Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner October 15, 2020
I’ve been gently chided for commenting too often on the looming election in the republic to the south of us.
However, I make bold with another piece because I am persuaded that that great, shuddering democracy, now at 244 years of age, is either awakening at last to its imminent peril, or succumbing to incipient fascism. That is too ominous for any of us to ignore.
The first presidential debate was debased by the behaviour of the sitting president. He ran roughshod over his opponent, the moderator and us, so that all semblance of civility was surrendered in a flurry of fact-free, personal insult. The 90-minute exposure became an ordeal: A classic case of abuse, shown to 71 million voters in the US and several hundred thousand Canadians.
A brutal man attempted to overpower another, in the absence of rational argument, heckling and shouting at a rate of 128 loud interruptions per hour (some people keep track of these numbers), in the face of a moderator out of his depth.
Wrote American Sherry Peters Wafford on Twitter: “Canadians probably feel like they live in the apartment above a meth lab right about now.” A favourite cartoon showed a large split-screen TV. One half, the presidential face, is covered by a tea towel, and the caption says: “Grandma has had enough.”
And for Canada? Here we have, once again in our living rooms, an object lesson in citizenship and politics. We have been granted the dubious privilege of being involved watchers. We must learn, and quickly, how a poorly-educated, and unreflective electorate, fed vicious lies on social media and other platforms, unable to face its racist past or come to terms with its inequalities, is on the brink of destroying its own noble experiment in living together.
I took part recently in a Zoom call with 45 American feminists. They wanted to know why Canada is so far ahead in progressive policies and views. I started with the two original notions: The American: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and the Canadian: “Peace, order and good government.”
The first is confident and startlingly self-centred; the second, modest and communal. The second underlies our halting but real attempts to put flesh on the idea of the common good: equality, universal services, a fair tax system, inclusion of all and, more recently, making amends with Indigenous people. The first glorifies the individual and his tribe before all.
The searing divisions and threats of violence in the run-up to election in the U.S. are revealed, none more so than by the assiduous work of CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale. He wrote: “Trump lies about every conceivable subject, but voting and the election might be the single subject on which he is most thoroughly dishonest.” Ah, the value of good journalists. The New York Times revealed that the “Midas touch” man owes more than $400 million to unknown creditors. This gives them leverage over him.
A Peterborough friend, an American scholar, tells me has mailed in his ballot, giving it four weeks to arrive. He has two friends who have done the same. “Peterborough,” he laughed, “based on three votes, is solidly Biden-Harris.” For my part, I hear the U.N. may be seeking volunteers to be election monitors. I will sign up.
Finally, from American journalist Anand Giridharadas, “He hosted a superspreader event to honour a justice who would have the government control your body and refuse the duty of care for it, and when the virus he helped go around, comes around, he avails of the health care he would deny others, financed by the taxes he refuses to pay.”
That, to me, is a perfectly crafted sentence. It rings with reality.
We hope for a massive rejection of this American administration, for all our sakes. And the complete exit of its dominant player.
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