Gareth Morgan is founding his own political party, but before we get down to making fun of it, we really should give him credit for putting his money where his mouth is.
A brave thing to do, given the size of the mouth.
Morgan is a successful businessman. However, he first began infringing the public consciousness as the father of Trade Me founder Sam Morgan.
But while he may have started out as a kind of celebrity dad, he has managed to cling to the spotlight by becoming the nation’s most notorious know-it-all.
According to tradition, an oracle stated the philosopher Socrates was the wisest man on Earth. Socrates had a hard time believing this, because he did not consider himself to be wise.
When he then tried and failed to find someone wiser, however, was forced to conclude: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
One imagines that the profundity of this paradox would be lost of Gareth Morgan. If his public pronouncements are anything to go by, he would be more likely to say: “I am the wisest man alive, because I am the cleverest.”
Where Socrates was a gadfly because he asked questions, Morgan is a gadfly because he has all the answers.
Some of the intractable issues that could apparently be solved if we just acknowledged Morgan’s superior sense of logic include race relations, native bird numbers, the welfare state, the healthcare system, climate change, global fish stocks, North Korea and the performance of New Zealand soccer.
It seems there are few problems that could not be solved by his doing a bit of thinking and then declaring some grand scheme as the obvious solution. All that is required is for the rest of us to surrender our own experience, philosophy and values so that we can bask in the irresistible glow of Morgan’s rationality.
It is apparent that Morgan intends to bring this heroic self-belief to his political endeavours. You see, the reason he’s decided to get his hands dirty is that the solutions to our problems are “easy”. It’s just that our current politicians don’t have the guts to “disturb” voters by implementing them.
While a bit harsh, I think it does resonate a but because Morgan does have the habit of pronouncing his policy prescription as the solution.
I actually reserve judgment on Morgan personally because a mutual friend has assures me that he is a good and decent man. There is also no doubt that he had forged a successful career in business quite apart from his son’s achievements.
Morgan has a very successful business career and I think it is great he cares enough about New Zealand that he will fund and offer policy solutions. I even agree with some of them, and disagree of course with others.
But I still have trouble with his trip to North Korea where his praise of their farming and “magnificent” economic achievements came across as naive as best.
What he is likely to discover is that there is a world of difference between being a critic and being what Theodore Roosevelt called “The Man in the Arena”.
I might slag off Beauden Barrett’s goal kicking the morning after a test, but that doesn’t mean I could foot it in the black jersey. The same thing goes for the difference between politics and punditry.
Morgan may need to learn this the hard way. In some of his first public comments after announcing his new party, Morgan actually volunteered a statement likening himself to Donald Trump.
Then, obviously thinking better of the comparison, he said that he was nothing like Donald Trump. Then he reversed himself again by saying that maybe he was a bit like Donald Trump.
This was all in the course of the same interview.
“Gareth Morgan launches new political party: Compares himself to Trump” announced the New Zealand Herald. “Philanthropist Gareth Morgan launches political party, compares himself to Donald Trump” said Stuff. Is it gotcha journalism when the victim sets his own trap and then repeatedly walks into it?
I suspect the media will run to Gareth for an interview whenever they are bored and need a good headline.
And it’s not clear there’s a market for another party. Despite attempts to hitch domestic politics to the narrative of discontent that prevails overseas, the last public poll showed that just 29 per cent of respondents think this country is on the wrong track. In a comparable survey, 56 per cent of Britons, 58 per cent of Australians, 64 per cent of Americans, 71 per cent of Germans, 83 per cent of Italians and 88 per cent of Frenchmen answered the same way when asked about their own country.
That’s an astonishing statistic and one people should reflect on.