I spent the better part of the weekend watching the media beat up Donald Trump for inciting violence at his rallies. Wallowing in bad news is something I do; I did it with Hurricane Katrina; I did it with the Boston Marathon bombing; and I’ve done it with every mass shooting in the last ten years. Wallowing feeds my anxiety about the human race and it’s ability to sustain itself; it plays into my secret narrative that humanity is going the way of the Dodo.
There’s a part of me that believes calmer heads will prevail and Donald Trump will either lose the Republican nomination or the general election. What scares me though is the Republicans have gerrymandered the voting districts to such an extent, and passed so many voter suppression laws that he could actually become president. It’s the novel Kurt Vonnegut didn’t have time to write.
The Canadian Federal election was pretty intense—the most intense I’ve ever seen. The polls were all over the place; there were so many missteps by all the candidates it was hard to tell which way the wind would blow.
In my heart of hearts I felt there was no way Harper could get re-elected; he had scorched the economy, sold our sovereignty to the lowest bidder, and become so polarizing, it felt like the country was coming apart at the seems. I literally stopped watching CBC’s The National just so I wouldn’t have to hear his voice.
For a while there, it looked like Harper’s chickens had come to roost. The photo of a dead Syrian boy washed up on the shore came to light, and then it was discovered the boy’s parents had applied for and been denied asylum in Canada. It was like the country got it’s soul back and we tool a long look at ourselves as a nation and decided this wouldn’t do.
But then the pendulum swung again back in Harper’s court. His government sued to prevent a woman from wearing a Hijab at her citizenship ceremony and then he proposed a tip line for “Barbaric Cultural Practices” and it was like that poor child had died for nothing. Some how, some way, Harper and his team had touched upon our greatest fears and our worst prejudices and seized the baton again.
I knew we were in real trouble when I was discussing the election with my sister, who is a devout Catholic but no fan of Harper, and she said, “Those women in their burkas make me nervous.”
“Drunk white guys after a hockey game make me more nervous,” I told her. It helped her put things in perspective, but I don’t know if I changed her mind.
I didn’t vote for Trudeau—I live in an NDP stronghold—but I’m glad he won. The selfie thing is becoming a little trying, but I realize he has his work cut out for him rebuilding the country. I’m skeptical, and nervous about the future of my country, but at the same time, I’m relieved that Trudeau and his party aren’t making knee-jerk reactions and looking for quick wins. I’m in it for the long haul.
What I appreciate most about Trudeau however, is he’s not out there inciting anger. He’s not acting like a know-it-all. He reminds me of myself when I start a new job: a little over my head but trying hard to learn what I don’t know.
I still believe calmer heads will prevail in the US, but this election is like a powder keg waiting to explode and someone needs to diffuse it. The Canadian election was only 72 days long and it was gruelling to sit through. I can’t imaging what another 8 months of this is going to take on the American psyche, much less humanity as a whole. I just hope some poor kid doesn’t have to wash up on some shore for people to get their shit together and figure out what’s important.