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Republicanism and women's suffrage
Is New Zealand becoming a republic comparable to our giving women the right to vote? Some time back, Lewis and I discussed how this question related to a post I'd just written, If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Basically, NZ's democracy was functioning fine before suffrage was extended to women - nothing was actually broken - but NZ became the first self-governing country in world to set right this obvious shortcoming. Isn't NZ becoming a republic setting right an obvious shortcoming, too?
In discussing this argument with friends, I was once told (politely) that it was inappropriate to compare republicanism with as noble a cause as women's suffrage. Since the latter must have had a greater effect on everyday lives, I agree this comparison isn't entirely fair. However, it's not their relative importance that I think is key; it's that they both involve obvious shortcomings. If NZ does become a republic, imagine telling our children and grandchildren that, before it happened, our government was actually overseen by members of one particular family who lived all the way on the other side of the world. Surely, they'll look at us with disbelief!
Given how much resistance our country's suffragettes had to overcome to win the right to vote (just quickly, have a read of the relevant Wiki page), I wonder if they imagined a time when they would tell their daughters of the incredible battles they faced to achieve such an obvious change. I guess this serves to demonstrate that, even if it's an obvious change, we'll need a heap of the patience as we pursue our goal of helping NZ become a republic.