Here are the red button non-issues in America today, that have spilt over into Canada: 

Covid is what it is, until some day it isn’t. And the economy is what it is until, like Covid, it’s not. So that leaves the whose-lives-matter question, and whether people whose lives haven’t mattered should protest peacefully or show some real anger.

The problem with peaceful protest is that it relies on sympathy. With sympathy, plus 35 cents, you can make a local phone call. But the problem with anger is that all it triggers is alarm. Note, for example, that no one cared to ask what grievances might have driven those nineteen brave young men to do what they did that Tuesday morning. 

So so long as the rioting stays downtown, what’s that to the suburban housewife?! For years now she’s been doing her shopping at the big box stores. And there just aren’t a whole lot of windows to smash in a Home Depot parking lot.

So I think the pundits are wrong to think Trump is trying to set the suburban housewife and the black ‘marauder’ against each other, and hoping the former can outvote the latter. He is hoping the suburb can outvote the inner city, but he’s counting on the fear of redistributive taxation rather than of crime to do the work.

For their part, the Dems already have the inner city. And to keep it they have to  take from the suburbs. So they can’t win the pocketbook argument. They have to rely on enough voters giving ear to their better angels. This is why Biden is right to characterize this election as being about “the soul of the nation”.

Of course in this sense every election is about the soul of the nation. Which is why every election has the same basic structure. The difference this time round, if difference there be, the reason why there’s so much talk of polarization, is the distance between the poles. And the additional cultural values driving that distance. So, for example, Trump, who couldn’t give a shit about God or the unborn, is shamelessly playing to the Christian right, while nigh-octogenarian Biden is pretending he’s known all along that some women have penises.

As I’ve said before, as a Canadian I have very little skin in the game, except to say that, qua entertainment, American presidential politics is the gift that keeps on giving.

Categories: Editorials

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2 replies

  1. Speaking of every election having the “same basic structure”, compare the SOTU, State of the Union Address(es), especially over the past 20-30 years with each other. For fun, cover over who delivered the speech, and when, and then see if you can guess which party he belongs to. Not as easy as you think! Why? SOTUs share the same basic structure … something like the economy, the poor, hard-working people, middle class, military, got some bad guys, solidarity: yay us!, and there’s hope!

    Why do I mention the SOTU speeches here? Their structure and content maps onto election rhetoric. Sit back, make popcorn, and watch for patterns.

    btw, I’m sure you’ll find the same kinds of things and similar structures in political rhetoric the world over. There’s only so many things humans do and only so many ways to do them.


  2. “The political orator aims at establishing the expediency* or the harmfulness of a proposed course of action; if he urges its acceptance, he does so on the grounds it will do good; if he urges its rejection, he does so on the grounds that it will do harm; and all other points, such as whether the proposal is just or unjust, honourable or dishonourable, he brings in as subsidiary and relative to this main consideration.” (Aristotle. Rhetoric. Trans. W. Rhys Roberts. Dover Publications, 2004. p 13)

    *By expediency is meant the fit (suitability) of some course of action with the likelihood that it will achieve some desired end or goal.


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