Half a century ago, the Republicans in the U.S. nominated Barry Goldwater as their candidate for President. The Arizona senator was a bit of a loose cannon to say the least, advocating things like using nuclear weapons to blow the leaves off the trees in Vietnam where thousands of American boys were fighting the communist guerillas.
The GOP knew that Goldwater would lose, but what the hell. Lyndon Johnson was riding the huge wave of sympathy that followed the death of John F. Kennedy on the streets of Dallas the year before, and LBJ won by a landslide in 1964.
Flash ahead to 2015. Donald Trump should be impossible to nominate, let alone have any chance of winning in the election next November. But the Donald refuses to go away. Indeed, he becomes more outrageous as the days go by, now pledging that if he somehow manages to make it to the White House, Muslims would no longer be allowed to enter the U.S.
It’s a racial declaration that has people – including some in the Republican leadership – comparing him to the likes of Hitler. All over the world, as countries like Canada try to cope with the needs of Syrian refugees, Donald Trump is giving Americans the blackest eye they’ve had in a century or more. In our parliament, NDP leader Tom Mulcair said Trump should be turned back at the border if he dares to come to Ottawa.
One would think that Hilary Clinton’s people must be smiling and dancing a jig about now. The Democratic frontrunner is not way out front like Johnson was in 1964, but unless something happens to derail the Donald, she and Bill will probably return to the White House next year without breaking a sweat.
Sadly, this is anything but a sign of political health, in the most powerful democracy on this planet.
I’m Roger Currie
Photos by Michael Vadon and Gage Skidmore