The good thing about Trump
By Jim Poling
Published Sept. 29, 2016
The rise of Trumpism with all its anger, fear, wild exaggerations and other hateful negatives is a good thing.
Yes, a good thing - in one respect.
Before I get to that, Canadians need to understand that Trumpism is not a U.S-only phenomenon. It has manifested itself in the U.K. Independence Party and the Brexit vote; The National Front in France, the Golden Dawn in Greece, and hyper-nationalistic groups in some other countries.
These political forces thrive by gorging themselves on peoples’ fears. People fear changes they see occurring every day.
Economic uncertainty is prominent in their fears. Globalization continues to produce economic inequality that is upsetting individual lives, and political structures.
Middle classes are disappearing, leaving an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. Ditto the gap between big cities and smaller cities and towns where boarded windows are replacing factories and other businesses.
Terrorism’s constant presence is deepening fear of strangers and certain groups of people. Combined with that are swelling streams of refugees increasing fears of both economic insecurity and terrorism. Strangers viewed by people who fear that if they are not here to drain a shrinking pool of jobs, they are here to kill them.
In all this is the realization that the pillars of our democratic society are doing little to help. Growing numbers of people distrust the justice system, the news media, their religious institutions, and yes, governments.
Governments trowel serious problems with fresh plaster, but the cracks keep returning. Declining job prospects, the growing difficulties of home ownership, infrastructure rot, drug addiction are just a few of the challenges overwhelming our politicians.
Ontario is a classic study. It has been decades since the province has elected a government, of any political stripe, that has done anything more than smooth over, instead of fixing problems.
Sadly, we have a leadership vacuum. The people we need to lead, and the people most qualified to lead, do not want to be drawn into the current political miasma.
So why did I say that the rise of Trumpism is a good thing, in one respect?
In the beginning, Trumpism in the U.S. was dismissed as clownish vulgarism. It was laughable. Now it is being taken seriously and increasingly is becoming the topic of thoughtful writing. The writing has turned from the man, to the factors that have brought Trumpism. And, that’s a good thing.
The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal and others have done impressive pieces on social collapse and other factors contributing to Trump’s rise.
A book titled Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance also illustrates what has happened to the social structure of the United States. These works and others are helping Americans to understand the sicknesses in their democracy and help them to find the medicines and healers needed for cures.
This is not happening in Canada, although the same sicknesses exist here. If you don’t believe that, consider these random snippets: Factory workers who have been working 10 years as temps without any benefits, the nightly gunfire in Toronto, the 35,000 Canadians who are homeless every night, the nearly 500 people in British Columbia have died from drug overdoses this year, an increase of 60-plus per cent over last year.
Canadians are not getting much depth reporting about their big issue problems. The Canadian news industry is in ruins, falling apart because of corporate concentration, and dull-witted approaches to the digital revolution.
The industry plays defence against digital, instead of offence to learn from it, adapt to it and get ahead of it. Industry geniuses keep looking for profitable new ways to sell their news instead of how best to serve readers with quality content they are willing to pay for.
But why Canadians are poorly served with quality information about what is behind Trumpism, and what needs to be done to change that, is a story for another day.
Trump hopefully will fade from sight after the Nov. 8 presidential election. He’ll be gone but Trumpism, or whatever other names are attached to ultra-nationalistic movements, will be with us for years to come.