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Some thoughts from a smug Canadian on the circus that is the Republican primaries

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I don’t know if it is just that the times have changed, or that Americans are that different than we Canadians, but I am watching the political battles playing out south of the border with a disbelief, a sadness, and, admittedly, also with a bit of smugness.

I know the American political system is terribly broken, perhaps beyond repair, with the game so rigged in favour of the rich and powerful. And while that may have made the ground fertile for such opposites as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the only thing in common is that they are both anti-establishment, it’s the level of the discourse on the Republican side that should be worrying to all of us.

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How low and juvenile the party of Abraham Lincoln has come. No point going chapter and verse on Trump, but isn’t it a damning indictment that those trying to defeat him for the nomination have resorted to the same type of schoolyard taunts?

And let’s compare with our country. Warning – smug alert.

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In Canada, in the 1993 election campaign, the Conservatives ran a TV ad that focused on Chretien’s facial paralysis, thinking, I guess that they could score some votes with the suggestion it would be an embarrassment to have someone who looked like that as Prime Minister. In fact a line in the spot had a supposed average Canadian saying "I would be very embarrassed if he became Prime Minister of Canada."

To our credit the Canadians were outraged. Some argue it was that attack ad that sealed the Tories’ fate. If it wasn’t the spot, it may have been Chretien’s perfect response, saying, “God gave me this physical defect, but I have accepted it” Ouch.

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Twenty-three years and a country away, Trump challenger Mario Rubio suggests Trump should sue whoever gave him that face. If Trump was sharper, he would have invoked a Chretien-like response. Imagine how well that would have played with the powerful religious Right. Rubio would be toast. But that’s not Trump. Instead, he insults Rubio saying he sweats too much and how disgusting it is. And so it goes. The level of discourse is what you would find in a grade school playground. Oh yeah – well your grandmother wears army boots!

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But as low as it has gotten, with the quality of candidates the worst in the history of the country – every one of those Republican hopefuls is a climate change denier for god’s sakes, and one of them, Trump, at first refused to disavow former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke’s endorsement, but still, or maybe because of it, I find it impossible to turn away. And I wonder where’s the outrage from the average American amid all of this? The partisans aside, they must just be beside themselves? Or is the spectacle just so unbelievable, they have given up. Can’t say I’d blame them.

There is much to be said as well for the way the American media is covering this circus, compared to how the Canadian media covered our recent election, but that’s a different blog for another day. 

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