Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the craziest of them all? Alrighty then, so after this week’s “shock & awe” take over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and one could forgive the media for its obsessive need to point out every lie and incredibly scary feature of this man at the helm of this once great bastion of power. And, with somewhat of an obsessive need, I read subtle, and not so subtle, undertones of incredulity in those journalists words.
I say “once great” since is that not his mantra? To which time of ‘greatness’ is being referred always has been left vague, of course, leaving one to fill in whichever draconian era of greatness one prefers to drag their country back to.
I suppose maybe I see things in a slightly different light than most Canadians, being the daughter of a man who grew up in the American South. A man who, in response to me calling him a racist, informed me that his best friend in the National Guard during the mid-sixties was a black man, and that Great Grandma’s best friend was a black woman that lived next door. See, in their world, my Great Grandma couldn’t bring that BFF in the house, as the neighbours and draconian Jim Crow laws forbid it. And that best friend of my Dad’s, well he could drink with him on base, but not off. Off base, they couldn’t even go to the same bar.
My Dad’s family go back to the mid-1600’s, and in that time barely a handful left these 4 corners situated outside Greenville, North Carolina. Once well-respected tobacco farmers, with some wealthier branches of the family owning slaves, they could be called today southern rural middle class.
And my Dad voted for Trump. A humble middle-class retiree, living back home again on his Canadian pension, lives once again near those 4 corners those Carolina ancestors farmed and is married to the sweetest woman, and actually, has a good life.
Yet, this illustrates just one of this 45th’s supporters complicated backstory. I’ve been thinking about my Dad lately, and his ideals, who he is, what he thinks, and I am beginning to wonder about a few things. One of them is that maybe liberal media has completely underestimated this man who now leads the free world.
In truth, my fondest memories are of my Dad’s ability to turn my naive notions on their head, though. So as the years have progressed, while I may not always understand this quiet man of seeming little emotion who raised me, I love my Dad and he is no longer my enemy. I mean, seriously, I’ve grown up. Plus, things are never as simple as what our youthful idealism sees.
But I digress because none of that is in fact of any consequence, other than to point out that my Dad is not special, or especially racist, or hateful, and he’s certainly not dumb.
Which, I suppose, also helps me to sometimes listen more closely to those who I may disagree with.
Still, how in the hell did this man get this sort of power?
Well, one way was sticking it to the bullish liberal media (as they see it), shoving their political correctness and elitist culture down the throats of those who are barely scraping together a living, little lone worried about the fate of the Middle East, or refugees that they think somehow threaten their way of life. Not an uncommon reaction of a people who feel they have no voice, and who are struggling to make a living. Blame ‘the other’, a sentiment as old as humanity.
And here comes the 45th, giving the finger to all the greedy suits in their capital, and being the poster boy for everything ANTI-Politics, as this article from the Washington Post asserts. And a lot of people go “YEAH…more of that”. In this age of reality TV and vapid adoration of convenient lies, their ignorance towards some inconvenient truths, and it is surely no surprise many are so enamored with this man. He spouts what they want to hear.
In fact, giving the finger to Washington is basically as much as what my Dad found appealing about him, back in the fall of 2015 when Trump had a “pie-in-the-sky” chance.
However, let us think about this first week and the grand and sweeping and disturbing actions of the 45th leader of that once great nation. All the brash statements, of walls, and deportations, and one wonders how that grand lady in New York harbour feels about all this. We have park rangers defying their government and impromptu mass protests springing to life against a decree that gives the bird to the values that once made America great.
So what is the 45th up to? It has always struck me that Trump never seemed to be overly concerned about the welfare of anyone but himself. That he even HAD an opinion on abortion or anything beyond the all mighty dollar, actually, surprises me. See, I underestimated him I now recognize. For, underneath does reside a man who, while not care so much for issues, does, in fact, care very much about something other than money, ie. POWER.
Ah, yes, the almighty beast of power. The ultimate demon that some believed could corrupt us all, given half a chance. For once one has worn the mantle of power, donned the ring as it were, it is a strong human that can resist its appeal. For appealing it is.
The acquiring of power is neatly laid out by Sun Tzu in “The Art of War”. In one portion it states on how to guarantee the strength of your army, of cutting the throats of those Generals who do not carry out your wishes, who stand in offense to your commands, and with one swift sweep of the sword, guarantee the loyalty of the next set you promote to that station of command. And, once stationed, once confidence in their loyalty is achieved these leaders are given the ability to TRULY lead, and not merely follow.
“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put a division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I look around and see the incredible damage this man could wreck, the war he could start, lives affected.
The man has a weakness, an Achilles heal, and that is his fixation on his own popularity. If the winds of change went the other way, if the loudest voices and the sheer volume of the din of dissatisfaction and disapproval grew loud enough, one can slowly chisel away at that weakness, and make it work to one’s favour. No?
Yet, one must not forget that this 45th President of The United States of America was elected. One can widdle away at the details, the numbers, but there is a fair number of those out there who agree with this man, and THAT is actually more of an issue. Our friends, our families, our neighbours, feel this man is doing just things, and that these actions are necessary. And, no wonder, for a people that have been force fed anti-Muslim propaganda since the days after 9/11, adding to that the housing crash, and lost jobs to various manufacturing being sent overseas, and whole industries vanishing from landscapes that once relied on them.
The times they are changing.
Friends who visited the U.S. during the election campaign noted how stark the contrast was to Clinton signs in the Urban areas, and Trump in the rural areas.
We can’t just sweep these people under the carpet and call it a day. Even if Trump is ousted from power, the supporters who elected him still remain.
So, what can we do?
Well, first off, let me be honest, I am not by nature an activist. I don’t often wade into the political quagmire in my writing. This last week though I’ve been paralyzed, and unable to write anything, as I’ve been so wrapped up in my emotions as day after day more campaign promises come to fruition. I felt numb at what I saw as a madman at the helm of the place of my birth. A man who my Dad and Step-Mom voted for.
Then Sunday the attack on the Mosque in Quebec City, and today I find out it was this Christian white french kid.
It is interesting how such simple acts though can have such a different significance. Simple acts of kindness, compassion.
So yesterday I am sitting in the bus shelter, all engrossed in this game of Solitaire, and my feet are killing me, been up since 3 am, and going home after a full 8-hour shift. Sucks walking around all day on concrete. Anywho, so I sense some people come into the shelter. A minute or so goes by before I look up, as this voice says “are they twins”? And the man says, “no, they are 3 and 4”. So I look up and see this young family, the woman has a baby all cradling snugly in her arms sitting beside me. So I immediately get up and step just outside the shelter, and the one little boy marches right over and hops up on the bench, leaning into his Mom, looking at the baby in her arms (the Father had the other resting on his hip). The man says “no, you sit down, please”. I smiled, and said, “no worries, see, he wants to sit by his Mom”. He smiled, said thank you, and nodded. This is the point I misted up and turned to see if the bus was coming. Any other day, wouldn’t have meant a thing, today it did. And I am angry that it did. I could see that it meant something to the man too, by the look in his eyes. They were Muslim.
It was all I could think about when I got home. I’ve not really said very much to anyone on how I feel about everything that transpired this week in the States. I think many people have been in a little bit of shock. And the blatant and aggressive comments from Trump supports, and now this act of terror in Quebec City.
I posted the above on my Facebook page, and minutes later a string of likes and loves and comments streamed in. My sister even called me, and we talked about all this. Her thoughts mirror my own “I have been quiet on this issue as I do not want to judge anyone’s point of view due to their faith or thoughts on how things should be …. to be honest, I am let down with humanity of late….however, what we do in our everyday life will have a great ripple effect”.
Sometimes it is these simple and sincere gestures of solidarity, compassion, and empathy that in the end make the most difference. One can not successfully, and for the long term, combat hate with more hate. Like a butterflies wings, those ripples sweep through the good, the bad, and the ugly, and maybe give back to this cold world “some of it’s lost heart”.