Looking back on it, it seems that 2016 was the year of the oversight.
Early in the year, talking on Trump, some commentators bandied about figures about him having 20% of 20-24%, suggesting that the apathetic American public who recently have struggled to get over the 50% turnout, were reasonably split between the Democrat/Republican poles. This came with an allowance for a couple of percentage points being allocated for the usual maverick billionaire with a bee-
in-his-barnet. Trump, it was believed held the maverick card at this stage – he certainly had the barnet – and everything seemed pretty much run-of-the-mill, for the American process. He’d run his race, and disappear into whatever oblivion vacuum that sucked up Ross Perot …
His ranting and raving had the more refined on Capitol Hill sniggering up their sleeves. The press and television media smacked their lips in glee, but the wind-bag was expected by everyone to blow himself out by mid-summer at the latest.
Traction comes from unexpected places.
Trump maintained his bile, and despite the obvious lying, fabricating, and some bewildering back-tracking, before seemingly blowing his other foot off, the act was somehow still gaining momentum. People didn’t know what to think across the world. A mass under-class protest making its gripe known was the general international prognosis. Poor white people were upset and wanted something done about their unhappy state.
What America was thinking was beyond us, looking in from outside, but America often baffles the world with its thinking. Progressive thinking coasts combined with a sixteenth century moralistic middle don’t make for easy analysis. Trump was obviously some kind of psychopathic loon-tune with an odd personal agenda, but somehow he was staying in there. Like a reality version of goggle-box, the world scratched its collective arse, its armpits, its head, and finally shrugged in bafflement. May arrived, and the primaries ended. Trump was endorsed by the Republican Party. The Democrats celebrated across the land, believing the Republicans had given up the ghost.
Not taking him seriously by June was the Democrats major oversight of the year.
June crept along and England gave all sensible thinking people a massive kick in the balls. An idiotic bunch of warm beer swilling xenophobes had hoodwinked the normally apathetic English and Welsh into voting to leave the European Union, by not deviating from a meaningless phrase of ‘getting control of their country back’, and depicting the country as being overrun with hordes of alien foreigners trying to occupy beds in their hospitals. A twenty year campaign from what were regarded as little-england bigots, and rural folk scared of anyone with a higher melanin count than their own milky arses, came home to roost.
Believed by the powers-that-be to have somewhat run its course, and that this was to be the final laying to bed of Farage and his bunch of odious cronies, many people in and out of power took their eyes off the ball. An oversight by the sensible, of insensible proportions. Corbyn disappeared from all reports, and won’t be forgiven by many people for his absence, and the BBC gonged its way into 6pm with Prime Ministerial commentaries countered by Farage, as though it was he who had become the Leader of HM’s Opposition.
Timing was Cameron’s oversight. Only a year in to his second term (if first real term) – an unpopular time for any leader, especially one who hadn’t managed a mandate for his first term – he and his Tory chums were confident that having seen off what had seemed a much more likely independent Scottish threat, the whole Brexit hoo-hah was merely a bag of wind for the silly season of summer and would be similarly put to bed.
His oversight cost Britain its imminently sensible and beneficial relationship with the EU, and lie piled upon lie paved the bigot-enabling-path, with the media flailing and flapping about, seemingly unable to take anyone to task in a post-Paxman world. Expecting the truth, and reasonable argument to win the day, Cameron and Osborne tried to keep to the status quo narrative (what else would a conservative do?) and their oversight in believing the fake-news pedlars, who ignored the statistics, the facts, and anything else reality might throw at them, and maintained the stream of drivel, their oversight in believing this would come to bite the liars on the arse, was perhaps the biggest cock-up of the year, and perhaps even, Tory history.
The celebrations of the fake-news brigade spread, and the possibilities for bigots everywhere just opened up. Liberal-minded and tolerant people suddenly found themselves in conversations they’d thought had been consigned to dust-bins twenty years ago. Seemingly, the thoughts were just in hiding, and the hate simmered along, and was even cultivated quietly through the private social networks, and caverns of hate as they have since come to be called.
Trumps inauguration came about when the Democrats also misread the narrative, and the disgruntled mood upon which it rode. Like the British, this wasn’t a mood of debate, reason, logic and understanding. This was a mood that didn’t like words much. People wanted change, and unless that was what they were going to be promised, that’s what they were going to have. The oversight was not just misunderstanding the mood, but also misunderstanding how deep and mean the mood was running.
The international community, especially when it comes to American affairs, keeps its nose to itself. It’s the way America likes it, and many were non-too-happy with the commentaries on Trump from various figures in the European capitals. Still, believing itself impervious to external influence, and the ability of other nations to manipulate media messages with its own mastery, the American institutions and public took their eyes of their traditional foes in the Kremlin.
This may be the oversight by a nation the rest of the world trusted to maintain vigil, that we all come to ultimately regret most. On America’s watch, will the free world give up the baton of leadership? Will it all be because of some oversights?