Friday, November 18, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: The Trump Years

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Anybody bristling at the thought of one more word about last week’s U.S. election is advised to turn back here. But I promise this two-parter is absolutely our final discussion of the subject for a while — at least until President Trump actually assumes office and does something worthy of commentary.

Assuming, of course, we are allowed to comment.

The Realiest, Truest, Biggest Election Evah

But really, this election may well be uncharacteristically significant. It was not politics as usual in America, and I think the outcome rates a few reflections before we retire it to the back-burner and resume life as 21st century Christians in North America.

Tom: So, Immanuel Can, have at it: What will be different tomorrow because the U.S. of A. is not going to be overseen by Mrs. Clinton?

Immanuel Can: I’m told there may be some serious policy implications. For example, the pro-abortion cause has long been a darling of Democrat politics. It would seem less likely to go forward unimpeded now.

Tom: Yes. Those Supreme Court appointments are going to be very different if Hillary is not the one making them. Trump has unapologetically said he’s looking for pro-life Supremers, something the Left finds “horrifying”. Snort.

IC: What would you point to, Tom?

Dialing Back the Rhetoric

Tom: During the last two debates it seemed like Hillary was going out of her way to alternately accuse and threaten Russia. To be fair, that may have been all posturing rather than serious intent: she may have simply hoped to gain traction with the neocon #NeverTrump crowd by showing she had no intention of letting major world powers push her around. But it seems to me the danger of crying wolf when the wolf is Vladimir Putin far outweighs whatever minimal bump in the polls she might have temporarily realized by appearing hawkish. If she was faking it, it wasn’t worth the risk and demonstrated poor judgment. And if she really meant it, she’s downright bonkers.

Which is to say, yeah, temporarily averting WWIII is not a bad thing either.

Unprogressive America

IC: Now, the explanation for Hillary’s loss that I’m hearing from left-leaning people is that, and I quote, “America wasn’t progressive enough to be ready for the first black president being followed with the first female president”. In other words, this is all about racism and sexism, according to them. You buying that explanation, Tom?

Tom: Oh, that’s hilarious. No, I think America’s probably ready for a female president ... just not THAT female president.

But you bring up a good point: our political discourse has really reached rock bottom when the answer to “Why did he vote that way?” is always something along the lines of “He’s a racist, sexist homophobe.” It seems to me Trump’s election is evidence that at least half of Americans have stopped buying into that nonsense. That’s good news.

I had lunch with a friend this week who says he would have voted for Hillary if he lived in the States. I definitely wouldn’t have, as you know. But I know him, I respect his judgment and I value him as a human being, so we had a profitable exchange about the issues and ended up closer together rather than further apart.

But you have to assume goodwill and a desire for truth on the part of the other side in any debate if you want to have that sort of conversation.

One Side of an Issue

IC: Yes, that’s really true. There’s much value in keeping an open and fair-minded dialogue going with the opposition. It reminds me of what was said by J.S. Mill:
“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion ... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them ... he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”
To know only one side of an issue is really to know neither side. That’s smart.

Tom: Or, as Proverbs reminds us, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

The Church in Ten Years

I had another lunch with a different friend a few weeks back and as we sat down, the first question he asked me was, “Where do you see the churches in this city in ten years?” My answer was (and remains), “It depends on who wins the U.S. election.”

Does that sound loopy to you?

IC: I’ve got to confess … it sounds a little out there. What do you mean, Tom?

Tom: Well, as you are well aware, our own Prime Minister swings pretty far to the left of the political spectrum. In this, he and President Obama are a match made in heaven. Back in May, Mr. Trudeau’s team trumpeted their new bill to protect transgender people from “hate speech”. “Hate speech” is one of those lovely amorphous terms that means whatever any given interpreter wants it to mean on any given day. Basically, if a transgender person feels hurt, or even if a third party thinks transgender people might potentially be emotionally troubled by the way Canadians refer to them, this law gives them a cause of action to pursue in court. By that standard, some people would almost surely construe things we’ve written on this blog in previous years as hateful, and therefore actionable.

IC: What? Just because we don’t agree with him? I can’t remember us hating anyone, or talking as if we did.

Translating Liberal-speak for First-Timers

Tom: Oh, we don’t. But the verb “to hate” in Liberal-speak would include any implication that a person’s conduct is objectively wrong, or that they might be mentally ill. That’s hate speech in our current environment. All of which is to say that it looks increasingly like the curtailment of free speech is coming in Canada, and coming quickly. All it would take is the right case before one of our Human Rights Commissions.

IC: Ha. That’s unlikely to take long.

Tom: I agree. Anyway, Mr. Trudeau is not a moron, he’s a pragmatist. He has his finger on the pulse of world opinion, and he’ll trend the way other countries are trending on such issues. A U.S. president like Hillary Clinton that went all-in for “social justice” causes would give Mr. Trudeau room to tack even further to the ideological left, where he’s bound to eventually to come into conflict with the Bible-based beliefs of Canadian churches. A Trump presidency, on the other hand, is (at least in the short term) a victory for free speech, and a successful Trump presidency might well inspire the same sort of anti-PC movement in Canada, though on a much smaller scale.

IC: I was thinking maybe the Dr. Jordan Peterson case, or something like it, might be a sort of turning point. It does look as though for the first time there’s a sizeable public turning against Leftist witch-hunts like that. But how profound that turning is I couldn’t venture to say.

Tom: This is turning out to be too big to fail — or at least too big for a single post. Let’s explore that idea a bit more tomorrow.


  1. On a point of observation and without spin in terms of whom I favour down below the 49th parallel and even further south, below the Mason-Dixon line:

    I've been following US presidential politics since 1960 when Kennedy was elected. (Yes, my views wer somewhat simpler then because at the time I was after all a kindergarten student. But I recall vividly four years later, as a grade 3/4 student asking my father if I had to fear re. thermo-nuclear war if Barry Goldwater got it) Barak Obama was the first presidential candidate who while in power practiced the ideas of J.S. Mill in terms of openly noting that he had spent time to understand the other persons/party's point of view. Not that I always agreed with him, but I found his approach to debate as refreshing, certainly in contrast to the debacle of so called "debate" we had in the last election.

    1. I think the days of civilized political discourse are rapidly disappearing into the rear view mirror, Russell, but they'll be missed.