How to miss the Republican Convention in Cleveland without being sad ..

Jul 19th, 2016 | By | Category: In Brief

As it happens, summer family obligations mean I’ll miss most of the US Republican convention in Cleveland. Veteran North American progressive political junkie that I am, why am I not sad?

(Well … I did stay up last night with the diverse gang at MSNBC, as they only somewhat gleefully pondered the news that at least a few parts of Melania Trump’s 2016 speech sound remarkably like a few parts of Michelle Obama’s parallel speech of 2008. I will try to catch a little more of their work. And I am especially looking forward to connecting once or twice with Bill Maher’s convention coverage, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.)

A very economical piece posted today by Johanna Schneller, the Toronto Star’s “media connoisseur who zeroes in on pop-culture moments,” has helped me understand why I am almost happy to almost sit out the Republican convention.

“Johanna Schneller and Ian Brown at the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Gala,” December 2012. (Tom Sandler For The Globe and Mail.)”

The title summarizes Ms Schneller’s essential message : “It’s too late for Colbert and Stewart’s Comedy Cavalry … The divide between the issues of the world and Donald Trump’s inadequacy to handle them is too serious for jokes.”

There is a sense in which I  agree. One side of me cries out that it is not President Barack Obama but Donald Trump who has coarsened and lowered the level of public debate, to the point where some even in our “free and democratic” societies (as alluded to in Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982) viciously conclude that shooting your opponents is legitimate political action.

Trump has been telling the American people that you have to be strong the old-fashioned way, stand up for yourself belligerently, and push people around to get what you want. And that’s what he’s good at.

Apart from anything else, however, we’ve heard all this before and it never has worked. Donald Trump may say he’s some next new thing. But it is just his kind of thinking that got Democracy in America into the longest and least successful war in its history in Iraq.

Trump thinks he avoids that problem by saying it was wrong to go into Iraq, and the mistake was caused by intelligence failure. Or possibly Sadam Hussein was a useful hedge against terrorism? Yet all this does is underline what Johanna Schneller calls Donald Trump’s inadequacy to handle the issues of the world. It was wrong to go into Iraq because that kind of strong, push-people-around strategy cannot very often achieve American foreign policy goals in the 21st century.

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The lovely Hallie Jackson at GOP Convention in Cleveland ... dressed in red like a Canadian Liberal and ready to interview anyone who thinks they know what Donald Trump and his beautiful wife Melania are really doing ...

That has been the great lesson President Obama has so successfully learned and applied, to the  benefit of all of us who look for US leadership in keeping an international framework conducive to the survival and prosperity of free and democratic societies alive and vital.

At the same time, there is another sense in which – as a happy lifetime resident of the true north strong and free – I cannot have any impact on the November 8, 2016 election in the USA today.

I can’t vote, of course. My international status is that of a Canadian citizen next door, etc … (And we did manage to get rid of our Conservative prime minister last year, even if Donald Trump also makes Stephen Harper look almost sensible …)

In happier days gone by.

At this moment there seems to me an all-too serious chance that Donald Trump just might be the next President of the United States of America when the new year rolls around. And I don’t like the vague talk that maybe this wouldn’t be the end of the world …

I refuse to seriously contemplate the American Tragedy of President Donald Trump until it actually happens, if it ever does, which I still think is unlikely (except that the world today seems full of surprises).

Hillary impressed me in her response to Bernie’s endorsement at last. My political formula  for understanding the 2016 US election is still Nil desperandum – never despair.

In any case, I am in fact altogether happy that family obligations will be taking me away from my television set (and my desk top computer) for the next while. Democratic politics is supposed to support and even promote such excursions among we the hard-working people.

Meanwhile, because I value my wife’s cooking, I will continue to pray for the campaign of Hillary Clinton – who as even Newt Gingrich seemed to be suggesting to Chris Matthews last night, is in real life a very intelligent, hard-working lady who might become a quite capable First Woman President of the USA … land of the free and home of the brave …   (Or as they say on the New Hampshire licence plates : “Live free or die”! And if you really do believe in that, Hillary probably is your man … as in “HILLARY — MORE OF A REAL MAN THAN HE’LL EVER BE” … well, maybe not, of course, but … )

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