To a certain generation of Canadians, Prime Minister John Diefenbacker will be forever remembered for Black Friday, 20 February 1959, when all production of Canada’s preeminent jet interceptor, the Avro Arrow, was shut down by his government. The apparent reason? Costs were too high.
What then followed was a haphazard folly of buying, then scrapping outdated Nuclear-tipped missiles and inferior, aged jet fighters from the US… resulting two years later with the expenditure of even more money and nothing to show for it.
In his 1963 book, Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years, by Peter C. Newman, Diefenbaker is described as a man “goaded by a thirst for power… beset by suspicion of even his close associates… who often put political expediency ahead of the ideal he proclaimed.” – The New York Times
According to Newman, Diefenbaker’s greatest weakness as Prime Minister was ‘a complete lack of administrative ability and a congenital inability to make decisions… problems being postponed until they had reached crisis proportions.’
Politically, along with the odd conspiracy theory, what national figure does that remind you of today? Yes! And, like ex-president Donald J. Trump, Diefenbaker was described as a man desperately trying to return to power.
Trump’s inability to decide if the covid-19 threat was serious or not, resulted in the lack of a coherent national immunization plan. In fact, he went the opposite way by suggesting that, just like the common flu, it would fade out on its own – even though scientists warned that millions would succumb to the virus.
His excuse? He didn’t want to alarm the populous. Yet, the truth is that the majority of voters can handle bad news. But what they can’t handle is being misled by their leaders.
Instead, he doubled down in his denial. Refusing throughout 2020 to set the example by wearing a mask. This left a void for anti-government conspiracy theorists to spread disinformation – with fears of dire political and secret health plots: none of which was dissuaded by the president.
“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost”
~ Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen Watch on YouTube
In fact, before his huge Twitter account was shut down, he continued to fan the flames of insurrection, both online and in person – resulting in a deadly riot against the American seat of government in Washington, 6 January 2021. All along, since the November 3, 2020 election, the masses were being fed the biggest political lie, ever: that the US election was rigged; and, according to the loser Donald Trump, it was stolen from him by President-elect Joe Bidden. The proof? Not so much. Still, Trump felt that if he shouted about it long enough people would believe it. How can 80 million Twitter followers be wrong?
His problem? Credibility.
A Washington Post final ‘Fact-Checker’ analyst showed recently that the ex-president made 30,573 false or misleading claims during his four year term in office. Trump may have coined the term ‘fake news’ to media he didn’t agree with – calling them “the enemy of the people” – yet he was the biggest practitioner of it.
Plus, Trump’s initiated lawsuits were nearly all dismissed by the courts – along with several recounts disproving his baseless claims. Yet, with an absence of critical thinking, a large selection of the population seems to believe anything on their computer.
Just like the tabloids my mom bought in the ‘50s, she knew their claims were true because they were printed in publications at the checkout counters. She just felt that these couldn’t appear in print unless it was true. Like newspapers, the tabloids were considered the real thing – today, it’s called social media.
And Trump – as was recorded in a leaked tape – even tried to talk the state of Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, plus other election officials into manipulating the vote count in his favour. Maybe, he counted on the fact that since they were all members of the same political party they would capitulate. They did not.
It’s what happens when you run up against principled people in all walks of life: they are made of the right stuff… performing their duties honourably. With courage, confidence and moral toughness, they stood tall at a critical time for democracy. In my view, they should all be awarded the Medal of Freedom… patriots who did – and continue to – stand up against Trump-ism.
And just when it seemed there was nothing Trump wouldn’t resort to – with millions seemingly holding their collective breath leading up to inauguration day – Trump was successful in calling on the masses (those who didn’t question his stolen election claim) to march on the capital and very nearly caused a coup. It resulted in ransacked offices, injuries and loss of life. And, after inciting the crowd to violently take the capital, he watched the destruction, from the safety of the White House’s television screen – he never once tried to stop it.
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.”
~ “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate
And, what explains the actions of elected republican politicians who supposedly are intelligent people? Why did they enable and abet Trump when they could see the “big lie” for what it was… a big lie? Not many politicians have the fortitude to tell their electorate the truth.
So, they played dumb (still pretending they lost the election unfairly) acting as if the whole thing wasn’t true. They then voted against their own Constitution by trying to stop the count of the Electoral College’s confirmation: Bidden won. As a result they put their party leader and future prospects ahead of their own country. Yet, he’s really, just a man whose fragile ego won’t accept failure or concede defeat.
The only wild card left is what former chief strategist Steve Bannon – now pardoned by Trump – will be recommending Trump to do next. This partner-in-crime will no doubt be loading silver bullets of insurrection into his master’s complex and devious twin guns of chaos and division.
We must try to understand the feelings of people who have endured the loss of outdated jobs and the suffering of self-worth because they can’t provide for their families: even the elimination of a way of life they once knew and took for granted… maybe even clinging to a sense of entitlement that’s not well founded. Who can blame them for feeling rejected or from falling in line behind a charismatic and persuasive leader who tells them they’re not to blame. It might be anyone else: the Jews, the immigrants, the blacks… the ‘us’ against ‘them.’
The truth that Mr. Trump – just like renegades everywhere – have to understand is that eventually, people finally do see the truth… again. We all should hope that President, Joe Bidden, succeeds in righting this ship of state.
That’s the way I figure it. – FP
Avro Arrow – Wikimedia Creative Commons
John G. Diefenbaker – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
Fred Parry lives in Southern Ontario. He is a lover of people and a collector of stories, music, wisdom, and grandchildren. His raison d’etre? “I’m one of those people who believe that if my work serves the common good, it will last; if not, it will die with me. As a freelancer – including ten years as a Torstar columnist – I still believe that’s true.” His book, ‘The Music In Me’ (2013) Friesen Press is also available via Indigo / Chapters.
Blog / Website: www.fredparry.ca
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