Here is to a New Year, New Decade (and hopefully new politics)

As with every year, the beginning of each year is always characterised with a heightened sense of optimism. Whether that optimism is a product of peer pressure or genuine in its genesis matters not. There is optimism floating in the air, it is palpable and sometimes nauseating in its pretentiousness. Add the words “decade” or “millennium” to the equation and the euphoria is heightened like an orgasmic high. Everyone seems to fall into psychedelic state.

After the decade that we have had, I don’t blame anyone for falling into this intoxicating yearly psychedelic state of mind even if it is for a week. We all deserve a break from the insanity of the world and if our minds offer us refuge I say stay in that happy place for as long as you can. 

The decade that has come to an end especially the last few years have seen humanity divided in their politics more than ever. Extremism has been on the rise so has the decline of democracy across the world. The rise of strong man politicians has grabbed the world’s attention. On the other hand, politicians have used the legislative process to hold nations captive of the whims of the few monied who use their wealth to shape the world view. What has emerged is as ugly as ugly can be; a return to the days of totalitarianism.

The Trump Presidency has been symbolic of everything that was and is wrong with the current state of politics. Trump is a new comer to the club but his position of global influence has made his case more visible. The world of politics has moved away from the centrist compromise model of dealing with issues to the extremist right or leftist posturing. The “either or” politics have become the new norm. Politicians and their legion of fans no longer see each other as ideological competitors seeking a compromise in the construction of a better world. Rather they view each other as enemies. Remember the cold war when Capitalism was at war with Communism/Socialism? That’s where we are.

How did we get here? The question is rather complex but I would submit that the answer may lie in the rhetoric that is the source of the division. The basic human instinct for self-preservation is key too. In an economy of growing inequalities, conflict is not a question of if but when. And if you add to that the movement towards racial and gender equality, equity and parity the situation becomes more volatile. A few extremists who want nothing but to preserve the status quo will push back. In the same breath, extremists among those who have been in the fringes feeling the process of integration is moving too slow to their liking add to the Molotov cocktail of social chaos that is brewing. An explosion becomes imminent. All that is left is a spark to blow it up.

We can, however, reverse the fortunes. We can return to a state of ideological politics than adversarial politics that has seen the earth burn. It requires our collective action not only in condemnation of extremism but in building bridges. Bridges are built through civic education. We have it in ourselves to bring an end to the weaponization of fears and insecurities of persons in communities. We have it in ourselves to bring an end or to manage the weaponization of information through deliberate misinformation. 

As we move into the new year and new decade may we endeavour to build than to tear down our communities. We are more alike than we realise even in our differences. Let us lead with love. Let common sense prevail even when sometimes it seems common sense is not always so common.

Allow me to wish you the best for the year and decade ahead. May we continue to RANT together.

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