By Dr David Laing Dawson
We must pick our leaders wisely.
Russia currently has Mr. Putin, the Macho Man. He loves nothing more than to bare his chest, let his pectorals ripple, to hunt large animals, display his strength and resolve. He feels he embodies his country, and many of his countrymen feel the same.
This is dangerous.
Then we had George W. Bush. As I watch Donald Trump I am gaining some sympathy for George. George wasn’t smart, but he tried. When he mangled our common language, when his words issued from his mouth in stumbling contradictions and malapropisms, one felt he was trying to say something intelligent and reasonable but he just didn’t have the skill or the mastery of language. When he talked in black and white terms, and borrowed his language from young adult fiction (“evildoers” for example), I felt he would be more nuanced if he could. When he backed stupid policies I felt he wouldn’t do this if he actually grasped the probable consequences of them. He probably did actually believe one could just invade Iraq, destabilize the Middle East and set them all on a path to democracy.
He was dangerous.
And now we have Donald Trump. His use of language is even less sophisticated than that of George W. Bush, but I get the feeling it is a pose, a performance. A performance by a very narcissistic man with no scruples. None whatsoever. Willing to play on every base fear of a semi-educated American public. Appealing to the adolescent super-hero fantasy that plays, occasionally, in everybody’s mind. Willing to play on fears, prejudices, pride, and myth. I think he loves the idea of being president like he loves the idea of having his name on large impressive buildings.
The pundits don’t think he can be elected. They hope he will crash and burn. But he might not.
He is very dangerous.
So (God help us) we may have Putin and Trump at their respective helms in the same decade.
This will be extremely dangerous.
If Canada is to ameliorate this danger to any degree we must have a leader who could do so. A Mike Pearson maybe. Not Mr. Harper. Mr. Harper is smarter than Trump or Bush, and more civilized than Mr. Putin, but his instinct is boldness, brashness, assertion of power and control; he would like to be emperor. He is not dangerous within our parliamentary democracy, but should he find himself sitting at a table with Trump and Putin, could he avert disaster? Or would he too thump his chest and get us all killed?
Mulcair and Trudeau have not been tested. But either of them, at that table with Trump and Putin, is more likely than Harper, I think, to suggest a peaceful solution, to negotiate, to mediate, to avert disaster, to be a second Mike Pearson.
And either would probably be better for mental health policy.