
Politics isn't even acknowledging that a higher salary tax on workers is more burden for them when the mega-rich who earn money from assets instead of work continue to not pay their fair share and earn far more wealth from those assets.
Politics is recognising that at the end of every policy decision, every announcement, every political speech there is a human being that is impacted. That there will be an impact on someone's ability to put shoes on their children's feet.
Because politics is life.