Archive for the ‘American politics’ Category

Charlottesville – likely just the beginning

Monday, August 21st, 2017

In the space of a decade or so, public debates over differences in policy in US politics have been replaced by mud-slinging over differences in colour, religion and heritage.

Obamacare was the last time when an actual policy was the centre of public debate. It hasn’t disappeared entirely but it being overrun but societal schisms that are orders of magnitude more visceral, if that was possible. It’s not Democrat v Republican but white v non-white. Christian v non-Christian and north v south.  And the differences are deep, emotional and seemingly irresolvable.

Trump’s random Tweets (and I do think they’re random with little forethought put into them) feed into the hate on both sides, but they especially validate the views of those who are white, Christian, anti-trade and anti-immigrant racists and bigots. These groups feel they have little to fear as they wave their Confederate flags, torches and guns.

As long as Trump is in power, debates will not return to legitimate matters of national policy and will remain at the level of raw emotion. Even if he resigned today, it may well be that it’s too late to shut the barn door.

‪I fear for my American neighbours. I really do.

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Whether the USA survives as one nation and not two or several…

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

…is anyone’s guess. I ain’t no psychic.

So. Something I’ve been saying since Obama was elected and the right-wing vitriol fallout is that this was the beginning of the end of the United States of America.  I hoped I was wrong but am increasingly thinking that I’m dead on.

A black man occupying the highest office in the land was abhorrent, the supreme affront to the views of a significant portion of Americans. Birthers. Conspiracy theorists of all types jumped on the anti-Obama, anti-black, anti-liberal (although 99% of this cohort haven’t a clue what being a liberal means) bandwagon. It unified them. Common cause.

Then Trump came along. A cartoon character reality show personality whose business acumen was questionable, his personality was grating to most sensible folks, but, paradoxically, he struck a chord with about a third of the American voting population. Keep in mind that much of the one-third was already predisposed to the kind of anti-establishment verbal diarrhea spewed by Trump. They dug him. Somehow beyond belief, the super-rich cartoon character was a hero.

He shot from the hip.

He didn’t fit the mold.

He wanted to drain a contrived swamp.

The one-third felt separated. Trump hated the same people that the one-third hated. Hate is emotional, raw, it makes people say and do things that they wouldn’t consider normally. Blacks, Mexicans, gays, lesbians, Muslims, liberals… hell, probably Pokémon and leprechauns! The list is pretty long. Hate ’em all!

And they liked that and came out in droves to vote for the guy.

He won.

And that one-third? They were emboldened! Holy shit, one of their own (remembering the whole rich guy paradox) was in power and he was repping him.

Now, the PRESIDENT Trump gets this and realizes (more likely one of his kids realizes) that he has to keep that one-third of slathering mouth breathers very happy. Because his scope of accessible voters isn’t going to grow much. He cannot alienate his base. At. All. Or he’ll have zero chance of re-election. Nada.

So he doesn’t condemn the Charlottesville assholes. No way! They’re the base, yo. They’re his biggest fans! Those racists, fascists, homophobes, bigots and all-round assholes rightfully see ol’ Donny as their best bet at a place at the table of power since 1864-ish.

And these racists, fascists, homophobes, bigots and all-round assholes are armed, dangerous and of generally sub-average intelligence. This is a problem and this is a real and present threat to the future of what was arguably once the greatest democracy on the planet.

The racists, fascists, homophobes, bigots and all-round assholes have never left town since the last Civil War. The good ol’ boys have been chatting in the diners and on the front porches just like their great grand-daddies did. And sadly, I think they’ll be the catalyst for the next internal conflict.

When? I give it ten years. At most.

Bonne chance, America. But I think you’re screwed.

Here in Canada, we’re sure not angels and not immune. We have our own issues. Extremist media pretenders like Levant’s Rebel Fascist outlet preach hate every bit as much as the David Dukes of the world. We have to be vigilant.

As a sidebar, driving into work this morning after I had written the above last night, I got to thinking about a conversation I had with my son a few years ago. I’m very vocal about my political likes and dislikes at home, as is my wife. Our kids are very much politically-attuned for their age.

My son would have been about 7 at the time and he asked me what I would do if I met the then-PM Stephen Harper. Much to his amazement, I said something to the effect that I would shake his hand and say “it is very nice to meet you, Mr. Harper.” My son then was confused. He knew what I thought of Harper and needed an explanation. I told him: “as much as I dislike his policies, his personality and pretty much everything about his party, he is a democratically-elected leader and we have to respect that”.

So back to the commute this morning and I replayed that conversation but substituted Trump for Harper.

And, you know what, I don’t think I could react in the same manner upon meeting the current POTUS. Harper truly believed that what he did was best for his country because, despite everything else, he was and is a proud Canadian who put his country first. Can anyone say the same for Trump?

No. He is in this for himself and could give a rat’s ass about his country. Therein lies the difference and why I would decline to shake the man’s hand.

 

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Show up. Dive in. Persevere.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Last night, President Obama eloquently expressed one of the wonderful things about being in a democracy (or at least as close to a democracy as we will achieve).

We are free to engage.

We are free to participate.

Yes, by all means, if something rankles you or angers you, or you think that you can do better – do something about it! Engage!

Volunteer!!!!!

I whistle that tune to anyone who will listen to me. Ask my kids.

So of all of the words that the President said last night, these words about civic engagement and the responsibilities of citizenship – well they rang the clearest for me. Thank-you, Mr. President.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire.

President Barack Obama, Chicago, January 10, 2016

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Here there be dragons…

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

… are words that you can find on old sailor navigation maps that are meant to say: “Hey fools! Stay away from here! Like, don’t even THINK about it!”.

The American people would serve themselves well to heed these warnings. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC outlines a solid case that the escalating violence around the Trump supporters has been deliberate and planned. If true, our southern neighbours are headed full-steam toward those dragons… and they may not find it that easy to escape them.

Those are pretty dangerous beasts, those dragons. They have a nasty bite.

Be careful, my American friends…

Dragon

 

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That point when you know that something has gone too far…

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

You know, extreme fashion like bell bottoms and clothes made from meat, a practical joke that pushed the limits of good taste, Boy George…

That kind of too far.

Sooooo, America?

You have now and officially gone too far.

Stop the stupidity.

Now, please.

trump

 

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John McCain…

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

… and Republicans like him?

They are unquestionable, prime, grade A assholes.

Yup. These morons are even more partisan than the Harperites.

Democracy sucks, eh Tea Brains?

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I should feel sorry for them, right?

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Naaawwwww!

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What was really an earthquake not far from Ottawa…

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

… Was first mistaken by me to be the thundering feet of millions of Americans heading to Ottawa en masse in the event of a Romney win tonight. I suspected the border guards were overridden!

But no, it was just an earthquake.

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My prediction…

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

For what it’s worth…

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My nightmare scenario for Wednesday morning…

Monday, November 5th, 2012

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