American Politics

R. A. Jamieson, QC was the lawyer whose swivel office chair on the second floor of 74 Mill Street I filled when I arrived in Almonte at 27 years of age in June of 1976. He was then 82 years of age, having practiced law for 54 years. He had been called to the Bar at Osgoode Hall in Toronto in 1921, previously a graduate of the University of Toronto where he had distinguished himself as a long-distance runner. Appropriately Mr. Jamieson lived until 96 years of age, ill and hospitalized at the Almonte General Hospital only during the last 6 months of his life. Though he like I began his legal career working in a firm of other lawyers, we both similarly soon transitioned as sole practitioners.

Of the many interesting and entertaining tales I might report of Mr. Jamieson one of the most peculiar to me – at least initially when I first heard of it from him – was that he was hugely enamoured of American politics. In 1976 during the heyday of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and the advent of political liberalism, American politics – at that time led by Gerald Ford – was unimaginable competition for proceedings on the Canadian front pages. All that changed in 2016 when Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States of America. And not in a good way.

Today – Wednesday, December 18, 2019 – marks the impeachment of Donald J. Trump by the Congress of the United States of America. During the past eight hours of television coverage of the Congressional proceedings prior to its final vote on two counts of impeachable conduct against President Trump, the world has witnessed a political polarity which is nonpareil. Even in those governments where totalitarianism prevails there are at least predictable and understandable binary positions. But where as in this instance the facts are incontrovertible it renders the antagonism inconceivable and disheartening. What is inconceivable is that the Republicans are unanimously aligned on identical terms (all of which uniquely avoid addressing the one salient fact about the President’s illegal conduct). What is disheartening is that there is no excuse for the Republican conduct other than the identical selfish motive of which the President is accused; viz., advancement of personal position over and above that of the nation.

If the dichotomy were not already clear enough the conduct of the two parties – Democrats and Republicans – has echoed the disparity of their respective seriousness and contempt of the proceedings. As a mere sartorial matter for example, many of the Republicans have appeared within the parliamentary hallows dressed as though for attendance at a baseball game. The Republican language – contrary to the formality of the Democrats – has been vulgar and loud. On the account of rationality and legality the Democrats have drawn consistently upon both statute and common law; the Republicans by contrast have routinely avoided legal considerations and tended instead to submerge themselves in patently objectionable and discreditable manipulation which had nothing whatever to do with the substantive issues at hand.

Rather than appear a mere foil of the Democratic party it befits me instead to characterize my overwhelming astonishment that the Republican party members – many of whom have notoriously criticized Trump in the most flagrant terms – have adopted a seemingly tranquillized mantra resembling a surreal exposition. It surpasses all comprehension of even the most ingenuous observer to fathom how the Republicans can either ignore or dilute the facts.

Of equal abhorrence is that arising from the percolation of the distasteful thought that American politics are undergoing a complete alteration to the same perversion of which the Republicans are accused. That is, are Americans as a whole adopting a seeming white supremacist, misogynistic, homophobic, industrialist, capitalist outlook which flies in the face of rational argument and general civility? While it may enlarge the study to acquaint it with the rise of the political principles of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Naziism) in pre-war Germany, the resemblance to the submission of the masses to a madman dictator cannot be overlooked. It is no accident that long-standing American citizens are regularly talking about moving to Canada. On a more immediate front it pains me to see thoughtful and well-thinking American leaders being diminished publicly by their congressional counterparts. Nor can I understand the putative popular support of Trump by those who have all the appearance of being made in his image.