In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in Tuesday’s election, I’ve had many discussions about the ways in which Canada and the United States differ. At a fundamental level, our values appear to be different.
It is a difference between valuing the individual and valuing the community.
There’s been a great deal of criticism directed at “lefties” and “lieberals” who just can’t take a loss; who are “crybabies” taking to the street to throw their “temper tantrum;” who label everyone who voted for Trump as racists and bigots. That last point is the one we hear the most about. People who voted for a racist and a bigot are upset that they’re being called racists and bigots themselves.
So, let me be very clear here: I have not, at any point in the discussions about Trump’s supporters, suggested they are all racists and bigots. I don’t think they are. Certainly some of them are, but not all of them, probably not even most of them.
That said, a lot of people who are not racists and bigots still voted for a man who is objectively racist and a bigot. There is no disputing that about him. It’s what he is. His words and actions have made this clear time and again.
But here’s my point about how Canada and the United States differ at a fundamental level.
When it came time to decide if a racist, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, xenophobic bully who brags about sexually assaulting women with a somewhat flawed business history was the right person to be president or if a woman with a somewhat flawed political history was the right person to be president, nearly 60 million people voted for the racist, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, xenophobic bully who brags about sexually assaulting women.
Presumably, this was done on the premise of needing change.
People voted for Trump because they are “anti-establishment.” They voted for Trump because they feel he can help their economic situation. They voted for Trump because they believe him to be a successful businessman (even with stacks of evidence to the contrary).
In short, nearly 60 million people voted in their own self-interest. They felt their way of life was threatened and voted for a man who has vowed to change legislation in a way that will actually threaten the lives of others.
Never mind the nearly 50% of voters who stayed home. Nearly half of voters who didn’t care enough to show up and cast a ballot to say: I will stand against this.
They (the voters and the abstainers) put aside any concern for the well-being of their neighbours and colleagues and friends and family members who might not be white or might be gay or might be disabled or might be transgender or might enjoy bodily autonomy and the right to make one’s own decisions about reproduction and voted for a man who threatens all of those things.
So, those who voted for Trump may not be racists and bigots, but in supporting a racist and a bigot, they are – in many ways – no better than those who are racists and bigots.
Just north of the border, when Canada was faced with a party leader and some (then) top-ranking MPs who were promising things like a “barbaric cultural practices” hotline and to ban niqabs and the like, Canadians turned out in droves (as far as elections in developed nations go) to take a stand and vote against hatred and bigotry. Just shy of 70% of eligible voters turned up not necessarily to vote for the Liberals but to vote against the Conservatives and their threats to Canadian values; their threats to Canada as a diverse nation.
Today, with the leadership of the Conservative party up for grabs, I see numerous people – including Conservatives – criticizing one leadership hopeful for her ideas around bringing Trump’s message to Canada.
Now, whilst I am an idealist and an optimist, I am not naive enough to believe that what’s happened in the last several months in the U.K. and the U.S. could not also happen here in Canada, but right now – at least – all signs point to Canadians valuing diversity too much for us to support such a candidate and threaten the lives of the people who would be the target of hatred and bigotry.
And that is how we differ.