It was a joke that is now anything but. All through September, people were beginning to think Donald Trump could be the next president of the United States. What did that say about everything we have believed in, everything we thought was right, truthful and respectful?
I kept seeing the experts on TV, people who have been around politics all their lives, trying to explain what is happening, and they couldn’t. They were baffled, not being able to believe what they continued to hear from a man who knows no boundaries when it comes to decency.
Into October and the debates, there appears to be more of a reckoning of how ill-suited Donald Trump is for the presidency – but there he is, knocking on the door, either because of himself, or despite himself. It is one thing for American voters to be disappointed in the political process, but to support Trump as a remedy is chilling.
Whatever the final election result, it doesn’t matter anymore. Too much has happened. Too much has been allowed to happen to stop one unassailable fact. Our American neighbours live in a different world than they did not even a year-and-a-half ago.
Many people, either conveniently or subconsciously, forget that, when this outrage began with the labelling of Mexicans as “drug dealers and rapists,” NBC announced the network would sever its relationship with Trump. Macy’s Department Store ended its commercial relationship as well. But, in the corporate world, NBC and Macy’s stand virtually alone.
There was something about this bombastic man with yellow hair that got Americans thinking. Love him or hate him, he got their attention with an innate ability to communicate and brand his message better than anyone in politics before him. The star of reality TV turned out to know more than the highly paid communications experts who would have earnestly told him not to do 85 per cent of what he does.
Trump understands that, in today’s world, most unfortunately, a political leader has 15 seconds to make a lasting case for an idea, and, dare I say it, a policy. So much political debate is reduced to who gets there the fastest with the most memorable way of saying it.
Hillary Clinton is a slow and plodding policy framer who likes to give detailed programmed answers that fall flat in today’s world of quick fixes. Sadly, being thoughtful in politics too often results in a negative, and we know that has been a problem in western democracies, including Canada, dating back to the 1980s.
Trump didn’t invent this world of political one-liners, but he perfected it and, win or lose, he has expanded the rule book so that, now, anything goes. Convention is a word that smells bad.
By convention, in western democracies, telling the truth in politics was a guiding principal, at least that is what political leaders tried to do most of the time. They actually worried about being caught out on a lie. Imagine that.
Trump has told so many lies that they just seem to drown each other out until they all become meaningless. So many lies, too many to keep track of, and that is how life and political rhetoric go on. Perhaps he would be more accountable for his lies if his opponent was more truthful, but Clinton’s own issues with the truth have made it a race to the bottom on credibility.
As shocking as it is, there is a feeling that what is happening actually accurately reflects where we are with reality and all-news TV setting up the parameters and fault lines for social media to follow. They all fuel each other and the high octane mix made it possible for Trump to make it as far as he has.
The candidate who won’t release a tax return, who discusses his medical status on TV with Dr. Oz, could be the next president of the United States.
If Trump has proven anything to this point, it is that tradition, convention and decency hang by a thread.