I’m getting sick of repeating myself on this subject, but I really need to: Today’s so-called “March for Democracy” was stupid and self-serving, as we all know, but it was also deceptive and designed simply to advance an extremist political agenda.
Since the rightwing christianist extremists behind all this can’t be bothered with facts, truth or accuracy, let’s review what they don’t want anyone to know:
87.4% of New Zealand voters DID NOT vote the way the extremists say.
Instead, 87.4% of New Zealand voters who voted cast a ballot the way the extremists wanted. However, what the activists don’t want you to know is that the voter turnout was only 56.09% of eligible voters. That means that contrary to their constant deceptive propaganda, fewer than 48.98% of all eligible votes actually voted the way the activists claim. That’s nowhere near the 87.4% figure they always claim—in fact, that’s not even a majority.
We can’t know anything about the intentions of the people who didn’t vote, but there’s no reason to assume that they would’ve voted the way the christianist extremists wanted. Large numbers of people declared they wouldn’t vote at all because they had contempt for the referendum.
Part of the reason for that contempt—including by leading politicians—is that the extremists deliberately worded the referendum in such a confusing way that it would get exactly the result it did. So, we can assume that many people who voted "no" do not, in fact, support the extremists’ views.
The referendum has nothing to do with John Key or the National Party.
The marchers reportedly chanted “John Key, listen to me”. That was on many of pre-printed signs. Among the possibly un-authorised signs was one that read, “JFK, John Fuhrer Key” (for the record, Key’s middle name is Phillip).
The activists have the right to ask Key to back their position: He’s the prime minister, after all. But their propaganda for their march implied that the votes for Key and the National Party were identical to the supporters of the referendum. That’s utter nonsense.
As I’ve said before, we have no idea how many of people who voted for the National Party (and John Key) also voted in favour of smacking, so it’s completely illogical to assume any correlation. New Zealanders have a history of voting out governments every few years, and nothing can be assumed by the fact they do— it certainly says nothing about their ideology.
The law is working exactly as intended.
After the referendum, the government ordered a review of the law to see if it’s being enforced as Parliament intended. Guess what? It is. Despite all the lies and distortions coming from the christianist extremists, the law is working.
So, what’s really going on here?
The christianist extremists are using this issue to recruit supporters and, more importantly, donations from among their core constituency. That’s their primary objective. But secondarily, they’re attempting to build a far-right christianist political movement to enter electoral politics. No christianist party has entered Parliament since MMP parliaments began in 1996, and none will: New Zealanders are too secular, too rational and too centrist for that.
However, if the christianist extremists can hide their true motives and their true agenda, they think they can peel off enough of the National Party’s rightwing supporters to get into Parliament. If that happens, they'll believe, they can eventually take over the whole government; it has happened elsewhere before.
It is this danger, this threat to democracy, that compels me to expose their lies and deception. Democracy gives them the right to believe whatever they want, and to express those views in all lawful ways. It does not, however, give them the right to dictate that the majority of New Zealanders do their bidding. This post is also an example of democracy in action. The fact that democracy has been proven to work is the real lesson in this sorry saga.
Footnote: At between 4,000 and 5,000 attendees, "Auckland businessman" Colin Craig, who paid for this charade, spent around $100 for every person who showed up. They claimed they'd have the largest demonstration in New Zealand history, but they weren't even remotely close to that: The largest-ever rally was attended by 50-70,000 people in 1938. Even the far right fundamentalist church that organised a 2005 march up Queen Street to oppose the Civil Unions Act had more than twice as many people.