The death of couth
Sandy Bay, November 7: Picked the last three zucchini squashes and planted garlic for next year. The wheel of life keeps turning despite upheavals south of the border.
In the long run – should there be a long run – what will this U.S. presidency mean or do for Canada or democracy? No good, for regardless what he does from here on, Mr. Trump got the top job by bullying everyone who got in his way. It says to young people everywhere that it is okay to humiliate and belittle the other guy, or gal, to get your way. It tells me I need never again feel guilty for stepping out of line. Couth is dead. Long live nastiness.
In the short run and close to home, Canadian beef and lumber interests appear most vulnerable to protectionist interests in the U.S. We won’t wish for success of the U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports or R-Calf in their efforts to curb the two export-oriented industries most closely tied to readers of our own Atlantic Forestry Review and Atlantic Beef & Sheep.
Having heard and read what professional pundits had to say about the election, I was curious to know what friends and family living in the U.S. had to say. Without offering an opinion of my own, I asked several if they would reply to the question, in 200 words or less. Here are excerpts from their thoughtful comments. (None, it turns out, were in Trump’s corner. Too bad. A respectful discussion among people with opposing views is badly needed.)
“In the mid 1960s Merle Haggard sang ‘Stop the World (And Let Me Off).’ It was a country-western song of love lost. I want off for similar reasons, for the hate, bigotry, racism, misogyny, xenophobia of so many in this country and maybe in the world. We seem to have lost love.”
Punch Woods, Arizona
“Syracuse voted decidedly for Clinton, as did New York as a state. So there is shock and depression wherever we go. The night after the election Jan and I had a private kitchen drinking session and ended up singing Leonard Cohen songs deep into the night. Then the next night we heard that Cohen had died. That was weird and an additional weight. . .
“Honestly, I was just becoming comfortable with being American again. Eight years into the Obama thing had given me a little bit of hope. But this Trump setback looks to be a big stumble with many bad scenarios. On the other hand, people seem galvanized and are really not interested in going back to the 1950s.”
Tom Sherman, Syracuse, New York
“Trump is a shallow, bigoted, spoiled person – just past baby stage. Hillary could have built a stronger base (by) emphasizing that progress takes cooperative and coordinated effort, playing this off against Trump’s ‘I will... only I can...they’re so crooked, dumb, ugly,’ etc. I guess I’m in a wait-and-see attitude – hope for the best and try to hold his feet to the fire.”
Piet van Loon, Vermont
“There is nothing that Trump demonstrated to me during his campaign that suggests even remotely that he possesses the knowledge by virtue of education or experience, or the temperament, to be successful in any political environment, and certainly not as president of the United States.
“I don’t think he is an ideologue, which is ordinarily a quality that scares me, but in Trump’s case it might almost be preferable because it is my great apprehension that he is a man without a moral or ideological compass, which makes him vulnerable . . . to the last person to whisper in his ear.
“And then, there is the manner in which he comported himself during the campaign: crude, vindictive, dismissive, mean spirited, and thin skinned. . . . There is his opportunity to appoint members of the Supreme Court which could shape the Court for a generation, yielding decisions that have a high likelihood of being regressive, if not more.
“Finally – and I could really get going on a rant – is his appointment of Steve Bannon as his ‘chief strategist.’ He (Bannon) is a horror. Google him, but have a drink first.”
Rob Addelson, Massachusetts
“I fear Donald Trump’s presidency for many reasons: increased environmental damage; the undoing of many of Obama’s executive orders and the best of Obama’s eight years; his hateful immigration intentions; a reduction of social services, and (support for) the arts; the threat to world peace and security; the loss of compassion, respect, and the right to disagree with our government’s policies – the right to be different.”
Susan James, Vermont
“Well, I’m already sick with a wicked cold. So I’m already feeling the way the country I value feels: defeat, shame, chills, weak, lightheaded, headachy, and isolated. . . . I remember the jubilation in the streets when Obama was elected. Since Tuesday night the city is hushed. Windows dark early. . . At some level what do I wish? That we weren’t so busy yammering about Trump while folks at Standing Rock and around the world are actually protecting the Earth.”
Jane van Loon, California
“We had an election? Who won?
“Actually, I don’t know what I could say in 200 words, unless I do it in verse. That our political system could pit two opponents with the highest negatives in their respective parties against each other, and that the person with the most negatives could win, speaks volumes about the system.”
Mitch Lansky, Maine
A hope that soothes my tummy ache over the 11/9 attack on civility is that there will be no long run with Donald Trump. This is not reality TV – an entertainment package broken up into neat discrete segments allowing participants to daily walk off the set. It is reality 24/7 without letup, and will be overwhelming.
Merry Christmas, happy whatever holiday. The sun is on its way back this month. Can’t wait to see a Trump-Trudeau selfie. DvL