Stuff Still Happens, week 45: President Homer Simpson

As always, The Simpsons predicted the future.

In a season 9 episode called Trash of the Titans, Homer runs for sanitation commissioner against career civil servant Ray Patterson, voiced by Steve Martin. At one point, Homer gets into a shouting match with Patterson, and threatens to run for commissioner.

“Wanna know what I think?” Homer says.

“No!” Patterson says. “Nobody wants to hear the nonsensical ravings of a loudmouthed malcontent!”

“Oh! Well, we’ll see about that!” says Trump … sorry, Homer,.

The loudmouth malcontent wins the election, and promptly ruins the sanitation department thanks to his crazy, unworkable promises.

Well, America, you were warned.

Donald Trump, loudmouthed malcontent with crazy, unworkable ideas, is the president-elect of the United States. Donald J. Trump. Yep, that just happened.

The Republican Party offered up to the voters of the United States a presidential candidate who was a bullying, crude, rude, lying, sexist, racist, foul mouthed, cheating serial sexual abuser who had zero experience in government and made promises that he will not be able to keep because he has no way of implementing any of them … and 60,071,650 people said, “Sure, why not?”

There is little doubt that Donald Trump is the worst candidate ever offered up for the presidency. He is not, in any way shape or form, qualified to be president. But that didn’t matter.

There are almost as many reasons why Donald Trump won as there were votes cast in his favour. But I think it comes down to fault lines.

Every country has fault lines that run through their society. Here in Canada, we have the English-French fault line, and to a lesser extent the East-West fault line. The United States, being the biggest and best at being the biggest and best, has more fault lines than any other country not currently ripped apart by a civil war. And every one of those fault lines came into play in one, single election.

There is the white vs. black line. There is the male vs. female fault line. There is the rich vs. poor fault line. There is the east and west coast elites vs. Middle America fault line. There is the educated vs. non-educated fault line. There is the born in the U.S.A vs. immigrant fault line. There is the north vs. south fault line. There is the age vs. youth fault line. There is the Democrat vs. Republican fault line. There is the left vs. right fault line.

In some elections, one or two of those fault lines emerges. In this one, they ALL broke open. The completely different world views of the two candidates allowed millions of Americans to pick and choose their bias. What worked in Trump’s favour, in my view, is that his constituency is angrier than Clinton’s constituency, and angry people vote.

Nearly 60 million Americans are so disgusted by their politicians, so hateful of their government, so distrustful, so flat out enraged, that they ignored the multiple, egregious and disqualifying qualities of Donald Trump and voted for him anyway.

As politicians always like to say, God bless America. She’ll need it.

Where were the voters?

At last count, 56.9% of eligible American voters turned out on Tuesday (in our election last year, 68% turned out). If you can’t get at least 60% of eligible voters to turn out for the most consequential election in living memory, then your democracy is badly, badly broken.

Fewer than half of those who voted went for Trump, which means Donald Trump got just 27 per cent of voters. Trump, incredibly, got fewer votes than Mitt Romney and fewer votes than John McCain. Hillary Clinton lost black voters, Latino voters, and didn’t wrap up women voters in anywhere near the numbers they expected.

Tone deaf companies

I am often amazed at how stupid big companies can be some time. Two examples this week involved Remembrance Day.

First, Air Canada, the national carrier, told its staff not to wear poppies for Remembrance Day because it clashed with their uniforms. There was an immediate, furious backlash, and Air Canada backed down. Locally, West Edmonton Mall was going to open at 10 a.m. on Remembrance Day until a TV newscast about the opening caused, yet, a backlash. The mall opened at noon instead.

Seriously, how stupid are these people? You know that doing anything to insult veterans, Remembrance Day, poppies, the Legion, etc. is going to create outrage. How could they be this tone deaf to potential public reaction? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

RIP

Leonard Cohen, 82, the legendary Canadian singer, songwriter and poet. Along with Prince and David Bowie and so many others, another addition to the role call of death in 2016 … Leon Russell, 74, the “musicians musician” … Dawn Coe-Jones, 56, Canadian pro golfer and member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame … Lupita Tovar, 106, who appeared in the Spanish language version of Dracula in 1931, which was filmed at night on the same set as the English-language version starring Bela Lugosi … Robert Vaughn, 83, the classy actor who starred as Napoleon Solo in the old TV series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. … Frank Kelly, 77, who played the quite disgusting Father Jack in the great British comedy show, Father Ted (he actually died back in February, but I missed it, and I love Father Ted).

A perfectly cromulent day in the Legislature.

My old reporter’s heart, which bleeds ink, feels a certain empathy for the poor sods who have to cover the Alberta Legislature on a daily basis. All that sound and fury, and hardly a story to report.

I found a few things that were amusing over the past couple of days, if you really stretch the definition of the word ‘amusing’.

For example, Lindsay Blackett, the minister of Culture and Community Spirit (surely the silliest name for a ministry ever) must have been feeling like a forgotten man lately, and felt compelled to do something about it. On Monday, a backbencher tossed him a couple of puffballs about the arts and culture industry to get him back in the game, to wit:

“Can the Minister of Culture and Community Spirit please tell me what he is doing to help this critically important sector during these tough economic times?”, followed up by Can the minister please tell me what he is doing to ensure that this sector remains healthy after the economy has recovered?”

That should have been enough to keep the guy happy, but no. In Tuesday’s QP, another Tory seat warmer asked these questions: “Can the minister offer that assurance and tell us specifically what he’s doing to support the arts?”, followed by  “Can the minister tell us how we’re comparing with other jurisdictions?” and finishing withCan the minister tell us anything about planning for the future in terms of budgeting?”

If you look at the first question from the two days, you’ll see that they are essentially the same question. The other questions are simply variations on the theme.  Let’s hope that keeps the nearly forgotten Minister Blackett happy for a couple of weeks.

Elsewhere, it was a typically non-productive day in the Legislature. Of note, however, was the debate on Bill 12, the supposedly historic, landmark, etc. Alberta Health Act. For most of Tuesday afternoon, members debated the merits of the bill, quite accurately described as a “Seinfeld bill” — a bill about nothing. Nothing or not, that didn’t stop opposition members from entering in a vigourous debate about the bill. The trouble was, they were debating themselves — not one single government member rose to debate the bill on Tuesday. The Scrap Metal Dealers act was important enough for 11 of them to rise on Monday, but on the Alberta Health Act, they remained almost universally silent. Maybe it really is a bill about nothing….

And finally, one amusing moment from Twitter.

The Globe and Mail’s Edmonton correspondent, Josh Wingrove, Twittered about Premier Ed Stelmach’s use of the word “ironical” in the legislature.  “Hey, ABPremierComms, please tell Stelmach that ironical isn’t a word” he Tweeted. Moments later, some wag in the premier’s communication office offered “Ironical is a perfectly cromulent word.”

Wow! An obscure reference from The Simpsons from someone in the premier’s communications staff, and used properly! Kudos to the writer. Too bad the premier’s communication people don’t display that kind of with-it wit a little more often. Might make Stelmach look almost human.