PUNTA NIZUC, MEXICO May 3, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Donald Trump, the bilious billionaire who is edging ever-closer to the Oval Office, wants to build a great big wall between Mexico and the United States. He says he is going to get Mexicans to pay for it.
The reason? Mexicans are “rapists,” he says. “Murderers,” too.
Now, like everyone else, Mexicans have been transfixed by the ongoing psychodrama that is Donald Trump. They’ve watched, for months, as a horrified Republican establishment – and then a perplexed Democrat establishment – have tried to come to grips with Trump’s undeniable momentum.
They’re not big fans. Former Mexican president Vincente Fox called Trump “racist and ignorant” for what he said about Mexico. He said Trump’s anti-Mexican insults – which the short-fingered vulgarian has repeated over and over – were “disgraceful and highly offensive.”
“He thinks building the ‘Trump Wall’ will right every wrong in the United States,” Fox said. “Indeed, he’s built a huge mental wall around himself already, which doesn’t allow him to see the greatness of our people.”
Mexico is indeed great. It was the place where five complex civilizations came into being some 13,000 years ago – and several centuries before pink-skinned (or, in Trump’s case, orange-skinned) Europeans arrived. The Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Toltec, and Aztec indigenous peoples were innovating in architecture, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theology while Donald Trump’s ancestors were still dragging their hirsute knuckles around in what would later become Rhineland Germany.
Anyway. It’s hard to spend too much time thinking about a subject as ugly as Trumpism, in a place as beautiful as this. But, as his team’s sturmabteilung (storm trooper) march gets closer to the prize in Cleveland, we need to. Can he be stopped?
Take it from visiting Canadians, Mexican allies: Trump-style politicians can indeed be beaten. Up in the frigid North, we had extended exposure to a variant on the Trump genus: former Ford Nation.
Once unstoppable, Ford Nation was ultimately defeated by that uniquely Canadian personality trait: relentless, plodding civility.
Ford Nation, many Americans will perhaps recall, was just as offensive, and just as bigoted, and just as out-of-control as is Donald Trump. Despite all that, its champion Rob Ford won a landslide victory in the mayoral race in Canada’s largest and most diverse city in 2010 – and his brother Doug very nearly repeated the feat in 2014.
Rob became famous for all the wrong reasons. He denied smoking crack cocaine, then admitted he had indeed smoked it while in office. He denied drinking and driving – and reading and driving – but those things turned out to be true, too.
He used racial epithets to describe non-white Torontonians, who form a majority in that city of some five million. He said and did awful things; he swore at people and got drunk in public.
For a time, Ford was more famous that Michael J. Fox, Celine Dion and Arcade Fire all put together. He appeared on Jimmy Kimmel. He was international news – day after interminable day.
Instead of denouncing him, Toronto voters laughed at him. Instead of seeking his ouster, they indicated they would be willing to vote for him again. Instead of opposing him, they lined up to get selfies taken with him – or they stood in queues to purchase his bobble-head doll, conveniently sold right out of the Office of the Mayor of Toronto.
Pundits and politicos roundly and angrily condemned Rob Ford, naturally. Political panel talking heads would intone – again and again – that, this time, he had gone too far. But with every elite dismissal, Ford Nation grew more popular. Some Torontonians loved how Rob and Doug Ford enraged the establishment.
Ford Nation voters, in the main, were angry, older white men living in Toronto’s inner suburbs. They lacked post-secondary education and riches. The more the media and the elites attacked Ford, the more they liked him. Sound familiar?
And then, around the time that Ford was planning another run at the mayor’s office, something unexpected happened. Rob Ford started to lose. Because Torontonians had become weary of all the drama.
When the city’s 2014 municipal election rolled around, Ford Nation’s principal challenger turned out to be a calm, thoughtful, inoffensive former business executive named John Tory. Tory – against whom, full disclosure, I had briefly campaigned with another candidate – was the embodiment of wholesome Canadianess. Compared to Ford, he was a bit boring. He was nice.
And it worked. He won.
Many years earlier, Tory had been chief of staff to the long-serving Ontario Premier Bill Davis. Davis famously personified the “bland works” formula, and always did his utmost to be as unexciting as possible. Tory did likewise. He beat Ford Nation decisively.
Politicians (or, more accurately, anti-politicians) like Rob Ford and Donald Trump are cut from the same cloth. They have no legislative accomplishments to speak of. They have no overriding policy goal. They simply are the ultra-conservative millionaire sons of millionaire fathers. So, to get noticed, they talk LOUDER. They are more OUTRAGEOUS. They say things NO ONE ELSE WILL.
For a while, as Rob Ford showed, that sort of demented populism will work. Then, eventually, it doesn’t.
The Ford Nation movement was defeated – just as Trump’s can and will be beaten – for this reason: After a while, average folks simply get tired of being at the circus all the time. Even if they distrust or dislike government – as many Canadians and Americans and Mexicans increasingly do – they just want to go home, watch TV, and not hear from politicians anymore.
Want to defeat Donald Trump? Don’t be outraged and offended. Be Canadian instead: wear him down with civility and honesty and decency.
Trump, like Ford, won’t know what hit him. Wall or no wall.
Troy Media columnist Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator. Warren is also included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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