Post-truth. Fake news. Facists. Extremists. Nationalists. Brexiteers. All words to describe the year 2016. Many events that have happened this year seem to herald some tipping point, after which the world will plummet into some crisis or other, and like a tectonic plate that is under too much pressure, major shifts in the global periphery will occur. This year will go down in history but should we worry about the earthquake, or the after-effects?
This has broadly been the narrative of the media in the run-up to 2017, spurred on by the Brexit vote, the Italian referendum, the election of Donald Trump. Nevertheless, whilst the future is full of apprehension, we shouldn’t begin to look to the past through rose-tinted glasses.
With the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the US came many comparisons of the day with Obama’s inauguration and time in office, often shining a negative light on Trump and painting Obama as the good guy; the most popular posts on social media compared crowd sizes at their inaugurations, which Trump preceded to have a hissy fit over. The whole debacle prompted Press Secretary Sean Spicer to harangue the media for “deliberately false reporting.”
But those mainly on the left cannot fall into the trap of loving Obama, just because we don’t like Trump. During Obama’s presidency, the US national work force shrank by 10 per cent; 95 per cent of income gains went to the top 1 per cent of the earning population; 372 mass shootings were carried out in 2015 alone; and a quadrupled production of shale gas was linked to polluted groundwater in Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
Across the globe, 563 air strikes were carried out in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen killing up to 807 civilians and thousands of ‘terrorists’ (defined as all military-age males in a strike zone, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent); 11 million Syrian refugees fled their homes, not to mention Afghanis and Iraqis, prompting an ongoing crisis across the Middle East and Europe; Ebola was named the world’s deadliest disease to date; and a civil war masqueraded through Libya.
Obama could not have saved the world, however his witty charm and charismatic smile has been focussed on too much by a media concerned with creating a narrative of ‘everything was better before Trump’. By looking back at the past – when we remind ourselves of events such as the Arab Spring, ISIS, refugees, Ebola, the Zika virus, the financial crisis of 2008 – we must think twice before declaring ‘World War 3 is looming, and it’s got Trump’s face stamped on it’.