Tag Archives: Andrew Coyne

Trump and the Canadians

Trump, CanadaCanadians’ views on American politics are generally fairly predictable. Being Canadian means a degree of smugness blended with a drop or two of envy and a fairly constant need to assert moral superiority. In a very polite, but persistent way.

The candidacy, nomination and election of Donald Trump gave the better class of Canadian plenty of opportunity to show each other just how intelligent and enlighted they were. The Coynes and Kinsellas competed with each other in the political snobbery sweepstakes. Trump was Hitler, the Republicans the Nazi Party, Steve Bannon was a badly dressed Goring or, more likely, Satan himself. Breitbart News was Der Stürmer, the alt-right was universally the SS, the Trump regime overnight transformed America – save for the brave “Resistance” – into an anti-semitic, racist, fascist, misogynistic state in which freedom of the press and human rights in general were crushed under the jackbooted heels of Trump’s evil to a man (and pretend woman) Cabinet.

It has been tons of fun to watch ostensibly rational, intelligent, people reach immediately for the white supremacist smear tool kit in the face of the unthinkable occurring in our neighbour to the South.  The fact that, one month into the Trump Presidency, the worst he seems to have done is be rude to CNN and the New York Times doesn’t deter our good and decent Canadians one bit. They just know that Trump is an evilton and, at any moment, will open the concentration camps and start rounding up Mexicans, Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Women, Queers, NYT reporters and anyone else the human Cheeto and his henchmen find objectionable.

And, to make the entire thing even more ominous, there seems to be a belief that Trump was put into position by none other than Prince of Darkness, Vladimir Putin and that Trump is simply following orders. Or something.

Step by step refutations of all or some of this hysteria have next to no effect. the Canadian reaction to Trump is not a “political” reaction in any common sense of that term. It is far more visceral, more religious, more tribal: Trump could be a very good President, accomplish great things, improve the condition of black people, defend the 1st Amendment and preside over an economic boom lifting all boats and he would still, to the Canadian commentariat, be the Hell Spawn of Satan.

Now some of that commentariat, like Kinsella, are simply stupid partisans for whom nothing Trump says or does will ever be anything but evil. These were the people who, had they been Americans, would have eagerly voted for Hilly on her merits. (A touching act of faith performed by very few actual Americans – the “hold your nose for Hillary” voters constituted the bulk of her support.)

The mildly more rational, like Coyne, seem to see Trump as essentially impossible. Back before the election Coyne was rumbling on about not being able to see how anyone could support Trump. More recently, he is using the Trump re-alignment in American politics as a stick with which to beat up the Canadian conservative Manning Center conference for having rightish agenda items and some populist speakers.

The biggest worry, the nightmare scenario, for the Canadian media and political elite, is the possibility that Canada is not entirely unanimous in its fevered rejection of Trump and all he stands for. There is an awful possibility that we do not live to welcome refugees. And there seem to be some ungracious Canadians who believe that people who come to Canada should adopt Canadian ways and “fit into mainstream Canadian society”. Yikes!

There is some evidence that, once they realize what it costs and how little effect it will have, Canadians are not entirely willing to do whatever it takes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

There are even some Canadians who are growing a tiny bit suspicious that mainstream Canadian media might not be reporting objectively. In fact, when Macleans let a bunch of its staffers go a few weeks ago, there were nasty Canadians saying “good riddance”.

Despite the frantic efforts of the Kinsellas and Coynes of this world, there are disturbing signs not every Canadian is thrilled with rule by the Laurentian elite.

For all of his foibles, the late Rob Ford’s success in Toronto, worried Canadian elites. I mean it’s one thing to have yahoos in Alberta electing hard core conservatives, but this was Toronto.

The three leading contenders for the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership are all running from the Right. Leitch because that gave her an edge in the early going; O’Leary because, well, who knows what goes on in that strange little man’s head; Bernier because he has run and been elected as a libertarian conservative for years.

Mainstream media is bleeding out, unable to compete with online, unable to adapt to the internet and unable to attract revenue. It is being replaced by everything from VICE and The Rebel to news and views delivered by social media. The cozy relationship between the Globe and Mail, CTV, CBC and the Ottawa political world is collapsing because ambitious politicians can by-pass the media elite.

If our commentariat thought about it for a bit they would realize that the actual reality of Trump is not that he is orange Hitler; rather he and the people around him have figured out how to culture jam traditional media, traditional politics and, perhaps, the deep state. Thinking about how Trump managed to do that would be more interesting than thinking crapping on him from great height somehow matters.

The people, the Canadians, who realize that Trump was actually about something important and transformative will have a clue about what is likely to go on in Canada in the next few years.

 

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Trump Panic

Andrew Coyne has gone full RINO in todays National Post, “We’re Staring into the Abyss of a Trump Presidency” (use incognito mode to defeat the NP paywall). Coyne points at all of the possible people to blame for this terrible mess and, of course, fails to notice that the American electorate has simply had enough of the current political system. That idea, the idea that people independently of elite opinion have weighed the system and found it wanting is beyond Coyne as it is beyond most of the commetariat.

Trust Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain how people who seem intelligent, as Coyne often does, can misunderstand the basics of the political world.

The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in most countries, the government’s role is between five and ten times what it was a century ago (expressed in percentage of GDP). The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and is rarely seen outside specialized outlets, think tanks, the media, and universities — most people have proper jobs and there are not many openings for the IYI.

Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite. He fails to naturally detect sophistry.

The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When Plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. (medium)

Coyne and his ilk parted company with what one might refer to as “regular” people years ago. From Global Warming to Brexit to mass hidden unemployment to pro-refugee policy they have ceased to hear anything outside their shrinking bubble. The fact they can make assorted, sophisticated, arguments in favour of elite policy, from either the left or the right, proves terrific rhetorical dexterity. But it does not change the actual facts on the ground.

For Intellectuals Yet Idiots words are reality. Which means that it is a knock down argument to yell “Racist” or “Bigot” at someone with whom you disagree. But what happens when that no longer works? When people refuse to accept the labeling, hectoring and judgement of their intellectual “betters”?

In a word: Trump. Or Brexit. Or the collapse of the EU.

Coyne needs to get out more. He is smarter than he sounds in his NP article; but the poor man is entirely isolated. Isolation creates cluelessness.

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