27 Dec 2017

2017: Or was it all a bizarre dream

9:54 am on 27 December 2017
US President Donald Trump, a missile launch and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

US President Donald Trump, a missile launch and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: File

Opinion - In October of 2016, I mused whether the vortex of evil that had come upon us in 2016 (stream of celebrity deaths, nomination of Trump, Brexit) was going to continue in 2017 and by God, the universe did not disappoint.

I sit here in cold Texas looking back on this strange year in American and Kiwi politics wondering if I could have ever predicted this had I been writing a fictional novel about the future back in ... well, 2016.

In some ways this year has been a blur. I feel gaslit by my own memories.

Did the President of the United States really tweet a made up word (covfefe) and have his Press Secretary defend it from the White House podium as something that had a secret meaning and not a typo? Yes, he did. That really happened.

The US President has said and done so many unbelievable things in between playing golf that it's impossible to recap the year in any meaningful way.

I have a daily diary on Twitter where I have been summarising the Trump administration since Inauguration Day but even that is not complete.

Each day brings a new normal in America that I previously couldn't imagine, and yet I think to myself 'well, it can't get any worse'.

It absolutely can.

We are at a point where we have decided to hear Nazis out and not be fazed by one person shooting at 500 people. Our only solace seems to be viral memes and Taika Waititi humour which is only funny because it's so despairingly comforting.

Did a sea of women really protest a new elected President on the streets of DC? They really did.

Perhaps that was the start that gave women the push to finally stand up. Though not all women. Women of privilege seem to still be happy to maintain the status quo of domination.

For my birthday this year, I saw Wonder Woman because it happened to be out at the time. For a couple of hours I forgot the outside world and felt like I too could take on a 100 men in battle.

In some ways as a Kiwi woman, it felt like it was the Year of the Woman, with the election of Jacinda Ardern as NZ's Prime Minister and loud #MeToo voices finally coming out from the shadows.

But it has also been an exhausting year if you are a woman.

With looming threats of war with North Korea and America's insatiable desire to go to war with Iran, the uncertainty of 2017 has been relentless.

From the attempt to get out of the Paris climate deal, to the repeal of net neutrality regulations, to the tax bill currently in front of Congress, the US seems to be on a path to self-destruction purely out of spite.

Meanwhile in New Zealand, the new government seems to be attempting to reverse course from the last 9 years. But also we seem to have to reckon with the crypt keepers of the bygone era who can't handle te reo on the airwaves and women under the age of 45 having access to power.

Where to from here? The Alabama Senate elections in the US shows that there is a lot of uncertainty in US politics and Trump's brand is not universally transferable.

As we end this year by being forced to say Merry Christmas for the first time in modern history, one can only hope that this level of chaos is not sustainable and some form of normalcy will come upon us in 2018.