Supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are predicting nothing less than the fall of the American empire if their opponent wins the U.S. presidency this November. The Clintonites warn that a Trump victory will result in a global economic meltdown precipitated by trade and currency wars, a Russian takeover of eastern and central Europe following the collapse of NATO, a confrontation between China and nuclear-armed South Korea and Japan in the Pacific, an explosion of home-grown Islamist terrorism in response to Trump’s ban on Muslim immigration, and an acute shortage of illegal Mexican immigrant nannies and pool boys.
The Trumpians believe a Clinton presidency would be a “catastrophe” for American economic, political and military power. They also think it will lead to a ban on the phrases “Islamist terrorism” and “separate bathrooms”, repeal of the Second Amendment, a tsunami of affirmative action for everyone who is non-male, non-white and non-heterosexual, and a special room in the West Wing where Old Bill gets an unlimited supply of interns and cigars to help him orchestrate the ruin of the U.S. economy.
Many Canadians watching nervously from the north are fearing disaster no matter who wins the presidency. This is the thematic thread that runs through most of the articles in the Summer 2016 edition of C2C Journal.
We titled it Democracy in America to honour the 1835 book of the same name by Alexis de Tocqueville and to highlight the irony that what is happening in the 2016 presidential year bears almost no resemblance to what most of us – including Tocqueville – would recognize as a healthy, functioning democracy.
What it looks like instead is the mother of all reality TV shows, featuring an actual reality TV show host and real estate developer of dubious competence and integrity who won the Republican nomination by calling all his competitors stupid, ugly, impotent liars. His opponent is a career political opportunist who is dragging around so much baggage – including an FBI investigation – that she can’t even finish off her only competition for the nomination, a fossilized socialist rehashing economic balderdash they don’t even believe in Beijing or Havana anymore.
However awful it is as democracy, it is also great entertainment. Like train wrecks and epic fail videos, we can’t look away. Trump, even more than our own Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has so mastered the medium that it doesn’t matter how glib or factually unsupportable the message is, we are drawn to it like moths to flames. So you might as well resign yourself to a summer of Fox News, Politico, C2C Journal, and non-stop coverage of the battle between Hillary and The Donald for the soul of America.
Our exploration of this fateful contest begins with Trevor Shelley’s reflections on Tocqueville’s remarkably prescient hopes and fears for American democracy. Next up is John Robson, who understands why voters are mad as hell at the unholy choices before them, but suggests they should be even madder at themselves for the selfish, ignorant, hedonistic vote-sellers they have become.
Peter Shawn Taylor examines the parallels between the possible if not probable implosion of the Republican Party and what happened to Canada’s conservative movement when it cracked up nearly three decades ago. Luigi Bradizza drills deeply into the ruins of democracy in America, where a failed education system has rendered millions unemployable and incapable of fulfilling the basic responsibilities of citizenship. Jason Unrau provides some gonzo comic relief to this grim epitaph for U.S. exceptionalism by trying to persuade you that Donald Trump is, in fact, the apogee of American democracy and the pure and perfect expression of her exceptionalism.
There is more, including Patrick Keeney on the prescient work of cultural critic Neil Postman, who foretold 31 years ago what would happen when politics and popular culture became indistinguishable and Kim Kardashian’s latest cosmetic surgical enhancement became more important to most people than the latest atrocity by ISIS. Kelly Jane Torrance, a Canadian editor at the Weekly Standard, explores the parallels between the presidential races of 1968 and 2016, Tim Anderson previews what’s in store for Canada after Clinton becomes the most powerful woman on earth since Queen Victoria, J.J. McCullough investigates the ominous “alt right” movement of angry young white males, a key Trump constituency that may be the harbinger of a dangerous new radical movement in American democracy.
If this all sounds too gloomy, take heart. The Dark Ages only lasted 500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Paul Bunner is the editor of C2C Journal.