The National Party of New Zealand has just had a change of leadership, and the man now in charge and hoping to be our next Prime Minister after the upcoming election is Todd Muller.
I’m not convinced that picking a conservative, catholic who’s against abortion and euthanasia is exactly the refresh the Party needed, particularly since Simon Bridges seemed to have most of those qualities already, but time will tell if it was the right move politically.
I tend towards the centre-left in my politics but labels are not always accurate. There are some things I am more right-leaning on and others left-leaning, but generally I consider myself liberal, and a staunch believer in equality and democracy.
So, Muller isn’t really the kind of person I’d like to see leading our country, but you never know, he may well surprise me.
Unfortunately, his past musings and a picture of him with some memorabilia have made me somewhat uneasy.
Apparently, when he was younger Muller fell under the thrall of the American Dream while reading an encyclopaedia.
His own version of the dream was the disturbing desire to be ‘President for Life’ of the United States of America.
We could throw him a bone and accept that most kids have outlandish fantasies. But what’s interesting is that his dream was not to be Prime Minister for life of New Zealand. No, it was to lead the most powerful country on earth until he died.
Now that is a BIG dream. It’s the kind of dream shared by people who became or attempted to become leaders for life such as Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, Joseph Stalin, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Kim Jong Un, Robert Mugabe – and quite possibly Donald Trump.
Speaking of Trump, Mr Muller was in America during the 2016 US Presidential election and bought some political souvenirs including an infamous Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat, which is now displayed in his office.
We are told it’s ‘just a souvenir,’ but it’s a very strange one to have.
Let’s face it, all us have memorabilia in our homes and our offices. Why? Because they remind us of things that have meaning for us, moments or people who made an impression. We display them not only for ourselves, but for others to see.
These symbols state very clearly what is important to us.
In Muller’s case, he has made a deliberate choice to display in his office a symbol that has become the rallying point for a very disturbing coterie of people: white supremacists, misogynists, bigots, fundamentalist Christians, and the most dangerous President in US history.
It is impossible to separate that hat from the actions and words of Donald Trump, his enablers, and his supporters.
There has been an argument from apologists for Muller that of course he would buy memorabilia associated with the Republican Party and Trump because Muller is a conservative and the Republicans are conservative.
But that is of course a lie.
Trump is NOT conservative. Trump is NOT a Republican.
His entire focus is on his own aggrandisement and enrichment. He is a con artist who has warped the Republican Party into a caricature of itself in order to increase his own power and wealth.
No rational human being could see anything good in what Trump does or says. His incompetence, his ego, his inarticulate ramblings, and his corruption, are obvious to anyone who actually pays attention to them and who isn’t blinded by the lie that he is ‘on their side’.
So I find it impossible to believe that any politician in New Zealand, a country that has a very good track record when it comes to freedom and democracy, could possibly align themselves to Trump and his so called values.
By choosing to display the MAGA hat in his office, Muller gives tacit approval to Trump, and all the people who lay claim to what that represents.
Remember, the MAGA hat was in the possession of the coward and murderer who slaughtered 51 people in the Christchurch Mosque last year.
We could give Muller the benefit of the doubt and say that for him, it was just a way of remembering his time observing a tumultuous moment in US politics.
I hope that is true because it means Muller simply showed a monumental lack of judgement about a symbol so closely allied to prejudice and violence.
The alternative is that he is a supporter of Trump and the hat is a symbol of that, now that would be truly disturbing.
The picture at the top of this story is owned by Alex Braae.