I would love to rage today. I would love to claim victory on behalf of Jody Wilson-Raybould, our former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and the woman I have come to admire greatly. I am very much tempted to wax poetic on her behalf, and heap praise on the content of her submission to the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Ethics, but I am going to save all that for another day…… or two.
As the saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold……
Although I have nothing in the way of revenge to deliver here, Jody Wilson-Raybould does. The release of Wilson-Raybould’s recording of her 17-minute chat with Michael Wernick (our outgoing Clerk of the Privy Council and Justin Trudeau’s de facto Deputy Minister) late yesterday (Friday) has shocked our National Capital to the point where politicians and public servants alike are numb, and mostly dumb.
Its going to take a couple of days for our Prime Minister to get his jaw muscles working again to the point where he can come up with a totally different dialogue about why he had to move Jody Wilson-Raybould out of the Justice/Attorney General portfolio. I can’t wait to hear the new Liberal spin. Whatever comes tumbling out of Trudeau’s mouth, I’m sure it will be Trump-like in its attempt to humiliate and de-humanize Wilson-Raybould, for that’s all the PM has left here. Either go full-out attack and remove her from the Liberal caucus or admit complete fault in the handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
But alas, its Saturday and therefore the weekend. And as is becoming my custom, I like to use my weekend space for reflection on whatever political, social and/or economic tidbit that hits my fancy.
I will put aside my need to rage at the injustice suffered by our former Minister of Justice, and console myself, for the next couple of days at least, in the knowledge that even little boy Prime Ministers can suffer through and experience righteous justice when he is caught spewing outright lies about our former Minister of Justice to the people (you and me) he is sworn to serve and protect. Too much? Oh well……..
So, taking a breath here. Took my meds a couple of hours ago, and the coffee (Nespresso, by the way, and OMG>>>>>>) tastes fine.
I almost burnt my hands trying to pick up a copy of today’s Toronto Star, because well, you guessed it, I mostly support “the other guys” and the Star is not happy that their hero Trudeau got caught in the ultimate lie. So, today I couldn’t stomach the Liberal spin that the Toronto Star was providing the Liberal Party of Canada free of charge. Instead, I had to be content with reading my copy of the more often safe National Post.
In today’s edition of the National Post, and again you probably guessed correctly, I started at the Issues and Ideas section. There, in bold print, I found a full page spread titled “This May Be How the West Might Be Lost”. Ummmm. Interesting stuff, maybe? Could they be talking about Trump?
Matt Gurney, a columnist for the National Post, happened to be in Calgary earlier this week, where he attended a lecture given by Anne Applebaum. Applebaum is a writer of numerous history books which focus heavily on Eastern and Central Europe. In addition to being a writer of some note, she is also an American journalist who holds duel American/Polish citizenship. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize, she has written extensively about Marxism-Leninism and the development of civil “western democratic societies” in Central and Eastern Europe.
Applebaum is also a visiting Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics, where she runs a think tank called Arena, a project that focuses on the study of propaganda and disinformation. She has also been an editor at The Economist and the Spectator, and a member of the editorial board of the Washington Post from 2002-2006.
I will allow that some of you may take exception to and with Applebaum’s politics, because she is decidedly a supporter of moderate conservative political movements – in political parlance, a supporter of the middle-right. But Ann Coulter (that right-wing lunatic Trump supporter who appears on Fox News regularly) she is not. And say what you want, this lady Anne Applebaum is no dummy. I am happy to say that, in my view, she is a writer of some importance who “calls it like it is”. I have followed Applebaum’s career and came to admire her accomplishments, as well as her observations, over the years.
During her lecture at the University of Calgary this week, Applebaum expressed her concern that the Western World is losing its sense of unity, “of shared task and purpose among the many nations that make up the Western bloc, but also (losing) a belief in the very things that defined the West – democracy, the rule of law, and pluralism”. And not to go all academic outlaw on you here, but pluralism in this context is defined as a system of government with traditional political parties.
This sense of lose – and the lack of respect for democratic institutions – is playing itself out in the United States right now, goes the argument. And because we Canadians are really 80% American in our thinking, this lack of respect for our Canadian democratic institutions is evident in Canada as well. Public opinion surveys in the US, Canada and Western Europe – all champions of liberal multi-party democracy – have shown that younger generations who define themselves as millennials are much less likely than their parents are to say that living in a democracy is essential. Applebaum concludes that “this is the decline in support for, and belief in and admiration for, democracy”.
How did we get here, meaning to the point where our children and our children’s children no longer share our faith in the rule of law and our political democratic institutions? Obviously, I’m speaking for “we older folks” here, but never the less, this is a legitimate question. And, of course, I’m inclined to give you Applebaum’s opinion, which I just happen to agree with.
There are many, many global happenings that Applebaum cites that shows and supports our collective faith in Western democratic systems – a prime example is the fall of that evil empire, the Soviet Union.
So, in regards to the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have a score of Western democracy 1 – Soviet Communism 0. We win!
But she also shows prime examples that have encouraged a collective lack of faith in the system. For example, we have the disastrous results of the Iraq War and the 2008 Financial Crisis, both periods of real alarm that certainly weakened our faith in Western institutions.
In this case, we have International events controlling our lives 2 – Western institutions 0. We loose!
There is an unspoken collective agreement in Western societies that the world has become too global, too quickly. And that scares people. We have world events, international economics, free trade agreements among allies and traditional foes alike, and mass immigration into Western democracies (really meaning ‘coloured’ immigration) and because all of this is happening much too fast, and information flow is instant, like “right now”, democratic institutions are no longer in control.
But more and more, because of advances in technology, and our use of social media, more and more people are shaping their own views of what’s happening in our cities and towns, in our countries of birth, and around the world. Technology and social media provide an astonishing amount of information delivered at lightspeed “over the now utterly ubiquitous smartphone”.
It has become outright impossible to bluff your way through any argument now a days, because the minute a person starts to bluff – or BS – their way through an argument, all one must do is pull out the cell phone and hit Google. Well, my friends, there is your answer, right on the internet. And, of course, if its on the internet, it must be true. It really doesn’t matter what the government of your country is saying, or what traditional media outlets are saying, because here it is, right on the internet.
Now, dear readers, to go what is a full circle, at least in my head, please understand that Donald Trump has 60 million followers on Twitter. Trump does not use Facebook or Instagram, because he doesn’t have to. Trump has the means to deliver an unlimited number of messages to 60 million people a day, and none of it is filtered through what most of us would be considered traditional democratic institutions, which would include the media.
Traditional government and private sector institutions, and the media, are now simply bypassed at best, or ignored at worst. The result is the same though. At the end of the day, traditional democratic institutions and traditional media are overwhelmed by technology and by the sheer “amount” of information coming at an individual, or groups of individuals, on a regular basis.
Applebaum contends that western democracies are going to have to start thinking about how to regulate the internet. “How do we make the internet conducive to liberal democracy,” she asks. “The Chinese have made their internet conducive to authoritarianism. What’s our answer to that? And are we going to leave it to Mark Zuckerberg to decide everything, to figure out what gets censored and what those rules should be?”
But in the end, Applebaum is worried that what we are really fighting here is the passage of time. We are all getting older, and as Matt Gurney describes Applebaum’s thoughts, “as time passes, we are increasingly removed from the victories and shared needs that once united the Western democracies. Our recent track record is littered with costly failures. Even in Eastern Europe, we now have a full generation of adults who have no living memories of the horrors and failures of communism”.
In the American context, these are the people Trump is speaking to in the United States, my friends. His messages are mixed, but direct.
NATO? Who needs it. None of our allies are paying their fair share of NATO costs, and the US wins all the wars anyway. Let’s kill NATO. We don’t need it.
Immigration? The United States may be a country of immigrants, but that was then, and this is now. We don’t need to fix immigration, we need to stop it. If things keep going the way they are going now, in 20 years our white population will be in the minority, and that we cannot allow to happen. We don’t have to fix immigration; we need to stop it. Now. And to stop it, we need to build a wall.
ObamaCare? We have to kill it, because we cannot allow ourselves to become a Socialist country. We’ll figure out health care, in due time, sometime before the next election in 2020. But health care isn’t the important issue here. The important issue is stopping the spread of socialism.
See what I mean? If we were living in a place where traditional democratic institutions were working, this crap wouldn’t be possible.
Applebaum is sounding the alarm. But are we listening?