politics

2016 in politics: you're drunk and you need to go home now.

It’s been six weeks since Donald Trump was elected to be the next President and I still wake up many mornings and think: Donald Trump is the President. WTF.

Most days I swing between plucky optimism (“Maybe it will be OK”) and dark despair (“But… DONALD TRUMP”).

But here we are.

This year in politics has been nothing if not bracing. From Brexit to the return of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation to the Orange Menace… 2016 is drunk and needs to go home now.

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Seriously. Image: Supplied

Apparently in 2016 we also had our own election, but perhaps because the campaign went for 100 years or because it was a contest between two centrist, middle aged, socially progressive, imminently reasonable grey-haired men in blue ties, nobody paid much attention.

We were all too gripped by the most unorthodox, dramatic, astonishing election campaign the world has ever seen.

The prospect of the first female president of the United States was dangled temptingly in front of us for almost two years before it was cruelly snatched away by a reality TV star who hasn’t paid taxes in 18 years, brags about grabbing women by the pussy, and calls all the women whose vaginas he doesn't want to grab "dogs", "pigs", "fat" and "disgusting".

You couldn’t make this up.

Listen: In a bonus episode of Mamamia Out Loud, we talk about the year that politics went psycho. (Post continues after audio.)

And yet this is our new reality as 2016 lurches to a dramatic close.

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At the end of the year when the alt-right, the far right and the extreme right came roaring out of the fringe and into the mainstream and when we all learned we live in bubbles of our own making, thanks in large part to Facebook, the ultimate political echo chamber.

So what to make of all this? I have absolutely no idea. Like almost everyone who describe themselves as ‘liberal’ or left-leaning, I’ve spent the weeks since Hilary’s crushing defeat (crushing for those who supported her, not crushing in numbers – she won the popular vote by more than two million over Trump) wondering what the hell is going on.

I’ve come to a few conclusions, none of them conclusive. But here they are:

I think the left has been too censorious of anyone with opinions that don’t match theirs and I include myself on both sides of that observation; I've been both censored and censoring.

America you had one job.

A photo posted by Mia Freedman (@miafreedman) on


I think words like “racist” have been thrown around way too much, rendering them so over-used as to become unhelpfully diluted. People do not like being called names.

I think facts don’t matter anymore and that’s terrifying.

I think Donald Trump has done – and continues to do – a phenomenal job of gaslighting America, denying truths, contradicting himself and doubling down whenever he is challenged, something that’s very hard to combat; when someone repeatedly insists the sky is green and that you need glasses for claiming it’s blue, where do you go from that point?

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Hear Mia Freedman and Mamamia staffers debriefing about the US election on a special Mamamia Out Loud bonus episode. (Post continues...)

I think pretending people whose views we don’t like simply don’t exist and shouldn't be taken seriously is dangerous and self-defeating. We saw this just a few weeks ago with the Twitter pushback against the Good Weekend profile of conservative National MP George Christensen without even reading the excellent, balanced story. Some believed the magazine should not even ever written about him or acknowledged him. Surely this is nonsense?

I think our collective attention spans are getting shorter and politically, we want new, new, new. Eg: the fact we’ve had 3253 different Prime Ministers in Australia in the past few years alone.

I think there’s a massive rejection of ‘experts’ and expertise. People don’t want qualified, they want exciting and dramatic and someone who sounds like they do. That's why Hillary, with all her qualifications and decades of public service, just didn't cut it and a man who has never held public office and knows little about anything beyond his own self-interests is now the President.

Like a boss. One of my fave photos. I have it stuck on the wall in front of my desk at home. #imwithher

A photo posted by Mia Freedman (@miafreedman) on

Mostly though, I think I need a good lie down and a lot of strength to face politics in 2017. Bring it.

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