Various commentators have reminded us, from time to time, that Canada's relationship with the United States is a very unbalanced one. I suppose we are like a mouse trying to avoid distruction by a dancing elephant. Much as we may not want to, we have to pay attention to what goes on south of the border.
During my political life, I had the opportunity to serve as the Chair of a select committee of the Ontario Legislature to look out for Ontario's interests in the discussion of the original Free-Trade Agreement with United States. I put a lot of effort into dealing with the Americans themselves. I tried to approach them as an equal. I talked to various legislators in the American Congress and cabinet ministers in the Reagan administration about what I hoped would be a give-and-take between us. They spoke as if, somehow, they thought they were being taken advantage of and they wanted to "level the playing field". I would counter by saying that we wanted to "level the ice rink", but I always felt that they didn't really want to listen to us.
In the end, after speaking rather loudly to the media, we were able to look after many of Ontario's interests and our federal government signed the original Free Trade Agreement. I never lost the sense, however, that the Americans all really wanted to bully us.
Tip O'Neill said that all politics is local and I like to think that that is really true. The reality is, however, that, not only is the elephant dancing among us, but their politics is much flashier than ours, much more entertaining, if you will. We are drawn to it. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry often projects a corrupt political system. I suppose that that is more exciting. In any event, I'm afraid that I believe that many Canadians assume corruption exists here in situations where, at least in the media, it seems to exist in the United States. Nothing can get my back up more than for somebody to say "I never vote because politicians are just a bunch of crooks" I have met many politicians in my life and well under 1% have shown any signs of willingness to consider bending to corruption should the opportunity ever present itself.
It is in this context that my friend Brian Murdoch has asked me to talk about Donald Trump. Now, a lot has been said about Donald Trump. He was a television entertainer and a very successful one, amongst other things, before he was elected. Through Twitter he has managed to keep the whole world transfixed by his entertaining style. I believe that when he was elected he was essentially prepared to use his skill as a con man to steal as much as he could for himself his family and his friends. He had no sense of history and, so, he had no awareness at first of the might and power the office bestowed on him.
Unfortunately, that has gradually changed. He has destroyed much of what made America great during the twentieth century, but he does not know that. He likes to think, and he hopes, that he can con the rest of his countrymen into letting him stay in office for another four years. He has always been able to avoid justice and he hopes that that will continue. Does he fear that someday he may be charged and convicted of offences? I don't know. Justice is seldom really meted out to autocrats and dictators, and he would like to be in that situation, but the United States was not built to be an autocracy. If there is any country in the world with the spirit for justice it is United States.
Why would somebody this bad be a serious contender for reelection? Andrew Coyne recently described Trump as "perhaps the least suitable candidate for high office in the entire United States - a petulant, insecure manchild, so wholly lacking in intelligence, competence, integrity or emotional stability as to be disqualified in most states from driving a bus, let alone leading what was once the most powerful country on earth." As a former bus driver, I take issue with the analogy. But that maybe the point that Coyne is missing. Despite the fact that he clearly is not capable, there may be a lot of bus drivers and others in the United States who find it refreshing to have somebody up there at the top that just does things off the top of his head without reference to any advice he may or may not be given. "How refreshing", they must think.
Canadians place a lot more trust in our governments but we are not immune to being conned, ourselves. "Vote for Doug Ford and your beer will only be a dollar a bottle!"
Trump will never take the blame for anything. He is known to say to his audiences "you knew I was a snake when you took me in". He is basically saying that he is not his own fault, rather, his existence, is really the fault of the voters.
Dale Beran, writing about misogynist men who adhere to the alt-right wrote as follows:
"Since these men, like Trump, wear their insecurities on their sleeve, they fling insults in wild rabid bursts at everyone else.
"Trump, the loser, the outsider, the hot mess, the pathetic joke, embodies this duality. Trump represents both the alpha and the beta. He is a successful person who.... is also the exact opposite- a grotesque loser, sensitive and prideful about his outsider status, ready at the drop of a hat to go on the attack, self obsessed, selfish, abrogating, unquestioning of his own mansplaining and spreading, so insecure he must brag about assaulting women....
"Trump supporters voted for the con man, the labyrinth with no centre, because the labyrinth with no centre is how they feel, how they feel the world works around them. A labyrinth with no centre is a perfect description of their mother's basement with a terminal to an endless array of escapist fantasy worlds.
"Trump's bizarre, inconstant, incompetent, embarrassing, ridiculous behaviour.... are to his supporters his strengths....
"Trump is loserdom embraced. Trump is a loser who has won."
It couldn't be said better. Therefore, the worker in the West Virginia coal mine, if he is still there and has not died from cancer, will vote for Trump again. Now, while the country is in great turmoil, it might be ready to vote for a revolutionary like Bernie Sanders but, alas, the Democratic Party a few months back decided to be cautious. They will be nominating Joe Biden, who seems to be saying "vote for me and I promise not to be around for very long".
Then, what will happen?