Golriz Ghahraman 'exhausted' at debate over Todd Muller's 'MAGA' hat

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman says she's "exhausted" at the debate over new National Party leader Todd Muller having a 'Make America Great Again' hat.

A profile on Muller published by The Spinoff in September last year included a photo of souvenirs he picked up while in the US in 2016 - including one of the red 'MAGA' hats from US President Donald Trump's campaign.

The photo was shared widely on social media on Friday night after he took the reins as National's leader, with many shocked a New Zealand political leader would not just own, but display, such a divisive object.

"I don't know what the intention was in Todd Muller buying a MAGA hat and what was behind the decision to display in his office," one person tweeted. "I do know what MAGA hats symbolise. Hate. Indifference. Rage. Fear. Hatred of women."

On Sunday night, Ghahraman wrote a Facebook post saying the "terrifying" substance behind MAGA shouldn't be ignored.

"I'm exhausted of the MAGA hat debate without the context of a man who voted as Trump would on every law affecting women and minorities, as recently as two months ago, when he voted for abortion to remain a crime here in Aotearoa.

"We can't ignore the substance behind MAGA and how terrifying it is if that shrill bullying ethos becomes casually mainstream in NZ politics."

In response to a person's comment about how the debate surrounding the hat could polarise opinions and divide Kiwis in the lead up to the General Election, Ghahraman says that is something she's worried about.

"I'm concerned about the polarisation of politics and communities too. I know we're a different, far more inclusive, compassionate nation but if the leader of the Opposition admires Trump's brand of politics, it is concerning."

Muller defended owning the hat during an interview on Newshub Nation on Saturday, saying he's just "a little bit of an American political junkie", which is why he has it.

"I got one of those, and I got a Hillary Clinton badge. I've got them both in my office. But for some reason, the Hillary Clinton badge never gets looked at. Everyone sees the MAGA cap and somehow reaches a conclusion that perhaps is where my sympathies lie."

Donald Trump wears one of his signature MAGA hats.
Donald Trump wears one of his signature MAGA hats. Photo credit: Getty Images

Asked on Magic Talk's Sunday Cafe show what he thought of Trump, Muller said he was making the US a more politically divided place. But he said Trump's rivals, the Democrats, are also to blame.

"Over the last 30 or 40 years it's become more and more partisan, and I think that doesn't work for the country as a whole. This is not an anti-Republican or anti-Democrat - I think both sides have built that partisanship to the level that it appears, from the outside, to be becoming quite destructive."

On Saturday when asked whether he backs Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden or Trump to win this November's election, he would only say that after seeing them both deliver speeches in 2016, Biden was the better orator.

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