photos of Trump and Ardern collocated

Campaigns and conspiracies 

2020 was a year of marked contrasts, with one of the bigger ones evident in the 12-yearly convergence of the New Zealand and the United States elections.

The latter part of the year saw a barrage of news and commentary from across the political spectrum. Our Chapman Archive was recording overtime, two elections replete with contextual commonalities and contrasts.

The threat of Covid-19 led to widespread early and postal voting with record-breaking voter turnouts in both countries. Whilst Kiwis embraced early voting, in the US it was widely denigrated and deemed corrupt by the Republican Party.

Local media coverage highlights how America’s right-wing fringe managed to infiltrate New Zealand’s political sphere, with Billy Te Kahika’s New Zealand Public Party forming a rebel alliance with Jami-Lee Ross’s Advance NZ. Throughout the campaigning the New Zealand Public Party peddled conspiracy theories, defying Covid-19 lockdowns and saturating social media with divisive far-right rhetoric. Despite their apparent online popularity, New Zealand voters overwhelmingly rejected Advance NZ at the polling booths, indicating a level of public trust in both the government and the media, which has not existed in the United States for some time. The successful containment of Covid-19 in Aotearoa returned Labour to power with its largest ever majority, while President Trump refused to concede his loss to President-elect Joseph Biden.

We continue to see these deep fractures in the United States political landscape play out. Buoyed by comments from President Trump who refuses to accept the validity of the election results, pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed and occupied the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. (the house of the United States Congress) a frightening attack on what many US citizens see as the heart of their nation’s democracy. This happened mere days before Trump acknowledged the imminent change of government, if not entirely conceding the election to Joseph Biden.

The world waits with bated breath to see if the transfer of power will go smoothly or whether tensions will flare up again.

What is the Chapman Archive?

With its beginnings in Professor Bob Chapman’s lounge, the Chapman Archive has been keeping a record of New Zealand’s broadcast news and politics coverage since the early 1960s. Over the intervening decades, we have added video to the initially audio-only recordings and expanded our coverage to include several international news sources from diverse countries.

Access the Chapman Archive.

Noteworthy media from the archive:

NZ Election
U.S. Election

Alitia Lynch and Jacob Powell, Cultural Collections

Image Credit: composite of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Wikimedia Creative Commons