Sacrificing families for political gains

The section 59 debate, for the first time in a long time, lifted the lid on the New Zealand “family”. What we found was a fight waiting to happen: the core of the debate was not smacking, it was the nature and role of the family. How should we balance the competing interests of the family, its individual members, the community that surrounds it, and the state which we rely on to intervene when necessary and butt out the rest of the time?

How the 2008-2010 government would address that gulf fascinated me. It seems so intractable, yet addressing it is so necessary. National have chosen Christine Rankin, they have chosen to make the Families Commission incapable of progressing this.

It’s not Rankin’s support of the pro-smacking referendum, it’s not her links to the conservative Christian lobby, nor her links to the crime and punishment lobby, the anti-transparency brigade, or the right wing political donors. It’s her track record of divisiveness, or polarising issues and debates.

By choosing Rankin National may have discharged their debts or paid back their supporters, but in the process they’ve sacrificed progress, safety, and growth for our families.

[Ari and Julie have both written good pieces on Rankin’s unsuitability for the role separate from her divisiveness]

Author: Anita

A Wellington feminist wondering how to make politics something real people can do.

19 thoughts on “Sacrificing families for political gains”

  1. DeepRed,

    Maybe you’re right. Maybe that is the purpose of National, to reopen that war. It’s helped the the Liberals (Aussie) and the Republicans (US), perhaps they think it’s a winner for National.

    And if you wanted to do it Rankin would be a great part of the plan.

    Lew,

    Ta. I remain patchy tho, silly work, silly travel, silly study, silly life :)

  2. Personally I think the family unit is strengthened by conservative values and weakened by liberal values.

    I’m not really sure where Rankin stands on anything to do with families, yet. But her stance on S.59 warmed my heart and gives me hope for the future of the family unit. Given the way its been degraded over the last fifty years by liberal values, it really needs some strengthening.

  3. reid,

    Personally I think the family unit is strengthened by conservative values and weakened by liberal values.

    This presupposes that there is one `correct’ family unit, which is a major point of debate in the whole issue.

    L

  4. reid writes,

    Personally I think the family unit is strengthened by conservative values and weakened by liberal values.

    There is an argument that there is a tension between the supremacy/rights of the family unit and the supremacy/rights of the individual.

    So yes, conservative Christian values tend to strengthen emphasis on the family unit by weakening the emphasis on the individual. Conversely progressive liberal values tend to strengthen the emphasis on the individual by weakening the emphasis on the family unit.

    It’s a pretty deep divide and one we don’t discuss directly. I would like to have seen the Families Commission trying to bring out that discussion. I can only see Rankin deepening the divide and increasing the volume.

  5. I think you are doing yourself a dis-service in writing such rubbish Anita

  6. jcuknz,

    That could be a personal attack, or a statement that you think my post (or my subsequent comments?) are rubbish. I assume the latter.

    So, why do you think it’s rubbish?

  7. By choosing Rankin National may have discharged their debts or paid back their supporters, – but in the process they’ve sacrificed progress, safety, and growth for our families.

    It’s only the second part of this which is in anyway contentious (Rankin’s appointment is just a “nasty” symbolic act, once made its importance will fade). The rest is just “reporting” the political landscape.

  8. National have chosen Christine Rankin, they have chosen to make the Families Commission incapable of progressing this.
    I think that basing an argument on a persons prior perceived track record is a little like saying that a gang member with a track record of crime and a history of imprisonment is incapable of contributing positively in society. Which is rubbish, isn’t it.

  9. SPC,

    It’s only the second part of this which is in anyway contentious (Rankin’s appointment is just a “nasty” symbolic act, once made its importance will fade). The rest is just “reporting” the political landscape.

    I don’t think so. While I am inclined to agree with it, I think many of the government’s supporters would rankle at the suggestion that appointments are made for reasons other than strict merit, and would contest the claim strongly.

    L

  10. dave,

    I think that basing an argument on a persons prior perceived track record is a little like saying that a gang member with a track record of crime and a history of imprisonment is incapable of contributing positively in society. Which is rubbish, isn’t it.

    People aren’t judging Rankin on her `prior perceived track record’ – they’re judging her on her recent advocacy work in this area, which is clearly the basis for her appointment to the role. She has used her public history as a polarising and divisive figure to gain profile on these issues, and done so in a polarising and divisive way. It’s a value judgement based on the content of her actions and statements, not on her character (except inasmuch as those actions and statements reveal something of her character). I accept that if you think those qualities are necessary now, because the state of childrearing in NZ needs a swift kick up the bum, or whatever, then they might be seen as beneficial to the case. However I think a defining characteristic of Rankin’s detractors is that they generally don’t think that.

    Your analogy might be correct if it were a gang member with a history of imprisonment and who had publicly stated his intent to continue a life of wrongdoing, to retain the value judgement.

    (Welcome, by the way, I don’t think I’ve seen your comments here before but I do keep an eye on Big News. I’m miserable to have not had time to attend the Māori in Parliament conference, since that’s what I’m meant to be studying.)

    L

  11. National have chosen Christine Rankin, they have chosen to make the Families Commission incapable of progressing this.
    I think that basing an argument on a persons prior perceived track record is a little like saying that a gang member with a track record of crime and a history of imprisonment is incapable of contributing positively in society. Which is rubbish, isn’t it.

    Then again, some leopards don’t pretend to have changed their spots.

  12. IMHO the Families Commission has done stuff-all to date, what makes anyone think Rankin has the power to change this?

  13. Well that’s plausible:

    The decision looks like political folly – unless you subscribe to the slightly more credible theory that Rankin has been installed on the commission’s board to shake up a sleepy outpost of government and make it start producing the kind of policy ideas a National Government likes to hear.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10571951

    …though still not sure what on earth such policy ideas would look like. ‘Hug a family day’?

  14. Didn’t they appoint another chap at the same time and aren’t both him and Rankin just two of a number of people at the Families Commission ?

    I also think it’s a bit harsh to suggest that ..By choosing Rankin National may have discharged their debts or paid back their supporters, but in the process they’ve sacrificed progress, safety, and growth for our families……. how so ?

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