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Op-Ed: Despot Departs – Freedom Can Ring in New Zealand with Jacinda Ardern Out

Joy to the anglophone world, Jacinda Ardern has resigned! New Zealand’s long totalitarian nightmare is coming to an end. With elections set for this fall, Kiwis have a chance at reclaiming freedom. Of the West’s most ruthless COVID despots, there was no premiership more detestable than Ardern’s. Ardern was essentially the anti-Ron DeSantis. Whereas DeSantis withstood fierce attacks over his bold and ultimately brilliant leadership during COVID, Ardern may have taken the cake as the most oppressive leader. Ardern’s time in office was defined by a slow creep toward totalitarianism that finally culminated in her COVID response. From her earliest days as prime minister, Ardern displayed a disturbing comfort with government overreach. Her response to terrorism was the first alarm bell. When an Islamic terrorist perpetrated a mass stabbing in the nation’s capital, Ardern did nothing to cease immigration from countries that are hotbeds of terror. However, when a native-born terrorist committed a mass shooting in Christchurch, Ardern’s government moved quickly to seize firearms from law-abiding citizens across the country in a mandatory gun buyback. Ardern could never explain why she was willing to forcibly disarm her own citizens before she was willing to stop issuing visas to foreigners under police surveillance for ties to terrorism. Ardern’s views on free speech were similarly disconcerting. Following a disturbing trend among some political leaders on the left, Ardern has sought to conflate free speech with violence. Standing before the United Nations, Ardern called “free speech” (i.e., speech she disagreed with) a “weapon of war.” In almost the same breath, Ardern ominously urged collective action against those who reject the prevailing narrative on global warming. “How do we combat climate change if people do not believe it exists?” Ardern asked, hinting that government censorship would be the proper tool for manufacturing consensus on the issue. When COVID began to spread, Ardern used it as an excuse to unnecessarily lock down her country for years. She ordered her countrymen’s movements to be strictly limited with COVID passports. Tracer apps were mandated to enter buildings and use public transport. Capacity limits for businesses were set artificially low, irrespective of what businesses required to make ends meet. Ardern’s government ordered large swaths of the population to take the vaccine without consideration for natural immunity, religious objections or consent. When a single new COVID case was detected in New Zealand, Ardern would lock the entire country down again without concern for the fact that none of her prior lockdowns had worked. Some may say that Ardern’s policies were madness — however, I would argue that they were natural extensions of her greater worldview. Ardern’s governing philosophy was rooted in her avowed agnosticism and her former leadership of a socialist youth party. All of Ardern’s worst decisions had a humanistic theme. Her policies assumed that man could control everything from nature to global pandemics to political disagreements to evil — if only man was given enough power over his fellow man. Her inherent belief that man is capable of flawlessly controlling the world around him was arrogant and brimming with the hubris that usually ends in tragedy. In short, Ardern’s philosophy left no room for God, and her policies trampled on the freedoms held sacrosanct in the Western tradition. On Oct. 14, when new elections are held, New Zealand can reverse this. No one smart will run on Ardern’s record. During her resignation speech, even Ardern struggled to point to a single major achievement. She mentioned a few forgettable improvements in a small set of welfare programs and then recounted that she presided over a terror attack, a pandemic and a few other challenging events without identifying anything substantial she did after those events. Ardern should be careful not to conflate presiding over something with doing something, or she risks sounding like Al Gore when he claimed that he invented the internet. Even sympathetic leaders in other parts of the Commonwealth seemed at a loss as to how to spin the end of the Ardern government. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Ardern’s premiership was defined by its “empathy and insight.” This ostensible compliment was so patently false that one must wonder if it was a thinly veiled insult. Moreover, if all that can be said about your leadership is that you were empathetic and insightful, then you might have succeeded in being a new-age television self-help guru, but you have not succeeded as a prime minister. Consequently, Labour is behind in the polls, and the New Zealand National Party, a conservative party, maintains a tremendous 6-point lead. The Labour Party will continue to struggle with its messaging in this election. It will be hard for Labour to argue that it represents the future when it is so closely associated with the failures of the present. Additionally, there has been a slow purging of the worst COVID totalitarians from politics. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York resigned in disgrace. Bill de Blasio of New York City staggered out of his mayoralty as a joke. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — after being hailed as a hero of freedom for delivering Brexit — utterly embarrassed himself by restricting the liberties of fellow Britons and permitting lavish parties for himself. With elections called and Ardern packing her bags, New Zealand has a unique chance to lock in the political demise of a despot. The country could be the next to send the message that the West will not tolerate totalitarianism. Kiwis must not waste this opportunity. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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