Hello Hippie Chick : at least you could just move to the Canada that will (hopefully) re-elect Justin Trudeau on October 21?

Jul 20th, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief
Ayanna Pressley, born 1974 in Cincinnati, Ohio, raised in Chicago, Illinois, and now the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

What to make of the latest political craziness in the USA today (at least from where I live, north of the Great Lakes)? Here are four clusters of mid-summer 2019 intelligence, gleaned from the World Wide Web – and beyond :

I. THE WISDOM OF GEORGE WILL : My shrewdest insider source from the hard left has drawn attention to two recent pieces on the wit and wisdom of the anti-Trump conservative and lapsed US Republican George Will – “George Will’s startling assessment of Donald Trump” and “Will: To defeat Trump, Democrats should nominate Bennet.”

According to Chris Cillizza at CNN, Will sadly underlines how “Trump has taught politicians … that telling the truth isn’t all that important … Trump has already changed the presidency – and our culture – in profound ways that will not simply ‘snap back’ once he leaves office.”

Will’s long-shot best choice for Democrat leader in the great cause of defeating Trump on November 3, 2020 (still almost a year and a half away) is the Colorado Senator Michael Bennett.

2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang is another long-shot best choice for Democrat leader among some close observers. He at the very least has things to say about public policy in our current high-tech economy (and culture) that are well worth hearing.

In George Will’s own words : “Bennet believes that Trump is more a symptom than a cause of political dysfunction, and he regrets that ‘the capitalists have lost control of the Republican Party.’” Much more to the point : “China’s perfection – and exporting – of the ‘surveillance state’ makes American democracy more important, and therefore its current degradation especially alarming.”

II. A LOT OF BAD (AND A LITTLE GOOD) NEWS ? : My own quick troll through the recent online news and views has picked up only two pieces of good against six of bad news.

Good news : (1) from another lapsed Republican critic of Trump, Bill Kristol, after the July 17 Trump rally in North Carolina : “After last night’s appalling rally, it would be a genuine act of patriotism for Republican elected officials today to denounce both Trump’s rhetoric and the crowd’s chants.” (Of course very few did!) And (2) from our Canadian journalist Jeet Heer, who currently writes for the Nation in the USA : “Racism Is Not a Winning Issue For Trump … Pundits think Trump’s bigotry benefits him–but a united Democratic party can easily win.”

Jeet Heer, “who divides his time between Toronto and Regina” and has “built up an international audience of more than 15,000” on Twitter.

Bad news : (1) “There’s a sobering truth to Trump’s racist tweets that we don’t like to admit” ; (2) “GOP Approval for Trump Rises AFTER Racist Tweets” ; (3) “Trump Averages 42.7% Job Approval in 10th Quarter” ; (4) “Trump is leading a hate movement, and the world is watching” ; (5) “Today, Democrats Are Defending ‘The Squad.’ What Happens Tomorrow?” ; and (6) “Democrats are falling into the same trap they did in 2004 : Nicolle Wallace.”

III. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE – JOHN GUNTHER ON INSIDE USA IN 1947 : Too many Canadians foolishly believe they are the closest and thus most astute observers of America extant. And I confess to suffering from the syndrome.

Nonetheless in trying to figure out the wit and wisdom of George Will, and all the good and bad news about the latest political craziness in the USA today, some historical perspective can help. I have long been impressed by a brilliant one-sentence summary from an American student of the subject, first pointed out to me in a 1948 article by the near-great Canadian economic historian and communications theorist, Harold Innis. (Also godfather to Marshall McLuhan, and first Canadian president of the American Economic Association.)

John Gunter’s Inside USA, first published in 1947, was re-published in a 50th Anniversary edition in 1997. It still has useful things to tell us about the USA today, in 2019!

John Gunther (1901—1970) was a Chicago journalist and author, who helped his fellow Americans understand such tricky subjects of his time as Inside Europe (1936), Inside Asia (1939), Inside Latin America (1941), and Inside Africa (1955). In 1947 he turned his talents inward with Inside USA – a still intriguing and even helpful guide to the vast complexity of the American experience, more or less state by state : from “California the Golden” to “New States of the Southwest.”

As Innis pointed out in his 1948 article on a related subject : “The United States has been described by John Gunther as ‘the greatest, craziest, most dangerous, least stable, most spectacular, least grown-up, and most powerful and magnificent nation ever known.’”

This is of course how things looked as the USA assumed the role of “leader of the free world” (or however you want to put it) in the immediate wake of the Second World War. It is part of what Donald Trump is reacting against, some might say, that “most powerful and magnificent nation ever known” seems less convincing today. (See, eg, Scott Gilmore’s July 17, 2019 piece in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine : “Losing the leadership of the free world … Thirty years ago, it was easy to believe when Reagan said that America was a ‘beacon of freedom’. Nobody’s buying it today.”)

Hitchhiking home from Woodstock nude, 1969.”

Yet it helps me to see that, while George Will is almost certainly right when he urges Donald Trump will be leaving some dark marks on American political culture when he leaves office, the USA has always been (at least since the Civil War?) “the greatest, craziest, most dangerous, least stable, most spectacular, least grown-up … nation ever known.” And, remembering the forward-looking election of President Barack Obama, twice (2008 and 2012, and by considerably greater margins than Mr. Trump in 2016), I finally believe that Democracy in America will still win in the end.

IV. WHEN IT GETS TOO MUCH FOR SOME PROGRESSIVE AMERICANS, THEY CAN ALWAYS COME TO CANADA FOR REST AND REVIVAL (HOPEFULLY AT LEAST) : The saddest thing I’ve come across on Twitter in the last few days is a tweet from “HippieChick @kathy_markovich” (who has more than 16,000 followers), just before midnight ET on July 17 : “I was told by a FORMER friend today if I didnt like trump, to move to canada and get out of America! … I was also verbally bitch slapped today by my mother inlaw, and my birth father, both trump supporters, AND a childhood friend … Im not coping well….”

I’d like to end here by underlining that, as far as I’m concerned, as a Canadian citizen and passport holder (along with many others, I’m sure), Hippie Chick would be more than welcome if she did finally decide to take her former friend’s advice and move to Canada – for a while in any case.

According to Bloomberg News on July 18, 2019 : “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Council President Donald Tusk both went off topic after a bilateral summit in Montreal to make a pointed dig at Donald Trump and his supporters.”

As I’m regularly reminded by our current Ontario provincial Conservative Premier Doug Ford (cf State Governor in the USA), we in the “true north, strong and free” of North America are not immune from the political disease currently infecting the American body politic. But I pray every day that we will re-elect Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the federal level in our next Canadian election, this coming October 21. Hopefully (and perhaps with support in parliament from New Democratic and Green parties), there will continue to be some semblance of progressive democratic government north of the US border – to keep a light in the window until Donald Trump is finally removed from office, whenever and however that will happen.

Meanwhile, best wishes to HippieChick. There are many better sides to her country. And that’s still where the majority of Americans continue to reside. They just have to figure out how to make their majority work for the majority again, in “the greatest, craziest, most dangerous, least stable, most spectacular, least grown-up” but still also one of the most free and democratic countries in the rising new global village today – where the ideal of modern democracy was born, with “We hold these truths to be self-evident, ” long ago in 1776!

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