Trumpians in Canada

The Federalist is a conservative website ~ not especially pro-Trump ~ which has been described as being a bridge between the “deep” scholastic journals (like Foreign Affairs) and social media; it is said to provide serious commentary that is authored by young, media-savvy writers.

Mark Hemingway, who is an editor at The Federalist, explains in a recent article, why America, and Britain and Canada, too, misunderstand the current, Trumpian, populist wave. First, he explains that “the phrase “regulative fiction” is borrowed from Nietzsche, or at least his translator,” and that matters because “regulative fiction” is, he says, in the words of one of his friends, based on the notion that “the professional class / deep state / neoliberal order / whatever-you-want-to-call-it is fluent in a language that imposes a kind of regulative fiction on that chaos. Their fluency gives them a patina of legitimacy and not a little power over the less fluent, which comforts some normies but also drives conspiratorial thinking. Trump and a lot of the people around him lack this fluency and have no interest in cultivating it.” He’s talking about the bureaucracy, many of the think tanks which are, often, “holding tanks” for out of office politicians, the mainstream media editorial boards and groups like the Council of Foreign Relations.

He explains that “voters in no small part voted for Trump because they were sick of being told rosy stories about how the government operates. A part of Trump’s appeal is that he’s almost psychologically incapable of varnishing things and unafraid to utter coarse truths that roil the establishment. He’s upended discussions of trade and foreign policy, topics where the D.C. consensus was 106019313-1563200705311rts2lz47notoriously effective at shutting out dissenting voices, regardless of whether they were more aligned with voter sentiment.” He agrees that the idea of “Trump-the-truth-teller is a bit at odds with his monumental self-regard. But even when he puts his own absurd egotistical spin on events, it’s so obviously hyperbolic that it heightens the contradictions.” And he explains, and this, I believe, is the key point, that, voters came to the Trump Party before it even existed. They were fed up with “regulative fiction” in the 1990s and 2000s. They rejected the Bush clan and Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton and Donald J Trump was all that was left.

President Trump didn’t create a movement; he just climbed aboard one that already gaining HUGE momentum. In his own, somewhat “honest” (unvarnished) way he gave voice to the people’s fears.

I have some friends who are supporters of the Trump Party (both in Canada and in the USA, even though it doesn’t really exist (and yes, that’s true, just as I have friends who are members of the Liberal Party of Canada) and they were Trumpians before they ever heard of Donald Trump. They were tired of the “regulative fiction” when Pierre Trudeau used it, here in Canada, in the 1970s and when Bill Clinton used it in the 1990s and, equally, when Tony Blair used in it Britain in the 2000s. My friends would all reject the notion that they are racists, anti-immigrant or anti-much-of-anything ~ but they are annoyed at the progressive insistence that they must, for example, see Merry Christmas replaced by Happy holidays, and, to be honest, so am I! (Happy holidays doesn’t offend Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 13.12.32me, but being told that I cannot should not say Merry Christmas does.) My Trumpian friends see themselves, in a way, like Archie Bunker when he sangMister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.” They actually understand that Herbert Hoover stood against the all-encompassing nanny state and stood FOR self-reliance, doing one’s full share for volunteerism and cooperation and communitarianism. They are the antithesis of Justin Trudeau’s brand of Liberalism; some, I am sure, supported Maxime Bernier’s (failed) People’s Party of Canada, not because he is a racist but because he is the least progressive of all the well known Canadian politicians.

But populists, like social conservatives, are a minority in Canada.

Canada is much more progressive ~ in both the healthy and unhealthy senses of that word ~ and far less conservative than is America. While a lot of things flow, freely, over the border, including social mores, political attitudes seem to flow less easily than others. There are Canadian Trumpians, maybe as many as 500,000 of them if we extrapolate Maxime Bernier’s party’s support to the national level. Being a Trumpian does not make one a supporter of Wexit, and being a Western separatist does not make one a Trumpian, but I suspect the two groups might make common cause for a wee bit, to Ottawa’s (and Canada’s) discomfort.

Justin Trudeau inherited a pretty cohesive country from Stephen Harper. Not united, but far less divided than, say, America or Britain. That has changed in four short years. It’s not ALL Trudeau’s fault, but most of the divisions that have grown on his watch were preventable. Now we have two parallel phenomena: Trumpism and Western separatism on the rise at the same time and Justin Trudeau has fuelled them both.

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