BE CAUTIOUS ON TRUMP
Backing president may backfire
Donald Trump is a disgusting human being, a stain on conservatism and a blight on the body politic. So why are so many Canadian conservatives Trump supporters?
A recent survey found that 25 per cent of Canadians expressed “confidence” in the U.S. president. And while the survey didn’t disclose the domestic preference of those giving thumbs up to Trump, it’s a safe bet they don’t dig Justin Trudeau (or Jagmeet Singh, if they’ve heard of him).
Which would put them into either Andrew Scheer or Maxime Bernier’s camps. But what do they, as conservatives, like about the Trump offer?
Is it the overt racism, such as when Trump recently called Andrew Gillum — the black candidate for the Florida governorship — a “thief” despite no evidence whatsoever of criminal behaviour?
Or is it the succour Trump gave to white nationalists in the wake of last year’s Charlottesville marches, in which the president found good people on “both sides” of the issue, despite one side chanting blatantly anti-Semitic slogans?
Or perhaps it’s Trump’s remarkable ability to make everything — even the strafing of elderly Jews in their house of worship by a radicalized white extremist — about him?
Maybe it’s how Trump chooses to inflame, rather than calm, issues such as immigration, as demonstrated by his weeks-long pre-mid-term bonanza about the migrant “caravans”?
Then again, it could be how Trump shows absolutely no understanding or respect for the institutions he’s meant to steward and safeguard, as evidenced by his musings on unilaterally ending birthright citizenship over the objection of the U.S. Constitution.
And then there’s Trump the man. A shameless liar. A bully. A bad husband and worse businessman. What principled small-c conservative would want to taint themselves with Trump’s association?
One suspects most have “confidence” in Trump for none of these baser reasons, that the president’s boorishness is something to be endured because the alternative would be worse. In other words, it’s nothing more than a general affinity for Republicans over Democrats.
Others support the president because he cares about “their” issues — such as immigration — even if the president demonstrates absolutely no care in how he handles them.
These people might not like everything about the president, but they applaud his courage in raising the issues they feel others obscure.
For others, however, their Trump worship is absolutely contingent on Trump being a wrecking ball, and on Trump triggering the “elites,” particularly those in the hated media. As long as Trump makes this crowd angry, whatever he’s doing must be OK.
But at some point, form has to matter. And that time is now for Canadian conservatives.
Because Trump has swallowed the Republican Party whole.
It is no longer the party of Reagan, Eisenhower or Lincoln. It is no longer polite company. Trump calls the rancid tune and the GOP dances. Period.
Canada’s problems aren’t the U.S.’s problems, at least not to the same degree. Nor is the way Trump talks of the issues conservatives are worried about designed to produce a solution. Trump’s sole tactic is to demonize the other and to widen the splits in society. It cannot be endorsed.
And the way Trump treats the press is an acid attack on democracy. It’s corrosive and it’s meant to increase cynicism and mistrust, so that no one can hold him to account. The press is a long way from perfect, but its role is foundational in checking power. To throw it away is to invite abuse when the other side next takes power.
So in other words, 25-per-centers, whatever it is you think you’re supporting, you’re not.
And if you actually do support this president and his awful warts, you’re putting yourself with an electorally insufficient percentage of Canadians. And with an election rolling around next year, that’s not a good place to be. Especially not when the issues at play shade into Trump territory.
Canadian conservatives need to recognize that giving a thumbs up to Trump, whether tacitly or explicitly, actually makes it harder, not easier, to tackle problems such as illegal migration across our shared border.
It makes opposition to Trudeau’s planned immigration increases on economic grounds trickier, not straightforward.
Trump taints everything, such is his power.
That’s why Justin Trudeau is trying so hard to shove his opponents down a Trumpian path.
Conservatives tolerating or aping Trump give Trudeau the rope with which to hang them.
Scheer should instead let Bernier hoover up the true MAGA crowd and focus on chipping away at Trudeau’s right (i.e. centre) flank.
He should follow Jason Kenney’s example and disassociate from anyone who claims to act in his movement’s name by aping Trump’s worst impulses.
The challenges facing Canada are too serious to get shunted into a pointless debate over a populism that isn’t inherent in Canada, and their salesman, who is as popular here as third place.
U.S. President Donald Trump smiles during a discussion in the White House. A recent survey found 25 per cent of Canadians expressed “confidence” in the U.S. president.