Monday, May 16, 2016

Smart Canucks warn their country to brace for a Trump win

Derek H. Burney and Fen Osler Hampson are not the real names of the guys who play arch-hosers Bob and Doug McKenzie on much-missed SCTV. They are most unhoserlike. Mr. Burney was Canada’s ambassador to the United States from 1989-1993, during the reign of Bush I. Mr. Hampson is a distinguished fellow [a title, not necessarily a description. Ed.] and director of Global Security at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. He is also Chancellor’s Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Messrs Burney and Hampson the authors of Brave New Canada: Meeting the Challenge of a Changing World (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014). They've also written an op-ed piece in The Globe and Mail in which they give some timely advice to their fellow Canucks under the headline: "Brace yourselves: Trump is going to win". Walt will skip the advice and repost the explanation for their contrarian prediction.

Canadians and our media have watched U.S. primary season with a mixture of incredulity, disbelief, horror and smugness. The conventional wisdom here, as well as among most American pundits, is that Donald Trump doesn’t stand a chance of winning the presidency and that the Democrats will retake the White House under Hillary Clinton.

The problem is that the conventional wisdom has been consistently wrong since last June. Many thought Mr. Trump would implode during the Republican primary. He didn’t. Many thought his reality-TV-show persona and foul-mouthed campaign style would eventually wear thin with voters. It hasn’t. 

Many thought – and still do – that his lack of policy substance and multiple about-faces – if not downright contradictions – on hot-button issues like abortion, Muslims and Mexican migrants would doom his campaign with Americans, who generally tend to have a strong sense of fair play and public decorum. That, too, hasn’t happened. Meanwhile the FBI investigation of Ms. Clinton’s personal e-mail accounts is ongoing and Vice-President Joe Biden is back on TV stating that he would be the best candidate.

What many fail to recognize is that Donald Trump is rewriting the rules of American politics with his take-no-prisoners, earned-rather-than-paid media campaign for the U.S. presidency. He is riding a tidal wave of profound dissatisfaction among ordinary American voters (and not just aging, white, middle-aged males, for that matter) that is driven by a volatile mix of xenophobic nationalism, falling wages and living standards for the middle and lower classes, a yawning and ever-widening gap between rich and poor, and an acute sense that America under President Barack Obama has taken a backseat role in world affairs, has mismanaged major issues and is no longer the leading great power it once was.

Donald Trump understands the angry mood of America better than his Washington-based Republicans, which is why he is the last man standing. Only Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders rivals Mr. Trump with his intuitive grasp of America’s state of mind and that is why he is giving Hillary Clinton such an unexpected run for her money.

America’s political establishment, including those in the media, are widely seen as being out of the touch and arrogant and self-serving, which is why Mr. Trump’s “outsider” appeal has traction. If there were any lingering doubts, consider the extraordinary confession in the New York Times Magazine by Obama confidant, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. Mr. Rhodes openly bragged about lying about timelines in the Iranian nuclear deal to reporters while feeding their more inexperienced colleagues with stories to create, in his words, “an echo chamber” so that the public would support the deal. Talk about hubris! 

A just released Reuters online poll puts the race between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump as neck and neck. That is just one poll and a lot can happen between now and November. But Canadians and their government should nevertheless ready themselves for the possibility of a Trump presidency. Prudence is anticipating the worst before it happens and readying yourself for the consequences.

Indeed.... The emphasis above is mine. And, as Donald Trump said to David Cameron, I'm not stupid -- far from it. I'm taking bets now on The Donald plus three points. That is, if Mr. Trump wins, or loses to Hellery Clinton by 3% of the popular vote or less, I win. Send your name and credit card details to the usual address. I won't debit your card until after the votes are counted!

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