I see you wander off into the distance, a mournful piano interlude playing you out as you disappear over the horizon. I see you look back, a wistful look in your eye, fingers desperate to wave one final goodbye, yet every back is turned on you. There’s no last hurrah, no grand farewell for you here. The fireworks are all damp, fizzing impotently on the ground. There was supposed to be a fanfare but every member of the brass band is too busy retching lumps of blackened phlegm into the dirt.

You did your best, 2019. It’s just that your best was absolutely bloody awful, a toe-punt to the perineum when what we really wanted was a cuddle.

What a ride it’s been and if there’s one thing we ought to thank you for, it’s the clarity. Yours is the year that showed us our naked self-interest, reminding all of us in the supposedly civilised west just how easy it is to be swept up in the sweaty embrace of nationalism and corruption. We end the year with a partisan wrangle over a brazenly corrupt White House, a British government helmed by an international joke and an Australian PM who’d rather do shots out of a hula dancer’s belly-button than even pretend to give a fuck about the fact his country is literally on fire.

Authoritarianism is not just creeping its way in; it’s kicked down the front door and swaggered over the threshold, wreathed in memes, dick swinging like a Dachschund in a hammock. Our political norms and sense of fair play and decency have been utterly upended, with the keys to the kingdom now going to whoever’s willing to cosy up to the most fundamentally un-democratic tactics. Money continues to buy power and power continues to insulate evil from consequence.

It’s a pressure cooker, with the steam now venting out of cracks in the edifice from Hong Kong to Bolivia. It’s been a year of protests and political action even in the face of horrific oppression and the point-blank refusal to accept the ever-creeping excesses of the status quo is one of the faint glimmers of hope among a sea of turds.

As those who would tyrannise and oppress seek to silence dissent, whether it’s through climate policy, voter suppression, rescinding Kashmir’s autonomy or just the old-fashioned barbarism of internment camps in which children die in squalor, there are always those willing to stand up against them. Turns out they’re generally fucking useless at winning elections but hey, at least they’re trying.

You even gave a us a perfect example of just how pathetically our beloved plutocracy is failing us, 2019. After the Notre Dame fire the billionaires rushed forwards with their promises of support, only to fade away on the wind when it came time to actually collect. Turns out all that trickle-down rubbish is only useful when the dripping sound might be noisy enough to generate some profitable PR.

And so you go into the night, 2019, no bursts of colour in the sky to light your way and no band to play you out. It’s been a grim year but we’ll remember you – not as the shining triumph who began to plot our course out of this mess, but as the failure who catalysed us into action. Action to restore our checks and balances, to curb the excesses of our system, to defend actual democracy rather than the sort of lip service that merely tightens the grips of the demagogues and autocrats.

It’s a lonely walk out of the door, 2019. Thankfully there’s probably a couple of politicians who’ll be there to keep you company.

I see you, 2019. I fucking see you.

I See You

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