Way back in the olden days of 2015 when Donald Trump descended from his golden, made-for-reality-tv throne (or what we commoners call an escalator), I reassured everyone that this wasn’t as bad as it seemed because the American political system gave a president little possibility for totalitarian rule.
When Trump then started spewing his sexist, racist rhetoric, I reminded everyone that a sitting president couldn’t actually act that way without consequences.
When he then continually lied, insulted and bullied his way from the campaign trail to the highest seat in the country, I informed the freaked out masses that we would be okay. American democracy was based on a foundation of checks and balances with a House of Representatives, a Senate, and a sacred Constitution that Americans had to respect and follow.
Also, I thought Trump was full of shit and wouldn’t actually behave like an insolent toddler on speed once he moved into that “dump,” which is what he called the White House. I was naive enough to think that although his behaviour was true to form, he probably played it up a bit for his “fans” on Fox News. I actually expected the man to settle in to some sort of professional normalcy like any other house-trained pet who becomes president.
I was wrong . . . so, so wrong!
I’ll be clear: I hate being wrong. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often.
And technically, I wasn’t wrong when I stated the facts about the American political system as a whole. My error was in overestimating the strength of a Constitution that was reliant upon the Republican Party actually adhering to its dictates. Ah, the Republicans, the so-called Grand Old Party that sacrificed its soul (or whatever counts as a Republican soul these days) for a political victory.
Also, I may have been in complete denial when it came to Donald’s competency. I wasn’t totally worried; I trusted the intelligence and integrity of those experienced D.C. players who surrounded the orange rookie, helping to influence and guide him through the political waters. I believed the GOP would pick policy over their president, or at the very least qualified professionals would help Trump become “presidential.” Even a reasonable facsimile would suffice.
What was I thinking?
I held fast to the assumption that the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental strength of its governing body could outlast an unhinged old man who cheated at golf and cheated at life. I thought the system could keep him from building an army of yes men and keep the damage to a minimum. I didn’t count on the Republican Party selling out to a charlatan just to have a majority in government.
Instead, what little decency remaining in the GOP was traded like a baseball card for the Brett Cavanaughs and Bill Barrs of the world. I’d say they got a shitty deal but it was the rest of us who got shafted.
You see, back in 2015 (the beginning of the end some would say) when Trump was letting everyone know he was throwing his hideous red hat into the ring, we Canadians were still living under the pseudo-dictatorship of the guy with serial-killer eyes — Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Yes, we had Harper for a very long nine years. Unlike the United States with its four-year terms, Canada lets its leaders stay as long as they want — errr — I mean as long as they can manage to get re-elected. And many a political scholar has argued that Prime Ministers are more powerful within their own country (not necessarily internationally) than American presidents. So four years didn’t seem so long at all . . . until you realized it would be four years with Captain Crunch at the helm. Then it becomes like eternity . . . in hell . . . on a unicycle . . . naked.
You get the picture. It’s not pretty. But I’m getting off point and getting nauseous with thoughts of being naked on a unicycle. Or worse, Trump naked on a unicycle.
So as a somewhat informed, occasionally optimistic Canadian, I let everyone know that Trump running for president was no big deal. Really. Even if he did win, it wouldn’t be like Hitler coming back to life or anything! I mean Trump would have to deal with all those checks and balances, part of the sacred tenets of democracy.
Until he didn’t.
Back then I believed in law and order and the integrity of political bipartisanship for the sake of country, not party.
Until there was no law, no order and no integrity.
I was so wrong because I believed that the system, though broken, could still be fixed by a few good men and women who could run it like it should.
My mistake wasn’t in thinking Trump was harmless. My mistake was in believing the Republican Party wasn’t.