Exit the Apprentice from the White House
By Ewart Walters
It was 2008 and Senator Barack Obama was campaigning for the presidency of the United States. His opponents were searching diligently for something to smear him with. They came up with an April 2003 sermon by his mentor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in which he prophesied that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
A firestorm broke over the campaign, partly because Rev. Wright also said, “God damn America.” In what must have been a very agonizing exercise, Obama eventually had to distance himself from his beloved pastor.
But Rev. Wright was correct. We saw those chickens coming back in endless caravans of travellers walking towards the American border from several countries on Central America. These were countries where right-wing governments installed and supported by America had made life intolerable for the people and in fact killed thousands of their “disapericidos” countrymen. So people wanted to leave for the good life north of the border. America’s chickens. Which led to rump and his wall.
Other chickens were also roosting. These were the racists who got so riled up because the Black Obama was President that they began stocking up on guns, carried them to rallies, and even fired shots at the White House. Black men and women seemed to be more likely the targets of police bullets.
And then, the biggest chicken of all. Donald Trump.
Trump’s political ascent was built on a repeated lie about Obama’s birthplace. He wallowed in lies told for power and for profit.
Trump did not simply lie, however. He developed a mechanism of lying, then retracting, then lying again, thus leaving everyone unsure of what was really happening. He also resorted to saying one thing on prepared teleprompter speeches and then reversing himself the next minute with an off-the-cuff speech that was the real him.
His crude, misogynist, racist tenure ended on January 20 after the anarchy he instigated on January 6 – but was too coward to lead – flopped, leaving hundreds of criminal charges still being handed out to his followers as the world watched in shock.
Trump’s modus operandum was brewed in a putrid cauldron of ignorance, worthlessness, nastiness, filthiness, boorishness, insolence, and self-absorbed narcissism that could only exist in an individual of great wealth. A more unqualified person could not have been found to lead a democratic nation.
Which brings us to the matter of democracy.
It was Abraham Lincoln who provided the best definition of democracy: “Democracy is government by the people, of the people, for the people.”
Winston Churchill added: “Democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Barack Obama spoke of it as a freedom. “A freedom that only asks what’s in it for me; a freedom without commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of m our founding ideals and those who died in their defence.”
To find how America allowed itself to come under the influence of this ignoramus we must look at the Republican Party, a party that had been drifting further and further beyond the established right wing ever since the days of Ronald Reagan. Faced with Trump, the Republicans recognised the danger but decided to “let Trump be Trump.”
What they ended up with – at Trump’s bidding – was the attempted armed forced takeover of the government at Capitol Hill on January 6,
As New York Times writer Jamelle Bouie put it, “The Republican Party in 2021 is a party in near total thrall to its most radical elements, a party that in the main — as we just witnessed a few weeks ago — does not accept that it can lose elections and seeks to overturn or delegitimize the result when it does.
“It disseminates false accusations of voter fraud and then uses those accusations to justify voter suppression and disenfranchisement. It feeds lies to its supporters and uses those lies, as Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley did, to challenge the fundamental processes of our democracy.
“When in power in Washington, the Republican Party can barely govern, and when out of power, it does almost everything it can to stymie the government’s ability to act. And it was the party’s nearly unbreakable loyalty to Trump that neutered the impeachment power and enabled his fight to overturn constitutional government, which ended on Jan. 6 with a deadly mob wilding through the Capitol.
“The Trump stress test, in other words, has revealed a nearly fatal vulnerability in our democracy — a militant, increasingly anti-democratic Republican Party — for which we may not have a viable solution.
“But one thing is certain. The crisis of our democracy is far from over. The most we’ve won, with Trump’s departure, is a respite from chaos and a chance to make whatever repairs we can manage.”
But the empire fought back. Trump is gone. A real government is in place and working – for the people.
So could it happen here?
Yes, it could.
But it is not likely. The Conservative Party began a rightward drift when it got Stephen Harper as leader and stopped being the Progressive Conservatives. It then began aping the Republicans and their policies, and got Republican strategists to work for them here.
But so far, Canada does not have a Donald Trump – although at least one man who gave up his Canadian citizenship to become a British Lord and who used his money to purchase and control media, might have had some inclinations. Canada has racists; some people in high positions, including the head of the RCMP and the head of the Ottawa Police Association, continue to deny the existence of systemic racism.
Besides, the adopted American policies do not appear to bring the Conservatives any closer to the seat of power.
Ewart Walters is a journalist, author and former diplomat. He is a recipient of numerous awards including the Order of Ottawa.