Saturday, 3 December 2011

why not?

"shouldn't be pandering to minorities"

i can't count the number of times i've heard that phrase, and it still makes me sick. let's deconstruct it. what it actually means is that a party shouldn't devise policy and have messages that appeal to minority groups. because minority groups aren't important. they don't count. if you're going to try to appeal to them at all, do it very quietly. so quietly that everyone else can pretend they don't exist and know that they don't matter. their concerns don't matter. their lived experiences and needs don't matter.

if they have needs, nobody should have to hear about them and no-one should be advocating for them. no policies should be implemented that benefit minority groups, because that is clearly "pandering".

more than that, the phrase is used every single time someone from a minority group is selected for a significant position. they can't possibly be selected for their talents and abilities. they can't have been chosen by a process that is genuinely able to look past minority characteristics at actual ability.

and what if it's true that a person has been selected specifically to appeal to a minority group? i really can't see what's wrong with that. minority groups deserved to be courted and appealed as much as majority group. why don't they? and why should the majority be offended by that? it's not a zero-sum game. it's not like addressing the needs of minority groups is going to lead to less for the majority. it is almost certain that policies benefitting minority groups will benefit the whole, particularly in the long term.

seriously, who is going to suffer if maori life expectancy begins to equal that of pakeha? who is going to miss out if women get paid the same as men? no-one at all. but any moves to iron out inequality is "pandering", even though that inequality is causing unneccessary and unfair distress to a significant number of people.

frankly, i'm sick of it. sick of the phrase and the ideas that underpin it.


Unknown said...

Those swinging voters in marginal seats are a minority too. And the business round table and wealthy party donors. I wouldn't mind the not pandering to minorities as much if politicians were more consistent about it.
It would still suck though, just more evenly. Better to actually listen to people.
I like your point that policy isn't necessarily a zero sum game, it is possible for someone to gain without someone else losing.

Hazel Parson said...

It all ties in, for me at least, with this idea that you shouldn't vote in your own interests or agitate in your own interests or engage in politics in your own self-interest if your interests are somehow (actually or presumed to be) opposed to those of whoever holds power, and that if you do act in your own self-interest you are being SELFISH and NOT THINKING OF OTHERS.

Because everyone knows that if the people who already hold power get to do what they want, everyone benefits! /sarcasm

As the first commenter said, it's a different story when the minority group happens to hold power in a particular context; in that situation, it's apparently totally fine to create policy that attracts them. And it sucks.