Since last week, the New Zealand Immigration Service website has been getting over 10,000 hits per day, and a stream of enquiries from Americans wanting to escape the Bush regime. It's interesting that this is happening at the same time as the resurfacing of the debate over whether New Zealand should become a republic.
What do these Americans wanting to flee expect from New Zealand? A country free from American influence? A free country? A liberal niche where redneck reactionaries or Christian fascists have no influence?
Ok, so the scale of the gun-toting, bible bashing, main-stream conservatism in New Zealand is ridiculously minute in comparison, but I definitely wouldn't underestimate the ability of a Brash to appeal to these elements of society and usher in a new era of 'lightweight' New Zealand politics, hand in hand with Johnny and George, reforging the ANZUS Alliance. And in that case, it might just be worse than being in America, being relegated to the status of a subordinate sergeant in the South Pacific, following orders blindly, policies in lockstep, but lacking the excitement, the openness and potentiality for influence and critique that comes from being the center of an empire. At any rate, the base social dynamics and struggles for mass public appeal are quite possibly the same, no matter whichever Western country you go.