Donald Trump is not a phenomenon. He is not a disease. He is not a cancer that could be cut out of the political spectrum, leaving it healthy. Because the diagnosis is in; our system ain’t healthy already. And I suspect the people who are supposed to be fixing it have no interest in doing so because they are feeding off the results. So maybe Trump can be of use. That which does not kill us makes us strong.
Trump is a Symptom.
He is the logical extreme of what has been happening in American (and Canadian) politics for years. The adaptation of a one-issue pro-business platform by one of the major parties has led to a heavy us-against-them mentality, causing increased divisiveness between the Left and Right. Meanwhile, the objectionable behaviour and cynical attitude of many politicians of all stripes has led to a downturn in respect from the voters for the whole lot of them. Combine these two factors, stir in a confidence man who takes a pro-business, anti-politician stance, and…presto! Bozo in the White House.
Let’s not Blame Trump
Canada just lived through years of a leader who persuaded the right wing that he was the cat’s pyjamas because he was a strong leader and a friend of business. Sort of like people I know who thought they were marrying an admirably strong person and ended up with an abuser. Yep, it was someone strong, all right. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference at first, especially if the person is good at hiding it until he gets what he wants: power.
American Politics is Skewed
(No, I really said, ‘skewed.’ But I could have said what it sounded like and still been correct)
The clever trick of the Right in American politics has to do with education. They refuse to allow decent funding for the public education system, thereby creating an ignorant underclass that can be fooled into voting for them. Keep the same people in fear by refusing them health care and allowing every thug to wander the streets carrying assault weapons, and you’ve got a pool of voters to lead around by the nose in perpetuity. Then, with all the money they make through bribing the government to pass business-friendly laws, they send their kids to private schools to create clones of themselves.
Then you have the Left-hand side of the spectrum, the well-educated liberals who educate their children in private schools, telling them that their way is the right way, because they are Helping The Poor and Needy. Of course the poor, uneducated needy don’t know how they should be helped, but we do, so we will.
Thus both sides draw a jagged line between the source of political leaders and the voters who feel themselves ignored.
The Bottom Line?
Both countries have archaically non-democratic systems, which (as the Canadian Liberal Party just proved) no political party wants to change. The Canadians need a more democratic election process, but that would lead to more minority governments, and no political party that has tasted power wants that. The Americans need to educate and protect their people. All of them. But no political party wants to do that, either, because then the voters might start to think for themselves.
The depressing conclusion we are drawn to is that both systems allow each party to be Supreme Ruler for a certain percentage of the time. Neither party wants to change this, because if the voters actually took control, nobody would get to be Dictator, ever. They’d all have to listen to others all the time, and somewhere in there, the voters might actually have some power.
I always remember a guy I knew whose family was part of the governing elite in Columbia. He told me that the numerous revolutions were bogus. There was one small group of rich people who always ran the country. Every new revolution just put another set of people from the same class into power, and the next revolution threw them out again while someone else took a turn getting rich. None of them ever did anything to help the common people who supported them.
Substitute “election” for “revolution,” and it sounds just like us. Much as it makes my teeth grind to use the term, we seem to have a political elite comprised of two groups who trade power back and forth, with no intention of changing the system to the benefit of the voters.
Perhaps a good dose of Donaldism will change their minds. Let me see, how does a vaccine work? You inject a weaker version of the germ, warning the subject to prepare defenses to fight against the real disease when it comes.
The news is plain to see, folks; the disease is already here. And the only antibodies we need to fight it are those little black-and-white squares of paper we put into the ballot box.