Not wishing Donald Trump well

There are times when, as a politician, you have to hold your nose, to smile politely and get on with it.

Yesterday, in New Zealand’s parliament, was supposed to be one of those times.

My Green party colleagues and I were asked to support a government motion to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the US presidential election. These types of motions are fairly commonplace in our parliament. They are token gestures of support and diplomacy – convenient ways to express our best wishes to political leaders in faraway places. They usually pass with little fanfare.

Yesterday was no different in that the motion passed – but this time, there were 14 objections. From us. For me, and many others, this was not a time for business as usual.

Donald Trump will almost certainly never hear about what I said in parliament yesterday or, for that matter, give a flying toss. In that sense, our position may seem futile.

However, it is unconscionable that the Green party of Aotearoa New Zealand – which has a proud record of promoting tolerance, inclusiveness and peace – would send our best wishes to a man who has spouted misogynistic, racist, xenophobic and climate change-denying views.

As the Republican candidate in the US presidential election, Trump already had a significant platform; soon, as president, he will have the biggest megaphone in the world.

So no, I don’t believe this is a time to be diplomatic or polite. If others wish to defend the actions of a sexual predator, they are welcome to. I won’t, and neither will my colleagues.

To be clear, I am not questioning the legitimacy of this result, or the rights of the American people to democratically elect the president of their choice. It’s also worth pointing out, as many others have, that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Trump.

To any Americans reading this who are frustrated by a political system that does not necessarily reward the candidate with the most votes, I can empathise. New Zealand also had an issue with disproportionate political representation under a first-past-the-post electoral system, before we changed to a proportional system in 1996. Continue reading

  • Metiria Turei is a New Zealand member of parliament and the co-leader of the Green party of Aotearoa New Zealand.

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