An interminable flu kept me indoors watching more television than usual and I can happily say the experience left me prouder than ever to be Canadian.
Watching too many Donald Trump cartoons makes one wonder, once again, how bad things can get in the United States. That is based on simple mathematics. The U.S. president’s base support is 30 per cent and you have to ask how healthy the U.S. can be when almost a third of the population thinks and talks like Trump.
They say that themselves. When Trump went far too far with his racist talk they defended the president by saying that’s how real people talk in the local bar. These are the very people candidate Hilary Clinton placed in her “basket of deplorables,” and although she still regrets saying it, her remark still resonates.
To now see so many Americans support the daily diet of lies and racist outrage can’t be encouraging – and to see the Trump television network, Fox News, perpetuate the lies while defending the outrage is another sign of the degree of depravity. It is so difficult to see how any fair-minded person can respect and support a political leader who lies about everything. Big lies and little lies, there is no end to them, no end to the loss of decency.
Getting back to my flu and the television I incessantly watched, my takeaway was that so many people are openly questioning the mental health of the president. To be that ‘out there,’ against the power and prestige of the presidency, shows how some serious people fear the Trump presidency. What a strain on the entire U.S. government. It has become a high wire act with danger signs flashing everywhere.
One day in the midst of the Trump drama, my channel surfing brought me to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosting a town hall meeting in Hamilton. After absorbing all the Trump coverage, watching the Trudeau town hall was like being on another planet. There was so much that caught my attention.
Trump would never subject himself to a town hall because he lacks the grace under fire that is required. It is no easy feat, in an unscripted environment, to face the risk of spontaneously saying something that can turn out hauntingly wrong.
Trudeau deals with a live audience of citizens and their questions with ease. To like or not like his policies and his manner of governing is a choice, but even detractors have to give the prime minister his due. He is gracefully articulate and he shines in a room filled with people.
The hundreds of people in that Hamilton gymnasium were a cross-section of gender, age, race and religion. They were the very essence of what Canada is in the world: one of the great shining examples of pluralism, tolerance, and hope.
When the audience was shown on television, either beside or behind the prime minister, each visual showed Muslim Canadians, many in colourful hijabs, sitting beside Asian Canadians, African Canadians, South Asian Canadians, and Caucasians.
These Canadians didn’t sit in groups. There was no clustering. Everyone sat together sharing the experience of having the prime minister so accessible to them. There were some unforgettable moments.
One person asked the prime minister why security was so lax, why no one had to pass through a metal detector. Trudeau said the RCMP decides on security matters and that he had full confidence in the force. That was the right and only answer. A nice touch was when Trudeau added how he felt completely comfortable in a room filled with Canadians.
Then there was an older white man, probably a 70-year-old baby boomer. He thanked the prime minister for legalizing marijuana. He told Trudeau that Canada will be a cooler, calmer, and more peaceful with legalization. He didn’t say it, but you had the sense the man never dreamed he would see legalization in his lifetime.
Then there was, I think a man, wearing a sleeveless dress with heavily muscled hairy arms, long hair and long earrings. When he got up to ask his question at least 20 people could be seen on screen behind him. Nobody flinched, nobody snickered, and nobody reacted to this person’s appearance.
Tolerant is something Donald Trump and his supporters will never be.