Alberta Politics

How did 59 million Americans come to support a loud-mouthed boor?

There will be plenty of analysis in the coming weeks about the results of the United States Presidential election focusing on how Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. As many people around the world will have done today, I have spent many distracted hours trying to understand the consequences of this election. While I do not wish to be alarmist I cannot help but find the result very troubling.

Among the things that trouble me about this election is the threat that the views and behaviour of Mr. Trump and his more extreme supporters will become seen as acceptable in mainstream American politics. It is obvious that Mr. Trump successfully tapped into a deep-seated fear and anxiety among Americans and that his hollow call to “Make America Great Again” resonated. But I remain astonished that more than 59 million Americans voted for an offensive loud-mouthed boor who spent the past 17 months spewing racist, xenophobic, sexist and misogynist hatred on the campaign trail.

Even more mind-boggling to understand is that the man who launched his political career as the de-facto leader of the “birther” movement, a racist conspiracy theory aimed at undermining Barack Obama’s presidency, will now succeed America’s first African-American President.

The dog whistles are now megaphones, and we need to ensure that these toxic politics do not infect our national discourse with hatred and fear. Politicians like Conservative Party leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, must be challenged when they call for racist “Canadian values” tests for immigrants. And political forces that target women with sexist attacks, like those levelled against Sandra Jansen and Donna Kennedy-Glans, must not be allowed to succeed in their goal of driving progressive, moderate and reasoned voices out of our politics.

The results of the American election are deeply disturbing and they should be a call for all Canadians to stand up for values that protect inclusivity, diversity and respect.

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