This email is a bit different to the ones we usually send you. There’s no action for you to take, for one thing. It’s also longer than usual, because this is a moment to be thoughtful, not reactive, a time to dig beneath the simplifications that can too easily polarise us. So make a cup of tea, and another for someone nearby, and read on.
I’m writing today because Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.
Some of us may think Trump’s victory will send a much needed message to the political establishment that everyday people are fed up with politics, and an economy, that seems designed only to serve the elite.
Many of us, though, feel only sadness, fear and uncertainty about a future in which a man who has campaigned on messages of fear, hatred and exclusion will be President of one of the most powerful countries in the world.
In an increasingly politically, economically and socially polarised world, I feel a deep sense of privilege and responsibility to be writing to this ActionStation community – a broad and diverse group of fair-minded Kiwis who want to get things done, who act together to protect the best of what makes New Zealand wonderful, and to shape an even brighter future for all of us.
It’s our shared values, plus a willingness to act, that makes someone an ‘ActionStation kind of person’. Not your age, income, postcode, party politics or ethnic background.
There are so few places left in our world where people come together to agree and act on the values we share, rather than letting ourselves be pulled apart by the labels applied to us.
So today I’m writing to ask that we double down on our commitment to be that kind of community. A place where we won’t – and don’t – always agree all the time, but where we share core values of fairness and a commitment to the common good.
That matters more than ever because Trump is just the highest profile crest in a global wave. He and others like him across the world are shining a light on a deep unhappiness people feel about the way things are and they way they are headed.
Around the globe, mainstream parties on the left and the right have tied themselves up with a global corporate elite while life gets harder for everyone else. The strain on the working and middle class is unbearable and is tearing society in half as people look for someone to blame.
Trump, UKIP, the National Front and others are offering a way out by returning to a racist past when we were more isolated, homogeneous and violent.
It won’t put bread on the table but at least you can take solace in the fact that your skin colour and religion is the right one, and if you’re a man your gender is the right one, and you won’t have to watch anyone different fight for the same crumbs.
On the other hand, all over the world the parties of the the left, who were supposed to serve everyday people, are bending to serve a cosmopolitan elite. It’s not explicitly racist or sexist as long as everyone of every race and gender puts aside their rights in order to generate profit for the giant corporates and sign on the dotted line of the TPPA to ensure it.
So we, ordinary people dedicated to the common good, too often end up as political orphans. We believe in defending the rights of our workers, friends and neighbours over the profit of global corporations, and we believe in strengthening the power of democracy to protect those interests.
But we also believe that all humans deserve this protection equally. We believe in shedding the dark racism and patriarchy of the past and creating an inclusive, peaceful, fair society in which we neither discriminate nor exploit, but rather include and uplift.
If we feel the political establishment has abandoned us, we must hold our own ground. We must cling to these values and champion them in every forum, every election, every public debate and at every dining room table in New Zealand. As we head into our own election, in 2017, doing this together matters more than ever.
Here in New Zealand, we haven’t gone as far down this path of polarisation, and of political despair, as in other countries, and we have the opportunity to avoid going any further.
Because of our small size as a country, we remain more connected to each other as people, despite political differences. This has made us less susceptible to the deep polarisation that is tearing the US apart. But we can’t take this for granted, we need to choose to stay connected – to our shared values and to each other.
We cannot wait for political heroes to save us, nor succumb to despair in the face of political villains. Now, more than ever before, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
That’s why ‘people power’ isn’t just a nice slogan at ActionStation: it is ActionStation. It’s why we’re here and how we get things done.
In the next few weeks, you’ll be hearing from us asking for your input into plans for ActionStation for 2017. What I hope more than anything else this morning is that you’ll open those emails when you get them, click those links and have your say on what we do together next year.
Because if we are to make the most of this incredible, diverse ActionStation community in order to preserve the best of what we have in New Zealand, it’s time to get busy!