Trump is the latest U.S. insanity case - Keith Roulston editorial
It’s almost impossible, if you follow current events, to ignore the history being made south of the border with the charging of a past-president Donald Trump with illegal attempts to keep the current President Joe Biden from taking the office in 2021.
American politics usually are more dramatic than things on this side of the border. I can remember only one time when things were more dramatic in Canada: on the occasion of the 1970 October Crisis in Quebec when the FLQ militant Quebec independence movement, after carrying out more than 200 bombings and killing six people over the previous decade, kidnapped British trade commissioner James Cross and then kidnapped and subsequently murdered Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte in October 1970.
I was the young editor of the Clinton News-Record at the time, only a year out of university. Part of my duty was covering the closure of the former Royal Canadian Air Force base south of Clinton (now Vanastra). I had become accustomed to slowing down and giving a simple wave at the guardhouse at the entrance to the base, but with new federal restrictions orders, I was stopped and my identity and purpose confirmed, before I was allowed to enter.
But in a few weeks, things returned to normal. South of the border there were regular protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam, which had been promoted by Democratic U.S. Presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnston as an effort to stop the spread of Communism. Ironically, it had been a Republican, Richard Nixon, who, in 1975, ended the war.
In the meantime, investigations into Nixon’s illegal attempts to influence American voters in the election of 1968 were ongoing in the Washington Post and New York Times and, finally, staffers at the newspapers dug up enough evidence that Nixon faced an attempt to impeach him. When it became obvious that Republican leaders were prepared to support impeachment, Nixon resigned, after getting a promise from his Vice-President Gerald Ford, that he would issue a pardon to halt the impeachment process.
Prior to that crisis, there was the ongoing anti-Communist campaign led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s, when I was still a child. Movies like Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston, show how Hollywood writers, seeking a fairer world in the 1930s and during World War II, foolishly supported Communism, but were persecuted and sent to jail under McCarthy’s rule. Trumbo spent 11 months in jail and when he was released wasn’t allowed to work at major studios, but he and other writers used their skills, borrowing the names of others. When his movie Roman Holiday won the Academy Award for best screenplay in 1953, the prize was given to a writer who could officially accept it. Only later, when the paranoia lifted, could Trumbo accept the award he had earned.
Now, we’re back in another era of American paranoia when Trump claims that he actually won the 2020 election that installed Biden as president. Having made an early declaration that he will be a candidate for president in the 2024 presidential election, Trump claims that Biden is attempting to sideline him by conducting persecution against him, with more than 100 charges so far for breaking the law and, more likely, for his attempt to interfere with the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, which he lost by a relatively small margin. Biden hardly says a word about the charges filed by independent prosecutor Jack Smith.
According to Trump, Smith is a “deranged, sick man”. Trump claimed there is no way he could get a fair trial from District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who will hear his case, because she was appointed by President Barack Obama. What’s more, he challenged last week, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!”
And despite his legal problems, Trump continues to be popular with Republican voters eligible for the 2024 election. According to an NBC poll, a whopping two-thirds of Republican primary voters say they stand behind him and dismiss concerns about his electability. Ironically, the more charges against him, the higher his popularity seems to grow.
As mentioned earlier, sometimes voters in the west’s leading democracy go off on these frightening diversions. What’s frightening about Trump is that he promises to change the rules governing his country if he is re-elected. Since, in the past, he has shown admiration for dictators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un while downplaying democratic leaders like Canada’s Justin Trudeau, one wonders what a Trump-dominated America might become.
Hopefully someday sanity will return south of the border. If it does, one wonders how many Trump supporters will forget they once backed a crazed would-be dictator.