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Mike RobinsonMaybe it’s a fitting end to the baby boomer era: Donald Trump, greedy, blue-business-suited, rep-tied, absurdly orange-skinned, blond and puffy-haired, promoter of beauty contests and wrestling matches, gaudy hotels and no-thought speech, elected U.S. president.

Maybe we boomers deserve it. Lucked into life at the end of the Second World War, inheritors of non-stop economic growth for most of our lives, indulged by our parents, mostly untested by war, famine or depression, we have carbonized the world, watched TV and eaten hamburgers while deluding ourselves about our legacy.

It’s been a sweet ride – or has it?

Increasingly, the boomer legacy is vivisected by younger generations, especially millennials. I periodically get critiqued by those in my extended family for the sins of my generation. It’s hard not to react to criticism at the best of times. But entering retirement at the end of multiple careers mostly invigorated by the issues of the 1960s (social justice, environmentalism and doing business the right way), I try more vigorously to defend my generation.

I can hear the groans, and the reaction, now.

“Come on Uncle Mike, your generation polluted the troposphere, has taken way more resources than it needed or merited, created ISIL and parallel insurgencies all over the Middle East by invading Iraq, caused climate change, built up structural deficits and generally indulged itself.

“You left all the problems for us to fix. And you still insist on working and hogging the jobs that should be ours – you know, the ones with good pay, pensions and other benefits. And you are living longer than your parents, setting the stage for costly end-of-life healthcare that we’ll probably have to pay for.

“Thanks a lot.”

Added to this list now is the rise of Trump. Absurdly, he is one of us – a boomer. But somehow he has fashioned a demagogic role for himself as leader of a sizable portion of the angry and disowned from the middle-class dream. They are a polyglot mix of boomers, and presumably some gen-Xers and millennials, who share a xenophobic fear of outsiders (read competitors, the better educated, the multi- lingual, the dispossessed immigrants from boomer-started conflicts). When pressed, this group of Trump devotees blames the most rational and calm president in a lifetime, Barack Obama, for whatever they can. They pointedly love Trump’s penchant for siding with them and feeling their pain.

This penchant is really unbelievable guile. Trump takes the cake for fox-like cunning when it comes to courting the emotionally lame, halt and disowned. He positively wallows at the podium. There is no cheap theatrical trope he won’t use, and probably hasn’t used for nearly five decades as a developer and public figure. He knows how to ply the depths of human emotions and clearly enjoys adulation. Interestingly, he doesn’t have much stomach for more than a few critics, and prefers to dodge debates where the outcome is iffy. The classic bully, he flies in the face of a fair fight.

So given a rising chorus of Trump supporters, and Hillary Clinton’s cool persona in what increasingly appears to be a hot fight, what if he wins?

To start with, who can he draw upon to form his cabinet? What policy books has his team prepared to guide the transition to power? Who in the old guard of the Republican universe will inform his foreign policy decisions, or provide insider linkages and introductions to the other global leaders? How fit is the man to bear the unbelievable 24/7 pressures of office? Who would he invite to be his vice-president? How would the Senate and House react to his leadership?

Ye gods.

At best, he might be a lazy demagogue, all show and no go, a kind of cross between Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon under tight scrutiny. That seems plausible, given his utter lack of experience with the demands of public office, and his characteristic avoidance of lengthy exposure to places and events not of his choosing. Such a presidency could veer into buffoonery.

On the other hand, he might find the energy to throw his all into an exhausting first term of expletive executive orders, sycophantic nut-bar advisors and pharaonic projects – like the Great Wall of Mexico. Such behaviour would be highly provocative, with frightening potential.

Let’s hope he’s a loser.

Mike Robinson has been CEO of three Canadian NGOs: the Arctic Institute of North America, the Glenbow Museum and the Bill Reid Gallery. Mike has chaired the national boards of Friends of the Earth, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. In 2004, he became a Member of the Order of Canada.

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