John Key’s extraordinary success as a political leader owes a great deal to how closely his own career conforms to the heroic monomyth.
The story begins with John, an ordinary Kiwi joker with a head for figures, setting out on a risky journey into the fantastic world of high finance, where all but the hardiest and most cunning traders are eaten alive. Having mastered the magical art of making money, and acquired a vast fortune, John returns home from his adventures determined to put his hard-won skills to good use among his own people.
It is difficult to imagine a “hero” better suited to the needs of twenty-first century New Zealand. John Key’s very ordinariness confirms his “Everyman” status, and amplifies the potency of his success. The power he wields is not his own, but a weapon forged from the capacities inherent in every Kiwi: those mysterious qualities that allow New Zealanders to “punch above their weight”; that national essence which sanctions John Key’s followers’ vicarious participation in his personal and political success. He is Us, and We are Him. It’s why, until an even more emblematic hero comes along, John Key will remain invincible.
For a while, it looked as though Labour had found just such an emblem. David Shearer’s story, like John Key’s, begins with an ordinary bloke setting forth on a journey, during which he encounters all manner of monsters – from Somali warlords to murderous Israeli settlers – learning in the process the magic spells for opening the human heart to compassion, justice and reconciliation. He, too, returns to his people and, at the crucial moment, steps forward from the shadows to declare that he is the one destined to lay low the National Party usurper.
Except he hadn’t learned the spells, or, if he had, he could no longer remember them.
Or ... no one wanted to be like him. Shearer hasn't bettered himself in the way that the ordinary man can understand, and therefore the ordinary man doesn't think Shearer can understand him and his struggles.
In fact, it's not even about heroes when it comes to Labour, it's about convincing the electorate that they are benign, that they don't want to rule every aspect of our lives, down to dictating what type of shower heads we can have or the type of light bulbs we are allowed to use. For that, for lulling every one into complacency and giving an alternative to vote for when people get too frustrated with National ( because no party keeps everyone happy all of the time), then Labour need to rely on the forgetfulness of the people in order to get back into government. Not sure how long that process with take. Maybe another couple of election cycles?
Related link: We DO Need Another Hero ~ Chris Trotter, Bowalley Road