I thank my husband for contributing this opinion piece. As Canadians we are daily influenced and affected by the news and politics of our closest neighbours. We care deeply about our American friends.
Visiting with a friend last week, we chatted about the current state of political affairs in the United States. There was a time I enjoyed political discussions but lately I try to avoid these because in today’s world, it can bring out, I dare say, more than a passionate spectrum of views, especially when the topic turns to President Donald Trump. There is just no middle ground here, either you think he is the second coming or believed to represent all that is bad in the world with the debater speaking the loudest feeling they have made the stronger argument – so I write this with a sense of trepidation.
For the record, I would consider myself a moderate conservative, however in the last Canadian Federal election I voted “Green” largely because of my general disappointment with Trudeau and also what I would consider the Conservative’s lack luster platform and campaign. In my view, there is currently a void of political leadership in Canada.
My friend, no different than most people has fairly intense views regarding President Trump. He sides on the need for impeachment and has concerns about how far “Right Wing” Mr. Trump seems to have taken the American people; our discussion pausing from time to time to listen to CNN News being televised in the corner of the room.
Regarding the President, I think he was elected because the average American was willing to try anything for change, not unlike other countries, true change that could only come from an outsider away from the usual figures within the political system. Even the “old guard” within the Republican Party fought Mr. Trump’s nomination with a fervor rarely seen. In the United States and the rest of the world there is an ever expanding gap between the wealthy few and the average person and I think Americans are tired of watching US statespeople being praised for their long terms of service while the vast majority of these are multi-millionaires, their families are wealthy, their children will be wealthy and their grandchildren will be wealthy – this in itself fueling the desire for political power. Do I think the President and his policies are good or bad, only history will tell but Americans have voted and will have an opportunity to vote again, so I will not go down that rat-hole. I do wish President Trump would clean up his attacking bedside manner and social media dialogue.
What concerns and alarms me is how the polarization of the “Left” and “Right” is in part being fueled by sources of mainstream media. The two leading offenders being CNN and Fox News. In the United States the majority of the media market is controlled by just a few media giants and these media giants are huge contributors to political candidates and have a significant impact on the way people feel and think. Somehow this just feels wrong!
When I watch or listen to CNN and Fox news, I find it difficult not to believe that these organizations are tools of the political system – each tempering questions and twisting information in order to support their obvious and very different political agendas. I believe that these organizations have lost their journalistic integrity and represent sources of propaganda and in some cases no less dangerous than state-controlled news agencies as found in places like Russia or China.
Hence the coined phrase “Fake News”. While President Trump likes to take credit for the phrase and not the first President to take credit for something beyond their grasp, many people agree that the term was first popularized by Craig Silverman – surprise, surprise a Canadian and the media editor of BuzzFeed.
I believe that the political polarization and divisions that exist are being driven by money and power. Okay, no revelation here. There are also those that say limiting Congressional terms is the answer. There is a glut of information available regarding the pros and cons here and even President Trump rallied on this topic. The last time this was taken to the max it was ruled down by the Supreme Court in 1995 and said to require a constitutional amendment. By the way, members of the Supreme Court are confirmed by the Senate. Nevertheless, I would say that at a minimum purse strings need to be examined and political contributions need to be more transparent, scrutinized and perhaps more controlled.
In the meantime, I will avoid media that seems to have an agenda and will try to look for a middle ground; remembering that talking louder does not mean you are right!