US Super Tuesday 2, 2016 etc : “practically all Canadians, of course, vote Democratic in American elections”

Mar 17th, 2016 | By | Category: In Brief

Hell 2, Hieronymus Bosch (1450—1516).

The wisest thing I’ve come across on the American presidential primaries lately urges that 2016 so far is “democracy as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch” (from the Huffington Post’s “Top 12 Reasons This Is The Most Depressing Election Ever,” March 14, 6:53 AM ET).

As best as I can tell a few days later, the so-called Super Tuesday 2, March 15, has done nothing to alter the essential wisdom of this assessment. Some say “The Stop Trump Movement Got New Life In Ohio … A floor fight in Cleveland just got a lot more likely.” Others note that “The path forward for Trump, Cruz and Kasich” still looks best (and getting better even?) for Trump.

And then there’s “Florida Gov. Rick Scott endorses Donald Trump” (along with Rudy Guliani and Sheldon Adelson?) and “Trump warns of ‘riots’ if denied Republican presidential nomination.” (And then of course “With Marco Rubio’s Florida Defeat, The ‘Great On Paper’ Candidate Finally Fizzles Out.” Big mistake for the party of Lincoln here in my view, but, like Rodney Dangerfield years ago, I get no respect …  etc, etc … )

Meanwhile, “Hillary Clinton won victories in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina on Tuesday that cast doubt on US Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ability to overtake her for the Democratic Party’s nomination.” While Bernie remains the only really interesting thing about the Democratic campaign … (And I don’t find the thought that Ted Cruz would be even worse than Trump on the Republican side seriously comforting myself …)

Newlyweds Donald Trump and Melania Trump with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton at their reception held at The Mar-a-Lago Club in January 22, 2005 in Palm Beach, Fla. (Maring Photography/Getty Images/Contour by Getty Images.)

Today, March 17 (Happy St. Patrick), up here in the true north strong and free, we have been informed as well by the excellent Canadian polling analyst Éric Grenier’s “Despite Donald Trump’s wins, US primaries far from over.”

According to M. Grenier “Trump would have to win every winner-take-all state and about two-thirds of the vote in the proportional states to win a majority of delegates before the final day of voting on June 7 … Even if Trump manages to secure a majority of delegates by the end of the primary season, the drama … will likely stretch long into the summer for the Republicans.” (The Cleveland convention runs July 18—21.)

Meanwhile again, Justin Trudeau has recently compared Trump and Rob Ford, and urged : “Bien des gens ne comprenaient pas pourquoi il (Rob Ford) était si populaire, mais il misait sur un sentiment bien réel et légitime au sein de la population.” (Loosely, and I think Trudeau actually said something like this in English : Not everyone picked this up, but Rob Ford appealed to some real and legitimate popular concerns.)

But is Trudeau (like Obama and others) also right, when he assures us that Trump can never win a general election, because in the end the American people are just too wise and too democratic?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in ceremonial headdress received from Tsuu T'ina First Nation near Calgary, Alberta, Friday, March 4, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.)

Until we know for sure the cautionary tale certainly seems to be that historical accidents can happen. As far as I’m concerned this is still “The Most Depressing Election Ever.”  And, as things look right now, the nightmare will not end until the actual US presidential election on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (And of course there remains at least some prospect that on November 9, 2016 the nightmare will have only just begun.)

Anyway whatever happens, up here in the northern woods and so forth Barack Obama’s 10-year younger friend Justin Trudeau will remain Prime Minister of Canada. And as the late great Canadian political historian Frank Underhill explained long ago : “practically all Canadians, of course, vote Democratic in American elections.”

A short note on Frank Underhill and the 2016 US elections

Frank Underhill (1889—1971) from Stouffville, Ontario was wounded on the Somme front in the First World War, and returned to teach history at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Toronto, and Carleton University.

It strikes me that I used to remember this Frank Underhill quotation as “Canadians always vote Democratic in American elections” – which also strikes me as a more memorable way of expressing this essential truth in any case.

But in the current situation changing quotations somewhat to make them sound better sounds a little too much like Donald Trump!

In any event, the historical Canadian case of Frank Underhill (not of course any relation to President Frank Underwood on US TV) may also say something to American Democrats still wondering about the choice between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in 2016.

In his mid 40s Underhill was “a founder of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation” (CCF) ancestor of the present-day sort-of-still-socialist New Democratic Party (NDP), “and helped write its Regina Manifesto in 1933.”

Some delegates to the 1933 CCF convention that launched the Regina Manifesto in Canada.

(And some will say the start of the 1933 Regina Manifesto – launched in Regina, Saskatchewan, the Canadian province that would elect “the first socialist government in North America” in 1944 –  also has some albeit quite vague relevance in 2016 : “WE AIM TO REPLACE the present capitalist system, with its inherent injustice and inhumanity, by a social order from which the domination and exploitation of one class by another will be eliminated, in which economic planning will supersede unregulated private enterprise and competition, and in which genuine democratic self-government, based upon economic equality will be possible. The present order is marked by glaring inequalities of wealth and opportunity, by chaotic waste and instability; and in an age of plenty it condemns the great mass of the people to poverty and insecurity.”)

William Lyon Mackenzie King (left) and Franklin D.Roosevelt at the Quebec Conference 1943. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ National Archives of Canada.

After the Second World War Frank Underhill began to stray into what some at least would regard as neighbouring but still different fields. And he acquired growing respect for Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King – who still holds the record for time spent in office as Canadian prime minister (1921— 26, 1926—30, 1935—1948), and is the inventor of the legendary national political slogan “conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription” (as well as the grandson of the leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837).

On Mackenzie King’s retirement in 1948 Underhill wrote : “His statesmanship has been a more subtly accurate, a more flexibly adjustable Gallup poll of Canadian public opinion than statisticians will ever be able to devise. He has been the representative Canadian, the typical Canadian, the essential Canadian, the ideal Canadian, the Canadian as he exists in the mind of God.”

Under such guidance Frank Underhill from the agrarian democratic countryside north of the lakes (also John Kenneth Galbraith country) finally found himself as a North American liberal who believed in an independent future for Canada. And the title of the collection of his writings he published in 1960, at the age of 71, was In Search of Canadian Liberalism.

(It is as well one of various encouraging things about the Canadian and hopefully the wider North American future today that a fresh edition of Underhill’s In Search of Canadian Liberalism, appeared in 2013. It includes an introduction by Kenneth Dewar who has also written a still more recently published book, Frank Underhill and the Politics of Ideas –  with a “Foreword by Bob Rae” – that I really must get around to reading, very soon.)

Now … if only Hillary were more like Mackenzie King (a joke of course, of course), or even better Justin Trudeau, who may finally be updating the Mackenzie King act for a more stylish era, in pursuit of a political art and craft his more intellectually brilliant father never quite mastered.

Christ in Limbo, Follower of Hieronymus Bosch (1450—1516).

Anyway, in my weaker moments I am starting to think that Ms X may actually be right in her longstanding crazy view that Hillary should finally choose Bernie as her VP. That, apparently, is what it’s like to live in a painting by Hieronymus Bosch –  or even one of his copycat “Followers” … which makes you wonder : is Donald Trump really several different people?

Well … several different persona (ae?) at least, each suited to different occasions … And which one will be on display when the Iranians or (fill in your own blank) really do something stupid next? Time to go for a drink. (Or even seek solace in such crazy headlines as “ACTOR JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME: ROCKEFELLER & ROTHSCHILD FAMILIES WON’T LET TRUMP OR CRUZ WIN.”)

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