It’s election time in the USA so Canadians have launched into one of our nation’s favourite pastimes, acting as though our opinions mattered south of the 49th parallel. And the consensus in Canada seems clear; Trump must not win.
Too bad we’ve more than cashed in our credibility by spending decades crying political wolf.
To be clear from the start, I don’t have a horse in this race. I typically try not to get caught up in American elections and this one is no exception. I have never listened to either a Trump speech or a Clinton speech. Nor any speeches from the other candidates. I didn’t even watch the debate. I get the sense Trump leaves much to be desired but, to be perfectly frank, I get that sense from a lot of American politicians.
And many Canadian politicians as well. There’s something about politics that seems to force people to act, just, weird.
In short, you won’t find a Trump apologist here.
But you also won’t find a Trump hater either. In fact, my comments aren’t primarily about Trump, but about this instinctive Canadian revulsion toward all things Republican. Most Canadians mutter the word “Republican” with a contempt comparable to the word “Syphilis” or “Hemorrhoids.” Collectively, we seem to hate all things Republican and affirm all things Democrat.
[Alberta might be a bit of an exception in this regard. Forgive me for broad-brushing all Canadians; I’m speaking to the “consensus” view.]
Just think, who was the last Republican presidential candidate that Canadians, on the whole, liked? Trump is obviously widely hated. What about Romney? McCain? Bush? How far back would I have to go to find a Republican candidate that Canadians liked? Perhaps Reagan? Doubtful.
Not only do we hate all things Republican, usually Canadians’ hatred takes the form of “the sky is falling” alarmism. Not only do we disagree with them, we are sincerely fearful of the prospect of so-and-so having their finger on the nukes. We have more failed “end of the world” prophecies regarding Republican Presidents than the Jehovah’s Witnesses have about Jesus’ return. Outpacing the JW’s on failed prophecies is no small feat!
So here’s the situation. Canadians (who care about American politics) systematically denounce all things Republican, and then a guy like me hears that Canadians are denouncing the latest Republican presidential candidate and my reaction is nothing more than a shrug. So what. Big deal. I wouldn’t have expected anything else. The mere fact that he’s Republican means, ipso facto, Canadians will hate him.
That fact provides me with absolutely no useful information with which to form an opinion, because the fact of Canadian hatred toward Republicans is as predictable as the rising of the sun. So if Trump really is just that awful – if there is a political wolf among the sheep – then it’s one alarm too many for me to take the assessment of most Canadians seriously.
I might start taking Canadians seriously if they expressed grave concerns over something Democrat, or expressed broad support for something Republican. Or, more importantly, I might start taking them seriously if their assessment of Republicans and Democrats was, for the most part, balanced. If they started claiming that both parties have a mixed record of success and failure; virtue and vice. It is possible to support one party yet acknowledge its imperfections, and engage with the other party honorably. Some Canadians do that, but those are a rare breed.
And we really need to demonstrate some strains of credibility by actually focusing on issues instead of red herrings. Trump is a successful businessman (notwithstanding the latest tax revelations) which lends some weight to his bid to govern the American nation, but what often gets brought up is the fact that he had his own reality TV show. So what? As if that somehow speaks against his credibility. And Canadians have no right to criticize Americans if they elect a guy with a reality show when we elected a high school teacher. Seriously, look into Trudeau’s resume; what does he really have to offer in terms of work / life experience or relevant education? A Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature? His political resume consists of little more than awesome hair and his daddy’s name. Oh, and he’s young. I guess we got tired of looking at that other old guy.
And speaking of reality shows, Trudeau launched his own reality show once he was swept into power on a majority victory. It’s called the “Trudeau selfie show” and it runs daily. Sometimes several times a day. More Canadians have had their picture taken with Trudeau than have attended a hockey game. In fact, there is a support group for the only seven Canadians left who have not had their picture taken with him.
We meet every other Thursday evening, in case you are curious. I usually bring the donuts.
As much as we might mock Americans, I cannot fathom what kind of mockery we are the brunt of in other nations who look in on our own political circus. Which is worse, a selfie obsessed high school teacher, or a billionaire businessman with a reality show and an attitude? Canadians have little grounds to judge at this particular juncture of history.
What’s that saying about throwing stones and glass houses?
Despite his total lack of credentials, Trudeau might end up doing a fine job as Prime Minister. And if Trump gets elected he might end up doing a fine job as President. Let’s stop the knee-jerk hating of the “other guy” for a change. If you have a criticism let’s save those for policies and proposals, instead of personalities and parties. If nothing else, putting an end to the habitual hatred of the same party – every single time – for no coherent reason will at least give Canadians a start at rebuilding their political credibility.