In the year of the Trump triumph and the Brexit vote, of the rejection of the peace referendum in Colombia and the Philippines spurning its traditional ally, the US, to cosy up to its traditional foe, China, the Oxford word of the year is—deservedly—“post-truth”. Nothing captures as succinctly the zeitgeist that this year will be associated with in the pages of history as the word defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Thus, despite his vile racist and misogynistic proclamations, the American electoral college chose Donald Trump for president. This was met with approval, if not outright endorsement, from Russian president Vladimir Putin, who most would agree is no friend of the US. It has also energised a moribund Da-esh (ISIS). Coming to Brexit, the Brits overwhelmingly voted to leave the European Union, against their own economic and cultural interests—despite advice from, ironically, the then Conservative prime minister David Cameron. Cameron making the referendum mainstream to minimise electoral threat from a rival political party boomeranged on him. Experts have linked both the Brexit vote and the vote for Trump to the masses getting “disillusioned” with globalisation. This is also the year the Philippines, under president Rodrigo Duterte, inched closer to China barely weeks after the latter turned belligerent after it lost the South China Sea case to the former in the International Court of Arbitration.
At a time when pragmatic and sound political leadership is needed, rank populists are being allowed to run away with local agendas that eventually shape the global one. Thus, it is no wonder that “post-truth” beat out contenders like “alt-right”, “Brexiteer” and “adulting” among others, to use a Trump coinage, “bigly”.