Win or lose subsequent month, Donald Trump has received the day — for years to come back.
With or with out Trump, Trumpism is right here to remain awhile but. Regardless of who wins the presidential election, now we have already misplaced our approach.
Not simply them however us. Not merely American democracy however Canada’s political tradition and public discourse.
If that sounds alarmist, be alarmed. Don’t take my phrase for it, heed the warnings of two savvy political operators who’ve witnessed the waning days of democracy on either side of the border, on the entrance traces and within the backrooms.
David MacNaughton served as our ambassador to Washington, D.C. for many of Trump’s presidency. A longtime political aide, marketing campaign organizer and personal guide in Canada, MacNaughton got here away appalled by America’s unravelling — and apprehensive about our collective capacity to climate the fallout.
The ambassador made it his mission to fend off Trump’s assaults and salvage NAFTA — a Canadian within the lion’s den — bringing politicians of all stripes along with union and enterprise leaders for a “Team Canada” coalition. However even that success story proved an ephemeral alliance, as Canadian politics turns into ever extra fragmented into hyper-partisanship and “fringe groups” that threaten a convention of compromise and compassion.
“We cannot be smug,” MacNaughton instructed a Ryerson Democracy Discussion board I moderated this month. Until Canadians come collectively — not simply politicians, however the voters who elect them, and the media that affect them — “this situation will get worse.”
As cautious as MacNaughton was, fellow panelist Naheed Nenshi, appeared much more nervous. The outspoken mayor of Calgary invented his personal model of grassroots politics a decade in the past, however fears Trumpism is trampling on his greatest laid plans for civil society.
And now he wonders if he’ll even be a part of our politics because it unravels.
“I gotta tell you, I have to decide now whether I’m going to run for another term,” Nenshi instructed a stunned viewers of scholars and school. “What a lot of people are telling me is, ‘Why in the world do you do that to yourself in this political environment?’”
The issue is that “politics right now is broken and ugly and awful, and I still don’t know what I’m going to do, but … politics is merely a reflection of who we are as a people.”
We introduced these two quintessentially Canadian folks collectively — political operative and practising politician — not simply to diagnose America’s political virus however to prescribe a treatment for Canada to inoculate and quarantine itself from the contagion in mid-pandemic.
Our expectation was that the previous ambassador would provide a pessimistic account of America’s turmoil whereas the mayor would possibly proffer an antidote — or at the very least a dose of optimism. We had been incorrect.
There will likely be no completely happy endings even when Trump is vanquished and his Republican enablers lose their stranglehold on Washington. Within the worst of occasions, one of the best that may be hoped for is a brand new starting — a rebuilding of democracy on either side of the border.
Tempting as it’s to wag our fingers at People — their cash politics, racist politics and wedge politics — Nenshi factors an accusing finger nearer to dwelling.
“I’m not sure if I have a happier story for the future,” Nenshi mused after listening to the ambassador’s dystopian evaluation of America. “There’s a lot of not fun things about public discourse.”
Proper right here in Canada.
“Things have completely changed over the 10 years of public life that I’ve been in. The amount of racism, the amount of anger and vitriol that I am subjected to … on a daily basis is really unbelievable, and it has gotten so much worse.”
Canada’s political tradition is dependent upon “big tent” events that deliver folks collectively relatively than pushing them aside, argued MacNaughton, a principal secretary to ex-premier Dalton McGuinty. “It’s very worrisome, and I think what you see in the parties is a polarization … that is a real threat to our democracy.”
The current political restoration of Premier Doug Ford, who shed his pugnacity after faltering badly within the polls final yr, exhibits that individuals are in a post-partisan temper, mid-pandemic: “Canadians don’t want their politicians to be fighting all the time.”
Each agreed that Canada just isn’t but America, regardless that our discourse has coarsened. Nenshi recounted how his skeptical Calgary metropolis council in the end supported necessary masks after a physician made an impassioned plea.
Masks are the brand new medicare — proof, as with gun management, abortion and capital punishment, that we’re certainly totally different. However when push involves shove, Canadians usually are not proof against intolerance.
Our immigration and refugee consensus is definitely rattled when boat folks land on our shores or cross-border migrants stroll over. Sure, politicians are vulnerable to exploiting folks’s fears, however fringe positions are likely to fade from Canada’s panorama — whether or not as a result of voters aren’t swallowing what far-right politicians are saying, or viewers aren’t shopping for what far-right media are promoting.
The ability of social media and mass media to distort our discourse — from Twitter to Fb and Fox Information — can’t be underestimated. However when the 2 panellists — getting old political warriors — had been requested by a younger viewers member if that they had any “words of warning or support” for in the present day’s youth amid the political tumult, they rallied to the trigger:
“Get involved, because actually you can make a difference,” MacNaughton insisted.
“All this chaos, all this craziness that is going on around us is also an opportunity … to figure out something new,” added Nenshi. “What I’d say to young people who really get discouraged is: Your country is not something that happens to you, your country is something that you get to build.”