By Dr David Laing Dawson With an Addendum by Marvin Ross
Mike Pence looks upon Donald Trump with besotted eyes. Six months after the election Trump can get a crowd chanting “Lock her up.” I watch Jeffrey Lord, once an acolyte of Ronald Reagan, crawl through semantic swamps to throw himself at the feet of The Donald.
I read many accounts of how and why Donald Trump won that election: The forgotten citizens of the rust belt, of coal country and small town America. The rise of a populist leader sewing division, preying on our instinctive distrust of the other tribes who may covet our watering hole.
But I am also aware of very many successful cult leaders, men who can grow a following of thousands (or millions) in order to steal all the gold and the young women. To say nothing of tin pot dictators, cruel despots, and other false prophets.
It all speaks to a flaw in our human character, and a flaw, like many of our flaws, that once had survival value.
I’m sure when we lived in the jungles, even when we rode horseback on the prairies, and our tribes were beholden to a single alpha male, when we even sometimes thought of this alpha male king as a God king, we were stronger as a tribe when we offered blind allegiance, when we never questioned his decisions, and when we overlooked his indiscretions and malfeasance. Not that long ago we would shout “For King and country” as we rushed off to war.
This all implies an ability (a tendency) we have to project unto our leader, our king, the strongest of our desires and wishes, to assign to him the kinds of wisdom and compassion and strength that we would wish to see in our leaders, and in ourselves. We see such a leader, not as he really is, but as we would want him to be. Donald was right when he said his base would still vote for him if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue.
With the checks and balances of the American Constitution, with the equally powerful House, Senate, Judiciary, and with the fourth estate intact, America may survive this despot and our very human tendency to see someone as we wish to see ourselves.
But I write this really as a plea to keep our constitutional monarchy in Canada. We humans need a King or Queen and a Royal Family, as long as they have no legislative power. Then we can project into them all that we wish to. We can revere them, talk about them, read the gossip and inside dope, admire their wealth and stateliness. We can argue about their usefulness and cost. We can enjoy the pomp and circumstance. They can be our symbols of power and goodness. They can be the embodiment of our collective.
And as long as we have a monarchy it will let us see Justin Trudeau as a guy doing a half decent job as a member of parliament and, for now, our Prime Minister. Fully human, entirely replaceable. Even though he made the cover of Rolling Stone, we will still listen to what he says and watch what he does, and judge him accordingly. And we and our parliament will hold him accountable for all that he says and all that he does.
Aside from the existence of the Electoral College, the biggest problem with the US system is the separation of powers. Because of that, the executive branch headed by the president is separated from Congress. While the Vice President resides over the Senate, the president has the power to veto all bills passed while not sitting in either the Senate or the House.
In a Parliamentary System, the Prime Minister (PM) or the premier in Canadian provinces is an ordinary member of the legislature elected by his constituents in a local riding. He or she becomes the head person when elected by the party. As such, the PM sits in the legislature and is responsible to it, the local constituency and to the party. During question period, members of the opposition have the opportunity to ask questions of the PM and the cabinet in what is often a very heated exchange. That heated exchange is televised and often clips are on the nightly news.
If this institution was part of the US system, Mr Trump would have to sit in the legislative branch and be grilled on his policies. That would make for great TV.