It may still only be November, but the Christmas adverts are already out, and with December one of the five Nouse-less months of the year, I’m getting my retrospective in early before anything else can go wrong.
2016 was the year that the wheels came off, ran over some sleeping dogs and hurtled headlong into the fan. First it was Brexit, then Labour imploded, and now Donald Trump has been made leader of the free world. After a year-round battering at the ballet box, we liberals are feeling a bit like a Christian scientist with appendicitis. We’re trying, we really are, but it’s just not getting any better.
It can all be a bit tough to get your head around. Trump voters like protectionism and don’t like multiculturalism, while Brexiters also like protectionism and hate globalisation. But some Brexiters like globalisation and just hate Europeanism, which in turn means that they must hate protectionism. So if Trump voters hate globalisation but like nationalism and Brexiters like nationalism but hate Europeanism…oh sod it.
Throw in the Mail, the Daily Express and Fox News, and it can seem that what’s really destroying the world is a cabal of tabloid headline writers and an ever-growing armada of unnecessarily large words. As Oscar Wilde once said: “democracy is the bludgeoning of the people, for the people, by the people”.
But perhaps we expect too much. 2016 has been a seismic shock for our generation, but has also revealed how frankly spoiled we’ve been until now. Our grandparents emerged from the burning wreckage of the World Wars, while our parents grew up in the shadow of the Berlin Wall, the Vietnam War and the threat of a nuclear holocaust. For us millennials this is the first and only time that our political climate has looked actively dangerous. It’s shocking, certainly, but hardly new.
How I long for the pre-2010 consensus of fashionable disillusionment: ‘the parties are all the same!’ we railed, ‘give us a choice!’, without realising that polarised democracy always leads to the tyranny of the majority, and that we might not be in it. Roll on the triumphant return of Gordon Brown, clad in beige armour atop a lumbering steed, promising to #makepoliticsboringagain. We never appreciated just what a privilege it was, that we could afford to ignore our leaders.
And so we beat on, boats against the current, limping towards the New Year with all the graceful optimism of a cat on its way to be neutered.
Here’s a copy of Nouse to take away some of the pain, hopefully filled with the kind of upstanding journalism that did not send this year swirling round the U-bend. Thanks 2016, you won’t be missed.