The Donald Trump phenomena in the United States reminds me of our experience in Toronto, Canada, when a so-called everyman mayor who appealed to angry populism was elected. Ford's behaviour proved to be such a distraction that much of his agenda, such as it was, stalled at every step. Ford, like Trump, loved to attack people on their appearance, ethnicity and gender. Over time, personality-driven, badly behaved leaders will get to the point of alienating all but their most ardent allies.
The "big three" as I call them (the intolerant, the anti-intellectual and the undesirable) began to migrate to the GOP in significant numbers in 2008. These folks have remained in the party ever since, pushing it closer to their political agenda and off a political cliff. This is one American phenomenon that there should be no interest in embracing.
As a younger woman, I stood beneath the arch on countless occasions at the height of the Cold War. It was a time when there were far fewer allied nations and as a Canadian teen I knew my closest allies were those I could reach through the arch to connect with. In 1984 the Americans were not just my neighbors, they were my family in every sense of the word. Suddenly, it's 28 years later. You find yourself in 2012 in the midst of the US election and you realize, with shock and awe that the gate is closing - not because of economics or war or terrorist threat or because a guard is standing at the border locking the gate in front of you - but in the name of blind adherence to ideology.
Obama has somehow managed to come across as a socialist during this election -- a man who believes in subsidizing insurance companies, who is consistently violating international and domestic law by killing people via drones, and only recently came to the epiphany that all people should be free to choose the person they marry. More alarmingly, however, is the ease in which the Conservative base in Canada has managed to sympathize with Romney. This of course brings a very important debate to the forefront: is the Harper government much further to the right than they would like to let on? After all, it seems rather odd that Canadian Conservatives could find anything in common with the current Republican Party of today.
The highlight of the RNC was the surprise appearance of Clint Eastwood, which virtually every commentator knocked as embarrassing, disrespectful to President Obama, the meanderings of a senile old man. What rubbish! Eastwood was brilliant and devastatingly funny. I guess you had to be there, but delegates were rolling in the aisles -- and he made some good points, too.
If Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win in November the religious fringe of the Republican Party will solidify its place in Republican politics. The Party needs to lose, and loose badly, so it can remove from its tent the intolerant and credulous whose presence has begun to rot the bowels of a once great institution.
Obama doesn't acknowledge that he's flip-flopped on the "marriage" aspect; he says he's "evolved" to that belief, encouraged by his wife and daughters. By supporting gay marriages, Obama may have lost the Evangelical vote -- assuming he ever had it, which is doubtful. But in any case, same-sex marriages are more a case of national curiosity than national importance.
There was a time when it would have been unthinkable for an American president to utter those words, but today that era has passed. In a nation divided by Democrats and Republicans, secular and religious, north and south, today marks a day where America has moved one step closer to no longer being a nation divided by straight and gay.
It's been a year since Osama bin Laden went down, but a debate rages on. Republicans accuse Democrats (if not Obama himself) of trying to get political mileage out of the anniversary, while Democrats (and Obama) say that Romney felt it wasn't worth spending billions of dollars to catch one man. Both factions are right, and both factions are wrong.
For three years, my political party has veered in a direction I cannot follow. And if the GOP insists on framing the 2012 election as a ballot question on fiscal and monetary austerity, or if they nominate somebody manifestly incompetent to do the job of president, they're going to lose me -- and a lot more people.