Politics in November 2016

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The following are rambling thoughts, typed with exhaustion, as a result of travelling from St Kilda to Soho, New York over 26 hours while an election was happening in the US. It probably has too many pop-cultural references in it.

We were in the air when it happened. The plane landed at LAX and as it headed towards the gate, people started turning on their phones. The text messages spread through the cabin and the conversations started immediately.

It was only when I heard other people talking about it that I realised Lyndal wasn’t playing some kind of terrible practical joke. This was real and the most difficult thing to deal with, at the time, was how credible it actually was.

During the whole lead-up to the election, different news organisations kept pointing to the numbers. The polling showed how far behind Trump was. But the numbers were ridiculous because they were gathered under the rules of the way the game used to be played.

In the first season of the TV show Survivor the contestants began their time on the show trying to survive in a remote location without the luxuries of home. Most of them thought that was the game. People were voted out because they were weak.

The game changed very quickly once Richard Hatch started forming alliances, telling people what they wanted to hear and playing the game the way he saw it. The other players were blind-sided. Even when they knew the way Hatch handled players and situations, they couldn’t keep up or bring the power over to their side.

The game changed before our eyes and we acted too late and couldn’t bring ourselves to play this new game. In this new game governing well is a distant second to power. Power comes from telling people what they want to believe but good governing comes from doing what someone believes is best for everyone.

We saw this play out with Brexit. We’ve seen it in the Philippines. We’ve seen it in Australia.

But we also saw it in Russia.

And we saw it in Animal Farm.

The giant appeared and announced “It is happening again.” And we’re like Agent Cooper, sitting in that roadhouse, knowing that we’re powerless to stop something that has already started.

These are dark times. We might feel helpless. That’s what they want. They will bank on that. Maybe we should start talking about what’s important to us more than every three to five years.

But we probably won’t, because it’s easier to just let it keep happening again and again.

Just remember: it’s a lot easier to push over a pig when he’s walking on two legs.