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We Need To Talk With America Before It's Too Late

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TALKING TO AMERICA
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If you think of earth as a giant and complicated neighbourhood of neighbourhoods, it might be said that the Trumpification we are now witnessing in the States doesn't really have anything to do with Trump himself. He is not the cause. He is the opportunistic benefactor. Let's call him dystopia Donald. He's relatively new to this area.

I've been reflecting on how the new guy has managed to whip up such political, partisan, racist, misogynist, intolerant fervour. And then it struck me. It's because he doesn't need to raise money to win.

He is, as my dad would say, born on third base and acts like he hit a triple. What he needs is fans, spectators, curious onlookers, critics and commentators.

Speaking of baseball, we might like to engage our neighbours in a friendly cross border game because we have the Blue Jays. On most summer days, that's the obvious extent of our friendly relationship. Except it's not. They are our single largest trading partner. And it turns out, there is major league trouble ahead. While a friendly baseball game might ease the tension, what we really need to do is have the conversation. We need to talk to the neighbours.

So, if anybody's listening, here goes.

Ironically, the Trump effect started, in my humble view, some decades ago when Kuwait was in trouble with its neighbour Iraq. Remember that? The US came in and swiftly shut the conflict down. Lauded for their great and decisive victory, they left behind burning oil fields and hungry children. But they won. And winning matters. Except when it causes a chain reaction that ends with a crank pot the likes of Trump within arm's reach of the White House.

While it may be a simplistic view and some will argue that I'm connecting dots that shouldn't be connected, I can't help but feel that the sanctions imposed on Iraq after Operation Desert Shield actually exposed the world to the radicalization we see so often today. For the US, it was always about the supply of oil. Let's face it, they wouldn't have invaded had it been about the supply of broccoli. But for the Middle East, it was about the factions left behind to clean up the devastation.

Here's the thing. Hungry children grow up to be angry adults. And angry adults scare countries. While the 9/11 attackers were Egyptian and Saudi, the US must have had something on its guilty conscious when they started the war on Iraq as a result. Except this time, they didn't win. And the damage was worse and it continues to this day.

Of course, we know this and have known this for decades. Recall the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe -- for the victors and the vanquished -- after World War II. That worked. It was expensive and time consuming but far less so than the fall out from the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Perhaps there were other priorities at play. The Bush Administration needed a decisive win in the 2004 election. The last Bush who went to war and won, lost to a Clinton. But winning takes money and you need to make big money to donate big money. That's about the time when the Bush Administration deregulated banks and changed taxation laws. They won. But it can be argued, that those deregulation and taxation changes contributed to the financial crash of 2008.

So pity some of these poor Americans, decades of expensive wars, the decimation of the manufacturing sector, the off-shoring of corporate profits, the urban neglect, the radicalization of the disenfranchised, the bank bailouts, and the mortgage implosions. No wonder they are angry. I don't blame them. They need help, or a hug, or something. Something other than Trump.

But Trump doesn't need the money most politicians need to win a campaign. He's got that. He's beholden to no one, not even the Koch brothers. And that's the bit that really scares me. He's a manipulative benefactor of the decisions made during the post Operation Desert Shield by the Bush family who, ironically, were nowhere to be seen at the RNC convention that nominated him.

Of course, we're not talking about all Americans. The US chose hope and change with Obama and, despite the gloomy start, the US is much better off than it was in 2008. I don't care what side of the political spectrum you are on, numbers, unlike people, don't lie.

But foreign wars have a domestic cost. The US too has its share of hungry children and as well as an underfunded public education system. And we know that often times, hungry, poorly educated children can grow up to be angry adults. Many of whom could be found at the RNC convention. Islamophobes, homophobes, racists, angry voters rejoicing in their common hate for another Clinton and hoping that the nomination of a man who has has taken advantage of all that was taken from them will pay off with new found global pride and dominance. Talk about the art of the deal.

All because neighbours wouldn't talk to each other even if they could have. What we seem to do instead is express sympathy after the fact. #JeSuisParis #PrayforOrlando - seems we're pretty good at prayers and moments of silence. The irony of a moment of silence is that so often it's far too late and far too quiet.

As I sit on my front porch and ponder what can be done, it hits me. The neighbour walks by and says hi. The seniors on their routine walkabout comment on today's weather. My kids friends smile as they bike down to the beach for a swim. A friend drives by and waves. Neighbourhoods are the front door to change. So long as the doors are open and the conversations happen, we still have a chance.

So from my porch to your stoop on life, I am grateful for human kindness. It might save us yet.

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