I know what it's like to be a supporter/member of a political party that is being written off and facing oblivion. Indeed, in 1996 North & South magazine absurdly published an article headed "Is this the final ACT?". We got 7.2%. In 2005 Tracey Watkins (I think) wrote the ACT obituary in the Herald. In that year not only were we fighting Labour but National and Greens too. Of course we won Epsom and survived, and will retain it in 2008 with a larger majority and increased MP's I am sure. In between 1996 and now there have been other times where people thought ACT was finished. But we survived.
The main reasons for our continued participation in the parliamentary process are threefold I believe. We have excellent longstanding philosophies and principles. We have excellent, loyal, dedicated people (mostly volunteers). And we have, and have had, excellent politicians. ACT is a party based on a belief that governments are inherently destructive and not constructive: they should be out of our lives as much as possible. We believe people make better choices than politicians. We believe regulation might be a requirement, but is certainly not a necessity. Sure, we have some rogues and we have had to swallow some dead rats in the past but ACT people are bloodyminded and determined. ACT's beliefs and policies are the best for New Zealand, there is no doubt in my mind. And all ACT loyalists believe that and will work for that, even in the bad times.
Here's the dichotomy. New Zealand First and Winston Peters couldn't be more diametrically opposed to how ACT is. It has no principles, or at least Winston has just flushed them down the toilet. It's people use zimmerframes. And its politicians, even according to its ex MP's (Laws & Widerstrom) are useless.
ACT has survived because it has foundations. By comparison New Zealand First is a leaky home. It cannot survive what is happening I believe. The end is nigh.