After a year of political surprises, is it time to pause and listen?

Dalai Lama encouraging listening rather than only talking

The USA has a new president elect – Donald Trump. In the political arena, this is one of a number of outcomes across the world this year, many of which came as surprises:

  • The UK voted to exist from the European Union
  • There is an increasing push throughout Europe, from Hungary, Italy to Finland, to become more protectionist
  • Australia, retaining (on a very slim minority) the Coalition party as (Liberal / National party) in its mid year election, with the re-election of Pauline Hansen and her One Nation party, with three other senators in Federal parliament.

There seems to be a growing divide, politically. Not necessarily with traditional parties, who in many cases are becoming more and more similar to each other. But through splinter groups (which, in many ways, includes Donald Trump, who received very reluctant endorsement from the Republican Party).

The far right movements in countries like France, Denmark and Spain, with its People’s Party prime minister, are growing. At the same time, movements and parties that are traditionally seen as ‘left wing’ – reforming for social equality and egalitarianism, environmental improvements and the like, are still prevalent and in a number of cases, strong (including establishment parties, such as Canada’s government).

The shifts that are happening may seem bizarre to many of us. Many of the election outcomes this year have not been predicted by the journalists and reporters we would normally turn to. The polling has proven to be unreliable.

And yet so many of us turn, again and again, for answers from these same sources. More opinion pieces were churned out yesterday and already today, explaining (with hindsight) what they had not predicted. As they did after the election in Australia in July, and after they did with Brexit, and as they do so frequently.

  • But do we fall into a trap of hearing what we want to hear – seeking validation of our own views rather than looking to learn?
  • Do we look to the sources we’ve been comfortable referring to, even if they’ve been wrong already, out of habit or out of comfort?
  • If we do take the time to list to other views, do we still translate what we hear so it fits with our existing understanding? To accommodate what we believe is their failure to fully understand the issues – but in doing so, make the same mistake ourselves?
  • Have we been fooling ourselves into thinking we know the full picture – that we are ‘to to date’ with all the information that is flowing our way, without realising a lot of what we read is curated to appeal to us (especially if it is via social media)?
  • Do we need to be more open to alternative views, even if, at first blink, they are extremely distasteful?


Don’t get me wrong. I am appalled by most of the rhetoric that I hear Pauline Hansen and her party members speak (not to mention, Liberal party ministers such as Peter Dutton and George Brandis, and parliamentarians such as Cory Bernandi). I am horrified at much of what Donald Trump has committed to – and I strongly doubt it will address many of the concerns of those who voted for him.

I also think that immigration and racism are not the core issues – although they are the ones that receive the most focus. They are pointed to as problems which are seemingly tangible, and they seem to be issues that the government has control over, but I think they are straw men. I think they hide the real concerns of many to do with a lack of confidence into the future, lack of security and other issues. I may be wrong – I may be projecting my own values into this – but I feel the hate that is targeted towards people who fall into the categories of asylum seekers, for instance, is misdirected (in addition to being extremely cruel).


By jumping to explanations on behalf of others (as I was starting to do above), by failing to try to understand what is really at the core of the concerns of those who support them, by not taking these issues seriously (by possibly acknowledging them, but then not acting on them), we do not treat a large part of our community with respect. Nor are we likely to see their issues go away.

I think, if it hasn’t been for a while, it is definitely time to start listening.


And, IF you do feel you need something to read (or if I do – because I always like a source), here’s an article from the Australian Financial Review (not my normal source, but these are not normal times). Read here



For the next week or so, I’ll be largely spending my time reading and thinking and listening. And resting . And trying to resist the urge to explain, to sort out, to make ‘right’ in my own mind. Because now isn’t the time for rushed reactions. So – time for a blog break (especially as we’ll be on holidays – yay!)

I would, however, love to know any of your thoughts. Please share in the comments section.


3 thoughts on “After a year of political surprises, is it time to pause and listen?

  1. I was shocked by Trump’s victory, and I fear for the future. That fear has frozen my brain somewhat, and I feel like I need to take cover, so I am not engaging with any of it – it’s a form of self-preservation. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in America at the moment. We live in a Utopia, by comparison.


  2. GAWD YES. I’m too raw to write about this myself, being an American expat. We might not like what we hear if we ‘listen’ to what the American people are saying but it sure is important in order to fight it. ❤


    1. I can imagine! I saw a Medium article which seemed, as an outsider, to pinpoint the issue (I’m not sure I agree with the political correctness but otherwise there’s a lot to think about). And maybe, rather than fighting it, there’s an opportunity to work together (idealistic?)

      ‘Trump is right about some big things. He’s right that many Americans are getting screwed by the system. He’s right that the economy is not growing nearly fast enough. He’s right that we’re drowning in political correctness, and that broken campaign finance laws have bred a class of ineffective career politicians. He may even be right that free trade is not the best policy. Trump supporters are not dumb. But Trump is wrong about the more important part: how to fix these problems. Many of his proposals, such as they are, are so wrong they’re difficult to even respond to.’

      Liked by 1 person

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