Some pollster last week, obviously with too much time on their hands, apparently found that 30 percent of Conservatives in Canada would, if they had the choice, vote for Donald Trump before they would vote for Justin Trudeau.
I hope that is not true. I fear that it might be.
Most people who read this column know that I consider myself a Conservative, albeit a middle of the road one. I am also no fan of the Trudeau Government.
But if that were the choice, if I were forced to choose between the leadership of Donald Trump or Justin Trudeau, I would vote for Trudeau in a heartbeat.
I am probably one of a very few people in our community who actually knew Donald Trump. Many years ago, my former firm acted for him on an issue dealing with the Government of Ontario. There are many stories to tell here, but they will have to wait for another time. What I learned from that experience, however, is that Donald Trump believed in his own brand. He believed in himself to the point that nothing else mattered. It was all about him. Everything else took second place.
I never thought that Donald Trump actually wanted to be president of the United States. I thought it was more of an ego thing, a marketing tool, a publicity stunt for the Trump organization: something he excelled at. I sometimes wonder if he was as surprised as were so many others, when he actually became president.
But it happened and it is an office for which he is totally unfit. He has an incredibly short attention span. He does not work well with others, and concepts presented to him that are contrary to his own opinion he views with suspicion. To be the least bit critical he views as disloyalty. Those who remain close to him know that. I find it fascinating to count, how many times Vice President Pence, in any speech he makes, metaphorically kisses Trump’s butt. It is the only way he can survive.
In my view, Donald Trump has the personality of a despot. He wants to be in total control. When he gets mad, he gets even. Everything else comes second, including the Constitution of the United States and his relationship with the rest of the world. It’s an obsession to the point where he sometimes speaks of himself in the third person. Have you ever heard another leader to do that? He truly believes he is the greatest. Especially in these times, that is dangerous.
Now we have the perfect storm: a pandemic, race riots, and a serious economic downturn all at the same time. And, in the United States, a leader who is more interested in his own image, his own reputation, his core supporters, and in encouraging division than he is in healing his nation or building bridges of unity and understanding not only at home but around the world.
It is in this atmosphere and context that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked last week whether he supported President Trump’s handling of the race demonstrations in the United States and, in particular, his photo op in front of a church, holding a bible, at the expense of forcibly removing and tear-gassing people who were demonstrating in a nearby park.
Instead of directly answering the question, Trudeau simply said nothing; complete silence for twenty seconds. He has been criticized for this, but it was exactly the right thing to do. It was not spontaneous. His handlers, his war room, would have known this question would come up and the strategy of silence was a deliberate one. It sent a clear message. He would do nothing to defend Trump’s actions. At the same time, he would to nothing to bring down the irrational and inevitable wrath and retribution of Trump on Canadians at a time when we least need it. I repeat, it was the right thing to do.
True leadership, in my view, unites people, it does not divide them. It heals, it does not wound, and it seeks compromise rather than rigidity. Donald Trump seems incapable of recognizing this. He appears much more comfortable in an ‘us against them’ atmosphere where ‘my way or the highway’ rules the day.
Black lives do matter, as do all lives, and I believe that a policeman in Minnesota willfully killed George Floyd, a black man, by blocking his airway for more than eight minutes. He knew what he was doing and, in my view, should be charged with first-degree murder. He was a bad cop and his actions have become a catalyst to bring out repressed anger and frustrations related to inequality and suppression, not just in the United States but also here and around the world.
The looters and the rioters were not there for George Floyd. They were there for themselves. The vast majority of these demonstrations, however, were for George Floyd and the implications of his death and they have been focused and peaceful, including the one here in Huntsville. I believe they will, in their totality, bring about needed change.
But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. All police are not bad, in fact the vast majority are not. Most really are there to serve and protect and they do put their lives on the line every day. It is very clear that some aspects of policing need to be reformed. The bad cops, the racist cops, need to be weeded out. Disciplinary action against police officers should be made public and sensitivity training, when it comes to dealing with minorities, needs to be increased. But defunding the police or getting rid of them altogether as some people are advocating, is not the answer.
Political leaders who do their best to divide and conquer are not the answer either. Someone needs to tell that to Donald Trump.
Maybe in November!
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