REQUIEM

If people want radically different things from their government, it’s unlikely there’s going to be enough political stability to produce much of anything. So it’s a sign of a healthy society that the distance between Liberals and Conservatives in Canada is pretty much imperceptible. 

Democrats and Republicans used to be able to tell a similar story, but no longer. Since the rise of Trump’s populism four years ago. and the so-far-feckless attempts to reign it in, things south of the 49th have been getting more and more ugly by the day. So ugly, in fact, that regardless of who wins in November, there could be civil war, were it not that war requires real, as distinct from metaphorical, battle lines, and no two neighbourhoods in America are each sufficiently homogenous to make that feasible. So Democrats and Republicans have to get along at the neighbourhood level. And that, one can hope, will be the country’s saving grace.

I predict that, as with the Covid pandemic, things will get worse before they get better. But they will get better. I say this because half a century ago doctors went on strike in my native Province of Saskatchewan to protest the imposition of single-payer health care. A decade later and ever since, repealing it would have been and remains unthinkable.

There are dialectical forces at play more powerful than any vestigial ideology, on the right or the left. A generation hence Americans will come to their senses. But it’s the damage being done in the meantime that has onlookers like me shaking our heads. Damage, I suppose, that has to be done.

George Floyd didn’t die for a cause. That is, he died alone, calling for his mother, not his brothers. The cause is that of his brothers and sisters. And those of us who, but for our skin colour, would be his brothers and sisters. 

For me, the first three and a half years of the Trump administration have been risible. But the last three months have been just sad. It’s a sadness that’s drifted north across the border. It’s “a feeling of sadness and longing that is not akin to pain, but resembles sorrow only as the mist resembles the rain.”

I don’t know what to do with this sadness. I try to jolly it away with analysis infused with humour. But it’s like the cat. It comes back. I do thank God I was born Canadian. But it saddens me that I do. 

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