Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It Can't Happen Here?

Canadians like to think that Donald Trump could never happen here. But he's been here and left -- for the moment. His name was Rob Ford. And he had lots of editorial support. David Beers writes:

As Donald Trump burst into an orange fireball melting down the Republican Party, one pundit telling us why was the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee. His analysis on Saturday echoed others: Gullible Republicans had fooled themselves into believing Trump could be tamed. They shrugged off his deep personal flaws and the divisions his bigotry would sow. Now “the Donald has come home to roost.”

If the GOP loses big “it will only have itself to blame” for siding with those who “seeded the clouds for Trump.” Blame some media, said Gee. Blame those “talk-show ranters” who cheered the rise of an unhinged narcissist with right-wing populist appeal.

Which, by the way, is pretty much what Marcus Gee did six years ago. In February 2010 he cheered the rise of an unhinged narcissist with right-wing populist appeal in his column headlined: “Rob Ford, Please Run. You’re the Right Guy for a Lefty Race.” 

Ford was not very bright, driven by demons and -- in the end -- doomed. But he railed against political correctness -- just as Margaret Wente does:

The country club conservative Margaret Wente, for example, drolly makes fun of Donald Trump. She also happens to regularly nurture the climate that helps Donald Trump thrive. Wente may shake her head at the “angry man yelling at me on TV.” She may marvel that “What’s stupefying is that so many people can’t see that the emperor is naked.” But Donald Trump and his supporters would resonate with much else she says, and they would appreciate her digs at his enemies: We have Trump, she argued in August, because “The Democrats have morphed into an alliance of liberal elites and minorities, with a relentless agenda of political correctness that has driven millions of people away.”

Donald Trump could happen anywhere at any time. All it takes is editorial -- and public -- support.

Image: Huffington Post


Kirby Evans said...

A Trump loss still leaves ominous questions for democracy in American (and in all Western countries that are feeling this kind of xenophobic pressures from the right). One question is, of course, what will happen right after the election? Will things get ugly? Will armed Trump supporters start acting up? But the longterm question is, arguably, more troubling. This election has demonstated that there is a large chunk of the US electorate that is de facto fascist. If they had an articulate, well groomed, younger better presented candidate, they could easily win the presidency. The question for countries like Canada is similarly troubling. Many of the front-runners for the Conservative leadership are now using racism as a wedge issue, and just the other day the new leader of the PQ was elected with what I would call an openly racist agenda. I fear with Trump we are just seeing the opening of the box.

Owen Gray said...

Jefferson believed that democracy would only survive if citizens were well informed, Kirby. We are beginning to understand how ill informed many of our fellow citizens are.

Steve said...

Harper was Trump with manners.

Dana said...

The trend toward hyper-nationalism, protectionism, racial identity and so on is not going to stop. It's going to intensify as the multiple realities of intensifying climate change emerge. The future is not friendly.

Dana said...

I'll just add that Marcus Gee was one of the very last Canadian journalasismists to cling to the myth of WMD in Iraq, long after pretty much the rest of the planet had realized that the whole thing was a bucket of spiders. Gee is a fool and a twerp. And of course the inestimable Wente is a serial plagiarist with Crawley dirt in her filing cabinet.

Owen Gray said...

You're right on both counts, Dana. We live in a time which requires careful analysis and respect for evidence. Both seem to be in short supply.

Owen Gray said...

On the surface, yes, Steve. But people like Mike Duffy, Helena Guergis and Danny Williams would say that the manners were only skin deep.

Toby said...

@ Kirby, there is a large chunk of every electorate that is de facto fascist. Their presence becomes manifest when times are rough. The reason we don't see as much fascism in Canada as in the US probably has more to do with our social and health support systems than our gentle natures.

Anonymous said...

Trump couldn't happen in Canada because the country is an establishment colony. The American neoliberal and neocon establishment is hysterical over Trump and pulling out all the stops to manipulate the people into senseless hysteria. But the president is still decided by a majority vote. So they don't have the final say.

In Canada, the establishment only has to manipulate 40% of the electorate to give the party that best represents its interests absolute corrupt power.

People should be more concerned about Bill Clinton and Obomba happening here. Which has already come to fruition. The Chretien/Martin Neo-Liberals were just as corrupt as the Bill Clinton Democrats promising change and delivering more free market reforms.

Now Stage 2: "Real Hope and Change" (this time we really mean it; nah, just kidding.) More neoliberal reforms PLUS neocon corruption. Canada is now selling arms to the Saudis and has soldiers on the ground in various war-profiteering endeavors of the US military industrial complex. (Hard to believe we were once a nation of peacekeepers.)

Not that it matters. Canadians don't have a say in their government. They won't have a say when Junior finds some way to kill his electoral reform initiative to keep the establishment in power. And even if they did have a say, would they say anything other than establishment messaging the establishment news media has conditioned them with?

I know Americans have a reputation for standing up to the establishment and are smart enough to realize that these neoliberal outsourcing schemes that are destroying the economy are the real problem not "populism" (i.e., democracy) and "protectionism" (i.e., centrist Keynesian mixed-market economics.)

The Mound of Sound said...

After years of watching the Globe's decline I finally stopped my subscription.That was back in 2006, shortly after I started my blog. Marcus Gee was the main reason and, in honour of him, I began referring to the Globe as the "toolbox."

At one point I emailed Gee, enclosing copies of his pre- and immediate post-Iraq invasion editorials. Like Wente, Gee relentlessly banged the war drums prior to the invasion. He positively vouchsafed Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld and Co. Despite the reports from Hans Blix, Gee assured Globe readers that Iraq was neck deep in WMDs. Naturally he chose not to respond to being hoist by his own petard.

From early October, 2006, just as I was deciding to axe the G&M:

"One of the more mysterious moves was the decision to appoint Marcus Gee as head of the paper's editorial board. This guy isn't very bright but he makes up for that by being an ideologue. He loves Bush and Harper and he supported the invasion of Iraq and he absolutely loves "the mission" in Afghanistan.

"Time and again, Marcus Gee blindly accepts whatever nonsense comes out of Washington. He embraces it and redistributes it as truth, as though by him repeating it the message somehow became even more true.

"Marcus Gee has a splendid record - of getting just about everything wrong. He's gullible and he's dim. Like the paper's Margaret Wente, Gee bought the ridiculous pap spread by the Iraqi exiles before the invasion. He bought everything Bush said before the invasion. He absolutely knew that Iraq was littered with WMDs. He knew that, thanks to the America invasion, the whole Middle East was going to be reformed and become democratic. He knows that Canada's "mission" in Afghanistan is the right thing to do.

"It is sad that the Globe doesn't have enough self-respect, enough concern for its own credibility that it doesn't go through Gee's pronouncements over the past five years, see how wrong he's been again and again and get somebody intelligent in that job."

That was 2006. A decade later, nothing's changed.

Owen Gray said...

It's that kind of stuff that makes demagogues like Trump and Ford possible, Mound. We're fools if we think we're immune to the Trump disease.

Owen Gray said...

I'm not at all sure, Anon, that Americans or Canadians have cottoned on to the consequences of Neo-liberalism.

Steve said...

Ford and Trump are not winners, they are the losers seen as better than the status quo.

Owen Gray said...

One way or other, pressures from all over will not allow things to stay as they are, Steve. The question is, "Will the change be for the better?"