In a recent editorial, dated 15 July 2019, the Globe and Mail‘s editorial board says, and I agree, that “Donald Trump is a racist. Or at the very least, he’s an exceedingly faithful re-enactor of some of history’s worst racist tropes. The President of the United States proved that once again on Sunday, when he took to Twitter to go after four Democratic Congresswomen known as the Squad, saying that instead of telling Americans “how our government is to be run,” they should “go back” to the “complete and total catastrophe” countries they come from … [and, the editorial writers add] … It’s barely worth mentioning that three of the four were born in the United States. The suggestion that a group of American members of Congress are not Americans is a new low, even for Mr. Trump.“
Now, I have scant regard for President Trump, but I even less for the four members of the US House of Representatives, known as “the Squad,” who he slandered, so why even bother to comment? There’s nothing new in suggesting that Donald J Trump is a racist or a sympathizer, is there?
But the Globe and Mail suggests, and I agree, that is not the real story. “There is a war within the Democratic Party,” the editorial says, “and Mr. Trump is taking sides. Being public enemy No. 1 gives him the power to influence whom the party chooses as it leaders and what policies it embraces and emphasizes … [and] … for all the depths he plumbs, the 45th President is more than just another raging Twitter troll. He’s a politician of low cunning with his eye on 2020. He understands how to use incendiary messages to goad his opponents and boost his slim chances of re-election. His Sunday Twitter outburst, and another on Monday, were aimed at helping rivals he’s very happy to have, and who he hopes will prosper.” The only point with which I would take issue is that I do not believe that President Trump’s chances of being re-elected are “slim,” in fact I think they are quite good, even likely, and I think this Democratic Party’s civil war enhances them even more. President Trump may be “public enemy No. 1,” for the Democrats but he is much admired and supported by tens, even hundreds of millions of Americans.
The editorial explains that “The Democratic civil war is between the moderates, led by veteran Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and the left-wing, whose most prominent members are newly elected Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota – the Squad … [and] … Mr. Trump wants the Squad to get as much oxygen as possible. He thinks they’re further from the mainstream and less likely to appeal to swing voters than Ms. Pelosi, and he’s right.” I agree with all of that.
The Globe and Mail says, and, again I think they are right, that “This line of attack will be a centrepiece of the Republican campaign over the coming months. The message: The new Democrats are scary and radical, and pushing an agenda most Americans don’t share. Be safe, vote Republican … [and] … The question is whether Democrats will play into that Republican story. Led by Ms. Pelosi, the party made big gains in last fall’s midterm elections. They did it by focusing on bread-and-butter issues for voters in districts that narrowly went Republican in 2016, with an emphasis on health care … [thus, the editorial board explains] … Ms. Pelosi’s plan is not about winning Berkeley or Brooklyn; Democrats already win there. It’s about winning swing states and districts that swung for Mr. Trump in 2016 – which tend to be rural or suburban, working-class and fairly white … [but] … What does Mr. Trump want to talk about? Immigration. What does he want Democrats to talk about? Immigration … [and, right on cue] … Several candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have come out in favour of decriminalizing illegal border crossings, or offering free health care to people not legally in the country. These are not crazy policies, but they’re not what the Democratic Party needs to be focusing on – since they’re what Republicans want to run against. Mr. Trump will be telling swing voters that he’s on “their” side, while the other party is looking out for someone else.“
The Good Grey Globe concludes that “Mr. Trump is eminently beatable in 2020,” maybe that true, but I think there is some wishful thinking in the word “eminently,” which suggests easily. “But,” the editorial adds, correctly, this time, that “there are Democrats he can defeat, and he knows it.” My guess is that there are enough Democrats that can be defeated to restore the House of Representatives to Republican (Trump Party) control in 2020.
This, I think, is the key point: President Trump is “a politician of low cunning with his eye on 2020. He understands how to use incendiary messages to goad his opponents and boost his slim chances of re-election. His Sunday Twitter outburst, and another on Monday, were aimed at helping rivals he’s very happy to have, and who he hopes will prosper.” It’s crude but effective politics. The issue is not racism or even his crudeness, it is about policy choices. President Trump is, as I said before he was elected, a nativist, a throwback to the 19th century ‘Know Nothing‘ movement in the USA … and many Americans prefer Donald Trump’s policy choices to those of “the Squad.”
Prime Minister Trudeau has, already and foolishly, given in to temptation and commented on President Trump’s comments. That was another policy blunder, one which, I presume, was “passed” by our stunningly inept foreign minister. This is not a thing about which many Americans will welcome foreign comment. It doesn’t matter that Justin Trudeau stopped short of calling President Trump a racist; he implied that the US chief executive was on the wrong side of an issue. Many Americans ~ even those who might, privately agree ~ do not like hearing that sort of things from the leaders of fourth-rate foreign powers … in that they are very, very like the Chinese.
If I am right (and it’s always a Big IF, isn’t it?), and if the USA is ready to re-elect President Donald Trump and maybe even restore the House to Republican control, then Canada cannot afford to keep Justin Trudeau. He may have looked like the “change” that many Canadians wanted in 2015 ~ a “change” away from nine years of cautious incrementalism, a “change” back towards left-wing “progressivism,” but he has proven to be a bungler on almost every file he has touched (except for feminism* and decriminalizing the possession and use of cannabis), especially on advancing Canada’s vital interests in the world. It’s time for an adult to move into 24 Sussex Drive … after it’s renovated. This is “inside the beltway,” domestic US politics; the US Congress is dealing with it, as it should; and smart foreign leaders stay out of it … but Justin Trudeau, who is anything but smart, could not resist some virtue signalling to his base. I suspect President Trump will not forget nor forgive, and, sooner or later, Canada will, likely, pay a price for Prime Minister Trudeau’s immaturity.
* And I, personally, commend him for his commitment to the feminist agenda, that’s overdue in Canada, even if his implementation has been weak.