There seems to have been a desire by the media to view Dec. 31, 2019, as a moment in history when we close the chapter on the past decade and enter a new year with a clean slate. Nonsense.
Donald Trump’s extraordinarily perverse presidency will continue. By the time the 2020 U.S. federal election is finished, very few parents or rational, intelligent American citizens will look at life in the service of the public through holding elected office as an honourable and decent pursuit. Further, we will all be indelibly aware that truth, honesty, fairness and human decency are discarded on arrival at the Dulles Airport in Washington. And we know that balanced conduct and comment by the political media, no matter the source, has become largely extinct – and that intelligent, thoughtful, balanced journalism has all but disappeared from the American political scene.
Unhappily, this perverse, pessimistic contagion has spilled over and now infects just about every western democracy. Britain is mimicking the Yanks, electing a brutish and bullying Boris Johnson. Germany is at risk of re-emerging fascism as Angela Merkel leaves under a cloud of distrust. France is already wearing yellow jackets. Chile is in violent revolt. Australia is boisterously ambivalent about what party should be in power. Alberta’s premier is sympathetic to Wexit idealogues. Even Hong Kong is out of control.
Cynicism is realistically commonplace in our views on reliability in commerce (truth in advertising), social communication (Twitter and Facebook), education (which Canadian history?) and individual rights under our Constitution (notwithstanding clauses and Quebec).
In search of finding some balance and understanding of what drives the uncompromising political tirade we are experiencing, I closed the book on 2019 by reading Lord Conrad Black of Crossharbour’s publication entitled “Donald Trump: A President Like No Other”. Lord Black’s erudite scribing poses rational reasons for the President’s outrageous tirades against anyone who disagrees with or opposes him. In their shared view, triumphing in all pursuits and being expressly admired for them is crucial. The most enlightening insight was a long-standing experiential antipathy both men share on opinions published about them by the establishment press. Lord Black poses a defensibly rational argument for being wary of the fifth estate – except perhaps for the president’s favourite, the National Enquirer.
And so we enter the next decade hesitantly – peevishly concerned about the cultural fabric of western democracies where social structural anger and striking out are being promoted from electioneering podia, where alienation-based lethal violence is escalating, and where our youth are increasingly sceptical about whether they will be able to even dream about having a meaningful and rewarding future.
Perhaps that is why China’s way of governance has become attractive to non-aligned and third-world countries. For surely if we can no longer trust or count on each other in a free democratic society, then we must look to a strongly led and directive state as our rock of stability and security.
In May 2019, Mr. Trump issued his former business associate a Presidential pardon of Lord Black’s conviction (and imprisonment) for fraud and obstruction of justice.
Welcome to 2020.
Alan Murdock is a local pediatrician.