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Mike RobinsonI haven’t met anybody up on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast who is pointedly rooting for Donald Trump. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Loggers at the liquor store, fishermen at the marina, boat mechanics, BC Hydro foremen, retired neighbours, the PRISMA summer music festival volunteers, Rene at Rene’s Pasta – nobody I talk to is impressed with the guy. His message is escaping the body politic where I live. And yet every day the Canadian media, which up here is largely the CBC and the Globe and Mail, keeps pumping up the animus of the Donald.

Many of the people I talk to in town don’t understand how a candidate who is so relentlessly racist and so xenophobic could be so liked. They also don’t get how he could still be denying climate change. And what about openly inciting violence with comments at rallies, and making affirmative statements about international bullies, like Vladimir Putin? And then there are the bizarre comments about his daughter’s beauty, his numerous wives and his manhood.

When have we ever heard a candidate for the most important political post in the world talk like this? Never.

Maybe it’s just a last, final U.S. infatuation with BIG. Americans in the boomer era have enjoyed the biggest economic expansion ever, and the biggest bust since the Great Depression. They have the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, the biggest navy, army and air force, and the biggest tanks, bombers, aircraft carriers and rockets. Detroit still assembles the biggest SUVs, and, painted black, they haul the wealthiest and most powerful around all the international blocks.

Trump is certainly synonymous with BIG. He is noticeably bigger in his trademark blue suits, red ties and white shirts these last few months. He definitely has BIG hair. In fact, my barber pointed out last week that the world’s two biggest and weirdest hairstyles belong to the world’s biggest and weirdest politicians – Trump and Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the Worker’s Party of North Korea. How’s that for local colour commentary?

Then there’s the whole development industry schtick with BIG. Trump Towers everywhere are not noted for their graceful architecture or urban liveability. They are all about BIGGEST, TALLEST, MOST EXPENSIVE, and REALLY GAUDY VENEERS.

OK, I’ll stop with the caps now – you get the message. The Trump architecture is designed to convey a kind of shameless, tasteless power that is obvious to all. In fact, if you don’t get it, the implication is that you must be stupid.

The British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley unwittingly wrote about this Trumpy development vanity is his sonnet Ozymandias: “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Never mind that all that remained of the statue when Shelley wrote the poem were, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone,” and “Near them, on the sand, Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read . . .”

Sound familiar? Whose face does it immediately conjure up in your imagination?

Maybe this is all we need to really understand about the Trump campaign. Maybe we should just dismiss it as a trumped up effort to make a final statement about U.S. greatness, exceptionalism and manifest destiny. Maybe all that is really needed to finally proclaim victory is the construction of a wall around the U.S. to keep the barbarians, the Vandals, Huns and Visigoths, and whoever else is unwelcome, out.

This too sounds familiar, kind of like the Fall of Rome in the 4th century AD when the empire finally collapsed and the Goths took over. Maybe the world is watching the final act of the final presumptive emperor. Perhaps it has all just become too much.

Disruption is all about us. The climate is changing. The age of oil is coming to a close. The Chinese economy is poised to become number 1 in the world. The U.S. middle class can’t get decent jobs. Teslas are replacing Tahoes. Uber is replacing Black Top. Airbnb is replacing Hilton. University degrees don’t get you jobs. It seems like the only certainty is disruptive change.

And if you don’t like it, vote for Trump. Because he still believes that BIGGER is better.

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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