Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Requiem for an epoch

My life began as we emerged from horrible decades of genocide, world wars, and depression. The lessons we learned at unimaginable cost gave rise to an era of stability, growth, and prosperity accompanied by unprecedented international cooperation.

Today we stand at the edge of a precipice. A very dangerous time in history.

Never have the threats to our well being loomed this large.

We have now turned a corner. Institutions devoted to peace, stability, and building a global community that took generations to build are threatened with disruption. We are turning our backs on outreach to retreat behind national borders.

At a time when we need to come together with unshakable resolve to make sacrifices and seek compromise to tame global warming, the most powerful nation on the planet has chosen a leader who declares that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China to undermine the US economy. He plans to appoint a well-known global warming skeptic as head of the US Environmental Protection Agency. From there it just gets worse.

The might of the white right has come of age and it will take the reins of power in January. There will be no subtlety about the path we are now on. Welcome to a world where you only eat what you kill. The age of speaking softly and carrying a big stick is dead and gone. Come January, the mantra emanating from the White House will be to bellow loudly and swing a spiked club.

Brace yourselves.

21 comments:

  1. David, I am still shellshocked although not really surprised, given the deep rift dividing the country. At least we all have undeniable proof that the system is not rigged, and democracy works (even when in its worst ways). I hope that now both sides will find a peaceful way to work out their issues, and to unify the country without burning the whole world in the process.

    Meanwhile the Canadian immigration website crashed... I guess people with ethnic background, women, handicapped, veterans and people with other stigmas might have to seek asylum at their Northern neighbour.

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  2. Sonja that is very ironic.

    One thing I noticed on the republican side of the divide, was that in many, many cases, there didn't seem to be any appreciation for the irony rampant in the Trump campaign, from Trump accusing others of the very things he was most guilty of, to Melania declaring that as first lady, she planned to campaign to end online bullying.

    As for our immigration website crashing, it is more likely the Chinese or Russians trying to apply further pressure on America by keeping dissidents in the US where they can suffer and torment their fellows.

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  3. Cathy Duval (my brilliant financial planner, and I mean that very seriously) reached out to me with reassurance that she had hedged as best she could to shelter me from the roiling financial seas.

    This is like someone throwing a watermelon into the punch bowl at a gala. We're all going to get splashed.

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  4. Everybody just take a few deep breaths......that's it. The U.S.A. proved stronger than Obama, it'll prove just as strong under Trump.

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    1. That's probably good advice Dom. Though it's not the strength of the USA that is a concern. It's how that strength is applied that is worrisome.

      Time will tell of course.

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    2. Time, does indeed tell David. Doomsday prognosticators sell doom because it draws the gullible, reality usually is something quite different and mostly boring.

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    3. One more thing, blood and violence and fear = good ratings....it's all about the ratings...it's not about the truth. You pick your bias, you watch your show.....

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  5. I didn't even watch the TV last night. Had a nice hot bath instead. I voted and that is all as a citizen I can do. No I didn't vote for Trump and I don't actually know anyone who did.

    Now we just sit back and watch........

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    1. Dianne and I lasted until 3:30 AM, saw Trump speak. He rambled. No other President rambled like that. My dad always listened to US Presidential addresses on TV. So, I actually remember seeing President Eisenhower warn about the military-industrial complex. I was 13 or so. Ended up having an engineering career in the defense industry, where I met a large number of great Americans who were universally kind to me. So, I tend to follow my father's habit of watching US politics.

      Boy, the rural folks are really, really pissed off, blue collars not much behind. IMHO, of course.

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    2. Brandy it doesn't matter who you voted for, you voted. I am amazed at the number of citizens who didn't bother to vote. In this critical election 40% of eligible voters couldn't be bothered to vote.

      Canadians are slightly more civic minded. 30% of our electorate didn't vote in our last election.

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    3. When we lived in British Columbia we used to watch US politics as well, it is a whole different experience actually living it. We've been down here 15 years (16 in January) so we have a seen a few elections and we are always so sick of hearing about it by the time the elections comes around. I understand people didn't really like either candidate but it still seems odd to me that that many chose not to vote.

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  6. There's an old expression about cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. It seems to me this is what happened yesterday. The people who voted for Trump because of promised change were sold a bill of goods by a brilliant huckster. There was no thought went into whether he actually had the legal right to do some of the things he said, whether they were practical, or even affordable. Even getting some of his initiatives past the House and the Senate may prove troublesome as not every Republican shared his scorched earth policies. It will be an interesting 4 years indeed. (And that's assuming the Electoral College all vote acording to state results in December.)

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    1. David now that Mr. Trump is president-elect, all those who are determined to play a role in the new order will flock towards him to say and do whatever is takes to play his game. Dissenters will be shunned and marginalized. That's the way it always is. When the centre of attraction is a character like Mr. Trump, the effect will be to empower him and breathe life into his initiatives, no matter how objectionable and damaging those initiatives may be.

      If his policies turn out to be destructive, the time it will take for that realization to take hold, and then for the political machine around him to react, and then the additional time it will take to apply the brakes... a lot of damage could be done.

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  7. David, do not despair. In the days of Eisenhower and Kennedy, the president had more real power than today. At least, it sure seemed that way. Maybe just influence.

    Trump will have to create a budget right away and that will likely not get passed without a lot of compromise. In order to drain that swamp, he will have to get wet and dirty and ... how well does he wrestle with alligators? With frustration? How's his heart?

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    1. Ed, this David is a little optimistic. Trump is no fool. He understands better than most how to get his way. Once he sees a path, he is unlikely to stop at any obstacle. It's possible that there is Trump the campaigner, and then Trump the president. The approach that wins the campaign is not likely to be the approach that yields success in governing. He's a fox. I bet he will shift gears. I don't think he cares much about the people who elected him. I think he won't hesitate to take a different path if it suits him. That's the problem.

      Does he really want to build the wall? Maybe if Trump Enterprises is the general contractor. Will he deport the people who are doing the jobs angry Americans don't want for themselves?

      2017 will be quite a show.

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  8. Edward - That's a real issue imo. He'll be what? 74 at the end of his term? Oldest President ever I think. I also expect his my way or the highway form of negotiating will find few supporters in either house so we'll see how/if he adapts. It'll be a rough 4 years for the good ol' US of A, but they'll survive - battered and bruised I expect, but they'll survive. In the meantime it should all be hugely entertaining, watching from afar of course.

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    1. David I agree that getting anything through Congress quickly like trying to race through a house of mirrors. A house of mirrors interspersed with those crazy tilted rooms with the furniture on the ceiling, run by evil clowns.

      Time to stockpile microwave popcorn and make sure you are set up to stream C-SPAN.

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  9. I have to agree with Dom that the United States will survive the latest election. Regardless of the campaign rhetoric, a President doesn't have unlimited power and as others have pointed out accomplishing the "simple" plans that were laid out may prove far more daunting to implement. The bureaucracy is highly resistant to change. And the people around the President have a lot of power to slow or derail executive whims and orders. One only need look at the the close of the Nixon administration and how the White House staff and the Pentagon effectively defused a lot of paranoid orders from the President.

    While I was shocked that Mr. Trump was elected, I've not enjoined the mass fears of his coming presidency. I'm hopeful that some good will emerge. A requiem doesn't seem appropriate, we've just turned the page to another chapter in a long and unfinished book...

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    1. Steve on balance I don't disagree with you or Dom. But there is no denying a wave of right wing resentment and anger sweeping the UK and the US. Canada is not immune. Kelly Leitch, one of the people vying for the leadership of the Conservative party here is hoping she can exploit the same sentiments here. Then there are the electorates in France and Germany who will be going to the polls in the near future. People there are wary of the Brexit and Trump outcomes. Will they be next dominos to fall. And then what?

      What do we say to the minority men and women being assaulted for who they are, not for anything they have done? What will be our attitude to the women who are sexually assaulted? You have Mr. Cosby, we have Mr. Ghomeshi. Mr. Trump has offered himself as an example for those who would assault and molest with impunity.

      It's not only about what Mr. Trump will do as President, but also the larger effect of the tone at the top. Good governance principles recognize the vital role that tone at the top plays in daily outcomes.

      The United States will endure just like the empires of old endured through great leaders, forgettable leaders (though Vespasian managed not to be entirely forgotten by giving Romans public restrooms), and regrettable leaders. With luck Mr. Trump will endure the fate of many before him as the weight of office bleaches his hair and ploughs furrows in his brow while grinding his legacy from an epic spire down to a statue in a niche in the Capitol (if history judges him kindly).

      In the meantime may you, Dom, and Richard enjoy the coming months as you entertain us with your epic snowbound lives on two (or three) wheels.

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  10. Trump sets the tone for Marine Le Pen and Beppe Grillo and Geert Wilders and Nigel Farage...and...which means the world will operate in ways we are not used to in our generation. As long as a bunch of straight white men are sitting around telling us Trump won't be so bad you can believe them. It's the lesser humans who will suffer. Oh well...

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    1. I just watched a riff on the recent election on YouTube that I think is the message that everyone should take very, very seriously.

      Come what may, if each of us were to take Gandhi's advice to heart and commit to being the change we would like to see in the world, and embrace our fellow humans with love and compassion, that would be the best way to make a real difference in addressing the ills we fear.

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