• tỷ lệ bóng đá 24 giờ

    Glen Pearson

    A New Diabolical Politics is Being Born

    Posted on November 28, 2019

    For those watching the impeachment hearings in Washington there has been one overriding enigma that transcends all else: despite strong evidence presented by non-partisan diplomats and bureaucrats, nothing seems to budge Republican support for the president.??It’s uncanny, truth-defying and infuriating all at the same time.

    This post isn’t about Donald Trump or his guilt/innocence, but rather how a new kind of politics has now infused many democracies around the world, but especially in America.?

    Since, from the beginning, almost every Republican politician or party apparatchik despised Trump, why are they presently kowtowing to the president, even as they continue to express their contempt for him???They have always known he felt no special affinity for their party.??In fact, he changed his party affiliation six times altogether between 1987 and 2012.??Sometimes he’d profess to be a Democrat, a Republican or even an Independent.??He only registered with the Republican party in 2012 as he explored the possibility of running for president.

    Researchers and political scientists Matt Grossman and Dave Hopkins have attempted to understand this phenomenon for the past two years.??Concluding that Democrats are held together by shared policy goals, Republicans nevertheless hang together through opinions and values.??And fundamental to those values is partisanship.??Being a Republican now matters more than anything else, even if there are no policies at all.

    This explains a lot, but not everything.??Grossman and Hopkins discovered that Republican politicians now feel more vulnerable than times previous – incumbency is not as powerful as before.??They required something more and that something is now a someone – Donald Trump.??He knows all about self-promotion, how to focus on only one part of the economy that gets business coverage, and comes with a solid base of support.??So, if you hope to win again, the Oval Office resident brings with him a full package.??And once you hop on his bandwagon, you discover that you can’t get off because he will target you for all out political assault from his base.??You can get on, you can never get off – if you hope to win again, that is.

    And that’s just it.??This kind of politics depends more on the leader than it does on his party.??The only hope of winning is to follow him, regardless of his conduct.??How else to explain Republicans in the House and Senate who support someone who coddles the leader of America’s number one foe, Russia???Trump also lends veiled support to racists, terrorizes immigrants and turns his back on the very world order of security and economy Republicans helped to build.??In truth, most of these Republicans cringe at such values, but feel they now have to stay on the Trump train as their only way of establishing political tenure.??It’s diabolical in scope.

    As it became apparent that both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were guilty of their own crimes, members of their respective parties began peeling away, saying the price of their support was something beneath both America and Americans.??The Trump experiment of impeachment is revealing a new way of doing politics by separating loyal Republicans from their party and in favour of an individual who is comfortable with undoing the Republican legacy that is, in itself, significant.

    I suppose that in some way we should be thankful that Donald Trump arrived on the scene.???Through his presence in the White House we came to understand that intolerance, bigotry, even hatred, held more of a presence in our communities than we understood.??We understand that the historic status quo and its abiding ineptitude helped to create the conditions for his ascendancy.??And we now see that democracy can only survive through endless struggle on the part of all those who love it.

    Should all this evasion, blind loyalty and open denunciation of career civil servants be permitted to stand, then politics itself will never be the same, simply because unprincipled power seekers will understand that they can circumvent the ethical principles and democratic guidelines established over centuries.

    Democracy is about struggle, not the freedom from it.??Should we opt out, then we really never understood it in the first place – or as William James put it:

    “If this life be not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the world by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will.”?

    Image credit: Unsplash

    The Domino Decade

    Posted on November 26, 2019

    For those of us who don’t study history all that much, it’s an easy thing to believe that nation states have been with us since ancient times.??But that’s not really the case.??It surprises many to learn that the nation state system, as we know it, has only been with us for a century – since the fledgling efforts of U. S. president Woodrow Wilson attempted to launch the League of Nations following the debacle that was World War One.??

    There always countries that existed prior to that time, but their relationship with one another looked nothing like what we have now.??Some nations were merely proxies of other more powerful countries and “empire” was the name of the game in the 18th?and 19th?centuries.

    The First World War, and the millions of lives lost, revealed to everyone just how catastrophic and unfair the world had become.??While many called for the end of war, Wilson energetically sought to put in place a global infrastructure that brought together nations in an effort to build peace, establish trade and the movement of goods, and to seek global justice.??That had been a difficult thing to establish prior to then since countries themselves weren’t subject to any laws but their own.

    To accomplish his goals, Wilson built international institutions that would form a “society of nations” that could eventually usher in a new era of peace and economic growth.??It struggled for a time in formation but eventually lost its path once the Cold War divided the world following the Second World War.??Suddenly, things began to resemble the “empire” era that Wilson had so valiantly attempted to escape.??The goal of all nations having the right to self-determination was washed away by great superpowers that played with the world like a chess board and ran satellite nations to extend and protect their holdings.??The United States, Soviet Union and even China took the world back to a more difficult time.??Rich countries became richer, poor countries remained mired in their poverty.??And hope of a society of nations fell under the carving knives of the rich and powerful.

    All three of these developments have themselves fallen into disarray.??The rich and affluent nations are now in decline as global forces like populism, corporate dominance, and the re-emergence of nuclear competition, racism and regional conflicts continue to eat away at their history, heritage and progress.??And as the old Cold War has disappeared, troubled poorer nations are themselves on the verge of anarchy.??There is hardly anyone around anymore who talks of a glorious future of peace among the nations and the dawn of a new global age of affluence and tranquility.??The world is on a new path, but one that is more dangerous than what this generation is used to.

    Previously, it was usually the nation state that was the absolute, with everything else being expendable.??Now, the historic definition and practice of “the nation” is under attack, as forces internal and external seek to break up those institutions and laws that once made countries so enduring.??Think Brexit, the collapse of global trade deals, the American decline into lawlessness, the troubling disruptions in Latin American countries, the attack on minorities by the government of China and Russia’s endless meddling in the former Soviet Union satellite countries and you get the idea.

    What seemed impossible even a decade ago has now become life in real time.??To most of us, the world seems to be coming apart.??Despite numerous examples of success, the overall structure of how nations functioned together now seems to be morphing into something else entirely.??

    For citizens and organizations, a fundamental problem has arisen: how to function in a world with less law, more vigilantism of different kinds, and deteriorating conditions between nations themselves???For example, since climate change is a global reality, how do you bring about a united action to defeat it when nations themselves have broken away from traditional norms for getting along???Think of other developments like human trafficking, terrorism or the increasing flow of refugees and it gets difficult to see how to overcome universal challenges when countries are increasingly going it alone.??

    We are now growing used to a world where the lead nations and global organizations are growing incompetent and less collaborative.??And as it leads to low grade racism, alt-right populism and the decline of democracy itself, we are left to wonder how to navigate this increasingly more complicated world.??As nations rise and fall and eventually grow apart from one another, the sense of dominos falling is acute.??More attention needs to be given to how citizens, their representatives and organizations, can stop the toppling instead of just merely grousing around about the problems.?That will take enlightened leaders and followers willing to sacrifice.

    There has been much that is erroneous and unfulfilled in the world order we have known, yet it proved remarkably successful at pulling us out of the darker side of history.??To keep from sliding back, we must support those efforts to keep our nations together on the progressive path.??Should we opt out of that responsibility, history will return with a vengeance.

    Photo credit: Maclean's

    Remembrance Day Redux

    Posted on November 14, 2019

    I had to speak for a Remembrance Day service this past weekend and it prompted memories of how my father, wounded during the Second World War and enduring a lengthy convalescence, said virtually nothing about his experiences to his family.??What I learned of his activities came from when he was with his war buddies following the conflict.??For them it was permissible to talk through the horrors and the good times, but for the rest of us – nothing.??I have heard that same story repeated countless times from other families concerning their returning loved ones.

    It’s a bit easier to understand that behaviour now that I’ve gotten older.??Part of that comes from reading the poems he wrote for the Calgary Herald during the war.??They are indeed painful to read and beautiful in their poignancy.??The pathos in his thoughts is as real as anything I have read.??His ideals were dashed.??He stopped mentioning God partway through the conflict.????He wrote of how the romantic moon and warlike Mars were ever at odds with one another.??Wondering if the conflict he was enduring was really creating the effect he had hoped for was a common theme he returned to again and again.??He wanted to go home.

    And yet he remained, just like millions of others.??And it is that remaining that was the source of his silence, I believe, after he returned home.??By staying in a never-ending macabre kind of humanity, he learned that it could only be endured by suppressing it, hiding it deep in a soul that was already battle hardened and barren.??Over time, his poems, still infused with a sense of fighting for the right, nevertheless reveal a man who had lost his place in it all and who questioned if he was, in fact, making the difference he had hoped he might.??A war that was lasting six years felt like an eternity and, like anyone digging in for a long hard passage, he lowered his expectations and soldiered on.

    But the cost for that consistency was enormous.??

    He went to war as a young man with a remarkable sense of humour and returned as a man saddened by all he saw.??Human morality was really something soldiers, sailors and airmen couldn’t afford to think about because their lives were being turned upside-down.??Ideas of right and wrong, enemies and allies, evil and good, righteous and sound – these were for those back home to be consoled with.??Stripped of ideals, war had become something more akin to animal survival than human triumph.

    And yet those serving did have one thing that transcended everything else – each other.???It is vital to remember that the average age of a Canadian soldier in the Second World War was 18 or 19, once the officer ranks were taken out of the total.??They needed one another more than anything else and to each other they vowed their fealty.??

    What we gave these youthful recruits were guns and bullets, planes and ships, bombs and grenades – resources hardly conducive to the high schools they had just left.??Surely their recruiters must have known that teenagers were never going to come out of the conflict the same way they entered it.??Those lucky enough to survive came home as seasoned warriors, but their youth was gone and in the place of humanity was a kind of haunting.?

    We now know that what each of them carried was PTSD.??They had trouble connecting to peace following their return because the war was destined to leave them forever troubled.??They arrived back in Canada, serenaded and lauded, but for the veterans themselves the sentiments of Siegfried Sasoon, in his?Suicide in the Trenches,??became their bitter gruel:

    You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
    Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
    Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
    The hell where youth and laughter go.

    Haunted teenagers are really what Remembrance Day is about.??Some 700,000 Canadian soldiers under the age of 21 served in World War Two.??Too many died.??Too many were maimed.??And we are learning that too many took their own lives after they returned.??No wonder it was easier for the returnees to rebuild their lives in a kind of respectful silence.??They earned it and we must seek to understand it.

    Remember our Future

    Posted on November 11, 2019

    Remembrance Day in Canada has always been something of a Rite of Passage.??Seeping into our collective DNA over the decades, it is observed by millions of Canadians, from children to the oldest veterans.

    Over time, it has become a national observance most associated with older age.??Largely, that is because the wars with the greatest losses occurred either a century or 70 or so years ago.??The fatalities were enormous, the cost horrific, and the effects on the Canadian psyche enduring.

    The reality is, however, was that participation in these world conflicts was actually about youth.??Some 700,000 Canadians under the age of 21 served in uniform in World War Two, with even more in World War One.??Stories are replete concerning 13-year-olds, lying about their age, attempting to enlist, with a few actually succeeding because of their size.??Hundreds of others, understanding they couldn’t make it to the front, nevertheless joined the Merchant Navy and made their own mark on the conflict.

    There are thousands of letters stored in memory boxes, file folders, and archives across the country that celebrated the birthdays of those turning 17, 18 and 19 while in serving in Europe.

    In a Canadian war cemetery in France lies a monument to the youngest Canadian soldier to die at Normandy.??He was only 16 when he was killed.

    It is hard to imagine people so young serving in such drastic and frequently tragic circumstances.??They were provided airplanes, ships, tanks, guns, bayonets, bombs and bullets to carry the war against the Axis forces.??They likely volunteered for conflict for what they perceived was the glory of battle, only to discover its macabre realities.??The average age of these Canadian combatants was 19, once the numbers of officers are taken out of the mix.

    In other words, teenagers are largely what Remembrance Day is about.??We are dedicated to never forgetting them, yet barely understand the horrors that must have plagued their young minds in global conflict.??

    And we mustn’t forget those who came home wounded in mind and body – 172,000 in the First World War and 55,000 in the Second.??Even the young who remained at home felt the effects of the battles across the ocean.??They filled in on the farms and factories, and the minimum age for driving was reduced to 14 so that they could take part in the domestic efforts to support the wars.

    One of the great hidden secrets of these conflicts has only begun to emerge in recent years, as we discover that thousands took their own lives after returning home.??What we now know as PTSD plagued their post-war days and nights and it all eventually became too much.

    It was to the young that Canada entrusted its future in time of conflict and it is becoming time to do so again – not so much for armed combat, but to fight for a better environment, the struggle against racism, prejudice, gender discrimination, violence and a new kind of politics.??The peace most recently secured following the closure of the Second World War is in danger of tearing at the seams and it will be the young generations to whom a better future will now be entrusted – not the politicians, economic barons, or the status quo.??If we once believed they were necessary for war, then it stands to reason that we must turn to them again to secure a more equitable peace.??Their young forebears fought and died for that right and their modern counterparts must now take up that torch.?

    One young 19 year-old Canadian soldier laying dying on a battlefield in France in 1944, with a friend from his Saskatchewan regiment watching over him, provided his final thoughts, and they are pure:

    “It looks like I won’t make it this time, Will. Tell my mother and father than I love them – my sister Elizabeth too. Tell them I’m sorry I won’t be home to help with the harvest. This isn’t how we thought this war would be, is it Will? Maybe people won’t even know that I am gone. I hope they do, Will. I hope they do.”

    We will remember him and the millions of others who perished in pursuit of a better humanity. Their sacrifice secured our future.

    Image credit: Stanford Review

    Rebuilding our Political Humanity

    Posted on November 8, 2019

    So many elections.??So much hype.??Politics everywhere, all the time – inescapable.??In all of this our political representatives and citizens have grown apart – kind of like a partnership that somehow grew distant and fell into suspicion.

    With the dust of this recent federal election now settled, we must sit down together and discern how we have arrived at the state where our politics is alienating us and our citizenship reflects that reality as opposed to transcending it.

    For many, perhaps most, politicians aren’t really people anymore but advertisers of a certain political spectrum that seems more important than the delivery of effective democracy itself.??We don’t really know them and instead become more familiar with their image on television, or in social and traditional media, and as indivisible from their political parties.??We have come to accept them as members of tribes as opposed to sincere individuals, which most politicians are, who entered the public domain to actually make it better.

    It is likely that the vast majority of voters will never meet politicians in real life, unless they attend rallies or have certain needs that only the politician can ameliorate.??Other than that, they don’t exist except during manic election seasons or as appendages of the party.??This irks us, since even when we find a political aspirant that we really like, we can’t just vote for her, or him, but must opt for the party they represent as well.??Parties aren’t a bad thing, per se,??but they remain organizations that exists for their own sake and purposes, making it difficult for a politician to separate themselves from that association.??As a result, it’s a hard thing for us to be familiar with politicians anymore, since it’s almost impossible to imagine them as decent people outside of their political environment.

    That’s the politician; what about the voter???That’s just it: the voter is only seen for their political potential as well.??When it’s all said and done, this person matters to the system simply because once in a while they enter a little cardboard booth, pick up a pencil, make a mark, and then head back to their daily lives.??They come to matter because they have the power to select, but not the potential to partner.

    Inevitably it seems, voters become this kind of faceless group that appears occasionally in things like polls or the rare demonstration.??They are something to be processed when required, but other than that kept docile by the offering of certain perks.

    It has all become a sad state of affairs, for it means that the true essence of decision-making – debate, ideas, interaction, emotion, compromise – is rarely achieved by these two groups that actually require one another for legitimacy.??Politicians are reticent to depart from the party line, whereas citizens are increasingly inclined to do the opposite.??Democracy requires both, thus our political environment is in decline.

    Put plainly: citizens and their representatives, while normally human beings desiring to be truly human, accountable, taking responsibility for their actions and opinions, are becoming steadily depersonalized and distant from one another – a chasm only further deepened and widened by the false promises of “social” media.??It all seems to become assembly line civilization – interchangeable parts, marketing, bottom line, deadening.

    For a world becoming alienating and infuriatingly difficult to alter, it seems that the only real hope is the ripping away of the fa?ade and the reconnection with other human beings, so that we might deliberate together.??We need an update and retooled version of the Renaissance – that time when creativity thrived, people awoke to their personal and collective potential, and the exploring of the possible.??It would mean that community, and how we carry it, becomes something we create, not fight over.??

    History reminds us that our humanity is often rescued when we are in danger of losing it.??Politician and citizen alike must rediscover one another in dark and foreboding environment and create a “new birth of freedom,” as Lincoln would put it.??The best time to do that isn’t during an election, but following it.??This is the opportunity our political leaders now face, since a diverse electoral outcome provides us with only two choices: collaborate or splinter again.??It is also the time when citizens can attempt to get past the incomplete choices of selecting one party over others and, instead, building communities for all.