A couple of weeks before the US election I incorrectly stated Donald Trump was finished because of the “pussy-grabbing” audio tape… His poll numbers dropped after the taped admission of casual sexual assault. Rod Mickleburgh was much more accurate, when he suggested that the Democrats had released that tape too early in the campaign. That turned out to be true, as Trump’s poll numbers recovered. And if there wasn’t massive Russian hacking of voting machines, Trump is President.
I want to share my admittedly dark thoughts on what this means , how it relates to politics in Canada, and why “We aren’t nearly frightened enough”
I have spent the last year and a half as a new member of the political blogging community in BC. I’ve been supporting a narrative that BC media is too soft on a government that thinks nothing of ethics (triple delete, health firings) or law (SCC-BCTF ruling, influence peddling). Media, in my opinion, also supports a narrative of fiscal concern and competence with regard to the BCLib government which has holes you could drive an aircraft carrier through… (ICBC, Hydro debt, Site C energy projections, provincial capital debt inflation).
Ironically, much of my supporting argument comes from the mainstream media which I criticize. I’m a lover of newspapers.. And if there were any 6 PM newscasts worth watching in BC I would be a devoted viewer. But this is important: most of the time the news I think should be reported is reported… If it doesn’t get through to the electorate there is a legitimate debate about to what degree that is “MSM’s fault”. Does the media ask enough follow up questions? I think no. Does the media fall prey to the bias in favour of the new? I think yes…(Yesterday and today we will talk about privatizing campsites without enough information to properly judge Clark’s plans instead of talking about the 14 year war on the BCTF she began and lost bigly only two weeks ago). But while I make these judgments about the perceived inadequacy of BC Media, I want you to think about it and make your own assessments.
I’ve often noted how the arrival in BC of investigative reporter Kathy Tomlinson of the Globe and Mail constituted an earthquake in the complacency of government toward a real estate bubble driven by greed, by fraud, and by company donations to the governing party. One journalist changed the course of BC history by adding her weight to the efforts of Sam Cooper and Ian Young, who had been sounding the bell for a couple of years. Eventually, we will arrive at better Real Estate governance and policy because she came here.
How does this relate to Trump’s election? It’s about the end of facts. It’s about a world in which millions of people wrap themselves in a bubble of the fake and slanted news they want to believe rather than digging behind the 140 characters on Twitter or the 20 second Fox News/CNN headlines. (My blog, and the blogs I admire, are an act of resistance to the death of facts in a world of spin and misdirection.)
When CNN burst on the news scene roughly around the time of the first Gulf War if I recall (someone correct me if I’m wrong) , we entered a world in which news was constant but shallow. We became bombarded with the latest breaking story (always with video) told in 50 words. The news cycle was repeated every half hour. Analysts commented quickly before any analysis of what just happened could possibly be done deeply or rationally.
As much as I’m a fan of Twitter as a way to get links to a wider array of news sources on a daily basis than I’d otherwise be able to access….. And as much as I use Twitter as a way to get my licks in to various debates…I’m getting pretty jaded about it. It’s become a tool for those who get excited before thinking. Sometimes that describes me. It describes Trump in spades.
The evolution of the 24 hour news cycle (and the rise of disreputable news sources such as Breitbart) is the election of a madman as leader of the “free world”. Donald Trump is not sane. The fact he won the election, but thinks it’s essential to go on Twitter alleging “millions of people voted illegally against him” proves this. He has no evidence. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud perpetrated by the Democrats.
It’s incredible that Trump, 70 days or so from inauguration, would undermine confidence in the system he leads based on the rantings of Alex Jones or anyone else. He’s about to lead the most powerful army ever assembled, and when the New York Times or CNN point out to the population that Donald Trump is lying? Donald Trump feels it necessary to lash out at them on social media. For a summary of this see Montreal Simon’s blog here. http://montrealsimon.blogspot.com/2016/11/donald-trumps-latest-scary-twitter.html
What Donald Trump did was advance a narrative to support wider efforts at voter suppression… If “millions of fraudulent votes were cast” then surely every voter roll must now be redone across the US, with an eye to making sure “those people” (mostly brown) prove their citizenship. Equally troubling, Trump has created an atmosphere in which anyone who looks or sounds as if they were not born in America is looked on with enhanced suspicion. And the boldness of anti-Black and anti-Muslim threats has grown since his election (according to the FBI).
Trump will take no responsibility for the social carnage his 3 AM Twitter tirades wreak on his society. He’s no longer a candidate manipulating the rubes with populist rhetoric. The fact he is still speaking so irresponsibly reveals that it’s who he is… DT is an unbalanced, chaotic, attention seeking, easily riled and temperamental narcissistic madman who has no idea of the impact his random words and statements now have. It’s no longer about Donald Trump. It’s no longer “reality TV entertainment”. Except it seems that the United States of America has become a four year episode of Jerry Springer, and the audience is the President.
We aren’t nearly frightened enough of what that means in Canada.
We have Kellie Leitch, supported by Nick Kouvalis who ran Rob Ford campaigns and worked with Christy Clark as well, telling us “Donald Trump’s message needs to come to Canada”. She soft-sells more stringent immigration interviews, (never mind we don’t have the staff to personally interview every applicant, and our system works just fine). This is insidious, soft-coloured racism… it appeals to a base that is frightened of the different and foreign. It should not be underestimated because that base may well be wide enough in the CPC to elect Kellie Leitch leader. I have no idea if Leitch is really a racist herself, but from there, she would owe that portion of the CPC base something, and could well become our “Le Pen”. Don’t kid yourself that isn’t what Kouvalis may be thinking.
We have racist flyers distributed in Richmond BC, as our own despicable wingnut minority gets more vocal. These people are few, but they see an opening with the possibility of conflating legitimate complaints about fraud and money-laundering and tax evasion in BC Real Estate fuelled by foreign money with anti-Chinese sentiment. Crime and rule bending and a blind eye turned to those things by complacent provincial and federal governments are, in fact, blind to race. But the bigots can use this.
The defence against all this is education and journalism. These undercurrents in our discourse have to be challenged, and when they are challenged by media, we have to support it. When CBC National hosts the bigot Ann Coulter from the US, we have to call them out and make sure the National tells us clearly who she is and what she represents. It’s essential in a free democracy that media be both trusted and trustworthy.
Bloggers in BC are understandably not too popular with the press… We’ve arisen in response to social media technology first of all… Some of us have arisen to challenge the media to be better, to dig more deeply, to be less biased in favour of both the status quo politically and the “new” in terms of story selection. … No doubt there are some who have arisen or will arise to disrupt civil society, the way fake news sites from Europe disrupted the US election narrative.
Now I’m speaking for myself, and I invite anyone to read my stuff and tell me where I’ve gone wrong if I have…. I blog to contribute to knowledge of how media and government are behaving. I blog because I care about a rationally ordered society which works as well as it can, for everyone. Bloggers can be feared as contributing to a “post-truth” political discourse….I work to resist it.
And yes, Donald Trump scares the hell out of me, mostly because he’s real, but substantially because he wrote a nightmarish new narrative about how to win in politics. It must not happen here.