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by Lawrence Bush
WORD IS that with the skyrocketing of Donald Trump into contention for the presidency of the U.S., lots of progressive Americans are eyeballing Canada as a refuge. When a radio announcer in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia threw together a website a couple of months ago, “Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins,” he got more than 2,500 responses from interested Americans. (It’s a gorgeous place, that Cape Breton.)
Now, I admit to being one of the tens of thousands of Americans who visited Canada’s official immigration website back in 2004, when George W. Bush won his second term. His War on Terrorism, it seemed to me, could so easily have been finessed into a coup d’etat, and I feared that Dick Cheney was just the man to do it. (I might’ve been a shoo-in for Canadian citizenship, too, even without the white lies I told about the extent of my French literacy. I simply couldn’t find my snowshoes.)
Yet these days I find myself pissed off by American leftists who are now running scared from Donald Trump. Sure, his proposed policies about immigration and borders are racist. Sure, he’s a blusterer and media hound who could easily transition into a bona fide demagogue. Sure, he reminds me of Mussolini. But really, Donald Trump represents the implosion of ideological conservatism, not its fulfillment. I’m talking about the kind of anti-government conservatism that has been degrading our country by freezing its tax-and-spend capacity for the past eight years — that’s not Trump’s thing. I’m talking about the kind of traitorous refusal of Congressional Republicans to permit ANYTHING to be done to save our planet from carbon poisoning — I don’t think that’s Trump’s thing, either, unless he wants to see all of his casinos and apartments under water. I’m talking about conservatism that talks to the white working class while picking its pocket. Really, I’d rather see Trump in the White House than ANY of the other Republican candidates, even Jeb! — because Trump is NOT a true conservative, just as they say. He’s just an ass. Better an ass than a devil.
So what is Trump about, exactly? Who the hell knows!? He’s the face of white working-class anger — and maybe a little of my anger, too. He’s an economic nationalist? Good, I hate NAFTA and what it’s done to blue-collar workers in America, and I hate Thomas Friedman every time he writes about how wonderful and irreversible globalization is. An anti-internationalist? Fine, I’m good with keeping our soldiers at home and letting the rest of the world defend itself against one another. A sexist pig? Yeah, and how many of the politicians who have been chopping reproductive rights into tiny little pieces are feminists?
It is Trump’s adolescent unpredictability and revolting bluster and seeming “inexperience” that frightens people — but am I supposed to feel comfortable because Ted Cruz wears his ties straight and says his OUTRAGEOUS things with good elocution? Donald Trump is a much safer bet than the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson — oops, I mean than Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or any other living conservative Republican.
So don’t go to Canada, brothers and sisters. Have some respect for the blue-collar guys who renovated your apartment and are voting for Trump because they think (correctly) that Hillary Clinton is a corporate shill and that Bernie Sanders is a communist and comes from the Northeast, which is entirely owned by Harvard University.
Now, wait a minute, let me take off my baseball cap and put on my yarmulke...
Nah, it didn’t work to change my mind. Even as a Jew (and a commie and I love Bernie), I say this: Our people has been subjected to attacks from both above and below. We have very good reason to be paranoid about rightwing populism. But we should mostly check out our own bourgeoisification if we’re feeling more afraid, in America, of the boobocracy than the corporatocracy.
ON THE OTHER HAND...
I’ve been re-immersed in the material about Jewish resistance to Nazism that I explored in depth in our Autumn 2015 special issue, because I’ve been converting it into a traveling exhibit that will open April 17th at the Puffin Foundation gallery in Teaneck, New Jersey. So I’ve once again been swimming in the seas of racism and contemplating how deadly they can be. I’m not meaning to make light of Donald Trump’s sinful appeal to racism — anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, whatever.
Yet somehow I think I can put the evil genie of working-class racism back into the lamp more easily than I can put a cork in Sheldon Adelson’s mouth. Why do I think so? Because the guy who lives down the road from me and sometimes works on my house occasionally expresses racist ideas, but I can have coffee with him and talk to him about those ideas. Sheldon Adelson, on the other hand, never comes over.
Lawrence Bush scored 64 out of the required 65 points on his online Canadian citizenship test in 2004, because he owns a house in America and speaks some French, n’est-ce pas?