ACT: finally standing for something?

The ACT party has never really stood for anything. Even in its early days when Prebble and Douglas were setting the direction, in the public eye it was mostly a vehicle for yelling about tougher prison sentences, lower tax, and less positive discrimination. This inconsistent set of policies turned it into the Big Meanie Party and let the media reduce it to nothing more than a mini-National, but meaner.

It seems like that’s all changing. New leader David Seymour is not only a “true believer”, as labelled by the NBR, but also has plans to campaign on that. Our libertarian party campaigning on an actual libertarian platform?! What a refreshing change.

A print copy of the NBR drifted past me the other day, so I got to enjoy reading this most informative interview [$] with Seymour. He’s not slow to criticise the party’s direction up till now:

The fact we found 28,000 people [in 2011] who fitted into that little square on the Zen [sic] diagram of Maori-bashing, weed-smoking, supply-side adherents is extraordinary.

Without a proper philosophical basis, the party was doomed to irrelevance by its random combination of policies. With Seymour as leader the philosophical basis has arrived:

People think regulation is a way of imposing preferences on other people, when it should be a way for societies to deal with market failure.

Enforcing that in Parliament by opposing dumb regulation will be both a noble and daunting task. No more room for random brainfart policies here! Fighting to maintain what Eric Crampton calls New Zealand’s “Outside of the Asylum” status is plenty for a party with only one MP.

But Seymour has a plan to get more MPs next election: campaign to young libertarians, immigrants (“moving to an unfamiliar land for a better life is the most entrepreneurial thing”), and actual entrepreneurs (“somebody who runs an SME… may be interested in a party that speaks of sensible economics”).

All people who are already more or less invested in this country and want to see it continue on its current non-crazy, free-enough, supportive-enough trajectory. After all,

… one thing that’s been poorly expressed by ACT is we’re actually very happy with where New Zealand is.

Amen. To keep it that way, maybe David Seymour is the voice of reason we need.

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