So, the first of 2019, ‘pity it has t’be this one tho’ – a Frill-Bit I never saw myself crafting ….. SPOILER ALERT!   ….. It contains the expression ‘Populism.’

In hindsight, which I suppose is the best sight, but now with the benefit of it, that first Frill Bit of 2018 comes across as so determined, personal and clear of conscience that reading it is kinda mortifying – like WTF was I thinking;  2018 the Year for Brave Hearts. 

Considering where I am now, could I have been anymore ingratiatingly grandstanding and assuming?

I suppose you could say Repealing the 8th Amendment had a breakthrough momentousness about it, and as I type this there are girls inquiring about seeking a termination in their own towns and parishes; did you think that would be the reality this time last year?

But it wasn’t brave; it was due, it was right, and it was above all else, about time.

The outcome of that count was, amongst other things, a demonstration that Citizens make a difference, the Irish electorate weren’t bought with prayers or by life-size posters, nor were they swayed by bad actors or buckets of blood.  They knew what choice meant and they knew their vote counted.

I never thought of that day as being the end of an expedition, or thought of myself as some sort of self-righteous pilgrim; like I wasn’t singing or crying or hugging or an’ting.  Although I knew for sure that the road had definitively levelled a bit more favourably towards women, and equality was becoming a matter of fact and less an ideal, or something you had to access by way of the Courts, or mobilise a few marches for.

I remember someone asking me “what’s next” and in the days after I came out with this; Everyday People.

Looking back on the year that was, 2018, well most ov’it anyway, was full of great days, new ideas, friends, voices and record-breaking weather, yet it came to a close in a damp mouldy bog of failure, intolerance and cowardice.  2018 got Hijacked.

Hijacked by lazy insipid Politicians who didn’t like the mirror back at them, so they settled into the comfort a prefaced title grants them; Councillor, Senator, Deputy, Minister, President…. At all levels, we The Everyday People, were failed. 

Democratically elected Politicians that showboated on nothing more than thin air still got what they wanted just by abstaining from representing anyone other than their Party whips, or their own self-importance.   After delivering a significant mandate, that was both loud and proud in May, by October our Democracy allowed itself to be hijacked by those who only listen to the sound of their own voice as they sought out a greasy route for themselves.

Throughout all its 12 months, 2018 showed signs of Populism – since that’s what we’re calling it now; from returning dragons looking to make an imprint to yellow vests, loudhailers and balaclavas looking for somewhere to be seen.

Populism is supposed to be the umbrella over what generally appeals to the grassroots of society; the majority, The Everyday peopleFor instance, Populism is what established Dirty Den and Ange as the historic telly event its generally recognised as.   

In fact, whether you like it or not, the popularity of 2018’s Baby Shark is a result of populism.

No matter what its genre or premise is, if its capable of catching on, its populist.

However this old-style Populism has been hijacked, originally by those seeking to explain President Trump’s success.  However, we ourselves, who should know better having had a ringside seat to Brexiteers and their Lobbies, have been too quick with it to term and style the widening columns of far-right Nationalism and the growing brigades of White Supremacists. 

I’m not pretending Ireland was immune from imported prefabricated prejudice, we were always easily led by inflamed brimstoned rhetoric based on fantasy. Nonetheless, ignorant bigoted racism is now handily pre-packaged as Populist which only makes it easier to spread without the small print being visible.

We were always Prone to giving shameless vulgar mouth pieces too much access on our airwaves and too much reverence in our communities.  Today though, and 2018 is proof of this change; clumsy self-promoters when denied all of that unobstructed access just sue, or merely threaten it, and then progress themselves thru other platforms ie. social media; wherein they find their compost heaps.

However, this conveniently redrawn Populism has nothing to do with what appeals to the many, it is about coercing the easily influenced; those that have found themselves along the side-lines of life, those for whom Facebook is their community grounds.  Those that are not considered as relevant by a Dublin centric Government and its Leader; those that are ripe for persuasion. 

Leo Varadkar along with his collectives, colleagues, enablers and fellow decision makers are what I call the safe sets.  They will always be middle class and will always be home owners.  They will always have access to education, healthcare and opportunity; which allows our Government and Media look down their noses at any one voice that is not of their own, and gloat even harder when it goes badly wrong. 

I refuse to refer to this sect of fellow Citizens as the elite; I actually hate the use of that expression, even more so now that it has been weaponised by other fellow Citizens as the root of their own negative, and in many cases, misguided activism. 

We have seen it all over Ireland this Autumn Winter of 2018.  Splinter leaders with self-anointing charisma, sloganeering fighting talk, but nothing by way of credentials, talent or substance, or even genuine popularity; just like Trump.  They have stoked up bands of believers into thinking they have a special insight into the truth.  But the truth of what? Or more importantly, whose truth? 

So far, all I’m able establish is that its only what they want to hear kinda truths.

What were once harmless, even charming in their own way, old fashioned conspiracy theorists, have ended up dragooned into this virulent mob, a mob who were already predisposed for extremist and intolerant suggestion; shouting mantras of rants they simply cannot stand over or even defend as their own. As long as it’s catchy they’ll hum it, like an ear worm. That’s what we’re now to call Populism.

Our sense of Justice, Respect for Democracy and Equality, all of that we saw in May during the Repeal Referendum, has been Hijacked. 

Drip feeding carefully formulated questions is not exposing any truth, its merely a cheap device to propagate distrust.  It is false flag campaigning deliberately deployed to drill lines of division between Citizens, friends and colleagues, and for only one purpose; so that xenophobic propaganda can grow a base and subsequently followers for another outsider.

If you want the truth, then let’s start by getting it right.  Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Choice, Anti-Government, Anti-Vax, Anti-What-Ever yer having yerselves – give over; it’s nothing short of Black PR from individuals seeking fealty from those that will never be party to the cosy cartels of the main stream safe sets anyway, and usually by those who have been shunned by those same safe sets; yet, would be back amongst them in a heartbeat.

I don’t care how many troll accounts they have at their disposal, or how festeringly fertile their spawning grounds are or how loud they shout. 

I’m going nowhere 2019. Come and get me.