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July 9, 2019 | by  | in Young Matt's Politics | [ssba]


It’s 2008, and your mum has sent you to bed early. “This isn’t for kids to watch,” you hear. On TV, there is a heavyweight battle between the reigning champ and someone newer to the picture. They are going up against each other in what can only be described as a no-disqualification match for the title. I cannot remember if this was between The Edge and Jeff Hardy, or Helen Clark and John Key. Was it MMP, or WWE?


The parallels between wrestling and politics run deep—even Abraham Lincoln was a known champion wrestler. In New Zealand’s own Impact Pro Wrestling, there’s a tag team called the ‘Young Nats’ which is a satirical take on the well-known youth wing of the National Party. 


The reason these crossovers exist is because, basically, politics is wrestling: There is a title holder, it is reasonably theatrical, and a large portion of people believe it’s flat-out fake. “Don’t trust a politician” and “You know that wrestling’s fake” are uttered in the same tone, likely by the exact same person at the pub. Those in parliament and those running the WWE are presenting and implementing change either because it’s what they think the people want or what the people need. 


There’s the title holder and the number one contender. In the current layout, you’ve got the champion as Jacinda “The People’s Champ” Ardern up against Simon “Big Show” Bridges. Simon’s doing everything to try to hinder Jacinda’s title reign. When his title match—the 2020 general elections—arrive, he’ll be able to do a metaphorical suplex off the top rope, get the victory, and become “Your new Prime Minister of New Zealand”. Like the WWE, however, things do not always favour the number one contender. Vince McMahon—or in Simon’s case, The National Party—may decide there will be a new person going for the title. 


When it comes to long-winded, rehearsed speeches calling out an opponent and challenging them—whether it’s to reduce emissions, or during a fight at Wrestlemania—the outcomes seem predetermined. Politicians “discuss” a lot of bills and ideas, with a hefty portion of the time spent on what was a fixed outcome. The theatrics are the same: people putting on a show for the minority who actually watch it. 


So if it’s all fake and hot air, why the hell should you care? The reason you should is because in both of these arenas, when the fans or voters react, it sends a message to those higher up on the direction they should go in. You can’t have shows to empty arenas. If someone’s performing badly in the ring, people will chant, “You suck!” This forces them to change what they’re doing, take a different approach. And if people don’t know they’re doing poorly, then how will they know they need to change? Change happens when people react strongly. When fans are not enjoying what’s going on, they’ll chant, start petitions, and demand change. They’ll make sure its known far and wide. Sounds eerily similar to protesting, which is known to make change, right? In New Zealand, it’s one of our favourite pastimes to get angry and vocal about something that we don’t like. Nuclear-free, Women’s suffrage, and even plastic bags in supermarkets. The people’s choice overrode that of those orchestrating the outcomes. When the people in power are not doing what’s wanted, vocal opponents and campaigners have the opportunity to try and create change. 


In politics as wrestling, if you feel strongly enough, the idea of “You suck!” can be adapted into making change. The people are the power! People may seem voiceless, but if there is enough of a fuss, change happens and those pre-planned outcomes are forced to change! Voices ^do get heard. Be vocal, be heard—things can actually change! 


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