In my last blog, I noted that efforts to move political parties back toward the centre must contend with the pervasive influence of social media and its multiplicity of divisive and extreme sources of information and the absence of the highly respected news anchors of the past, whose reporting was trusted and accepted by most. It is almost laughable to contemplate a scenario in which a news broadcast from Walter Cronkite would have been rejected as fake news or alternate facts. Nor would that ever have happened with news reported by Canadian anchors such as Knowlton Nash and Lloyd Robertson.
On a recent cool and rainy day in Myrtle Beach, thoughts turned to a movie outing. I was outvoted (three to one), so we went to see Vice, the movie about Dick Cheney, and especially about the first eight years of this century when he served as VP to President George W. Bush. While the movie was choppy in places and some editing would have been helpful, the acting was excellent. That ends the review of the movie, but not the vaguely depressed feeling I still have from seeing it.
The movie documented the mostly well-known examples of the scheming and infighting carried out by Cheney and his coterie of appointees as they attempted – for the most part successfully – to subvert the normal governing process (and even the normal role for the President) and to take over many of the key decisions during this time period. Their tactics and their sneering contempt for anyone outside their circle could well be described as gutter politics. However, that term was used back in the 1950s by President Eisenhower, who explained moderate Republicanism by saying that “the middle of the road is all the usable surface. Both extremes – left and right – are in the gutters.”
The United States and Canada have many things in common, including the need for a substantial influx of immigrants to sustain their populations and their economic growth. Unfortunately, Canada is also starting to share with the U.S. some of the same hysterical anti-immigration fervor.
C. Richard Tindal, Ph.D is a retired Professor of Government. He taught for 30 years at St. Lawrence College, Kingston and was an occasional Visiting Professor at Queen's University. He has also written and consulted extensively about government.