The Fading Star

In March 2019, after some fucked-up nutcase shot up a mosque in Christchurch, killing 51 and wounding 40, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern donned a hijab and went to comfort the community there. Within days, she announced a sweeping ban on military-style weapons.

Ardern became a media darling.

Abroad, she remains a shining star. During a trip to the US, she delivered the commencement address at Harvard, cracked jokes with Stephen Colbert and met in the Oval Office with another clown, namely Joe Biden. At each stop, she highlighted her successes in passing gun restrictions and managing the pandemic. Jacindamania in full swing!

At home, however, Ardern’s star is now fading. With inflation swelling like a pustule, rising prices for food, fuel and rent are making life increasingly hard for many Kiwis, and an explosion of gang violence has shocked a gentle population who never had to really worry much about their personal safety.

More fundamentally, there are deepening doubts that Ardern can deliver the “transformational” change she promised on systemic problems, as housing prices reach stratospheric levels, the country’s carbon emissions increase despite her government’s pledges, and child poverty rates stay stubbornly high.

In her first term, she won widespread praise. After the arrival of COVID-19, she took swift action to eliminate the virus through lockdowns and border controls, largely preserving normal life. Unfortunately a spike in July resulted in COVID-19 death rate at a record high.

The sense that Ardern could do the impossible has faded, as was her star.

Long before all of the above, Ardern became famous as the first woman to bring along a baby to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and was considered a heroine by bra-burning feminists, but according to recent whispers heard in dark hallways, she is now a bit of an embarrassment.

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