American Model for Success: Republicans and Democrats Colluding to Undermine Vote

Austria, Croatia, Ireland, Hungary, and now Germany: the major countries of Europe that have recently voted into power what seemed to be the new face of Europe are experiencing some of the same troubles that plague our American neighbours.

With entrenched policies, declining stability, and executive teams and members of Parliament with little or no understanding of the realities of business – as well as a sense of entitlement – it is no surprise that, as the world looks to the United States for ideas and perspective, almost all we seem to hear about are cautionary tales of failure and lack of results.

Much of the fault lies with the world’s dominant centre of power in the United States. Despite there being only two other possible candidates in a democratic presidential election in America – both are deeply flawed – it would be difficult to argue that Donald Trump was an ordinary choice. Partisans of both the Republican and Democratic parties have conspired with potential Republican and Democratic opponents to disenfranchise potential voters. It might have even been possible to claim that Trump’s victory was preordained due to the disgraceful conduct of the dominant mainstream media.

Despite his vulgarity, contempt for facts, and historical ignorance, Donald Trump proved uniquely inspiring to millions of Americans. Among them, were people who already felt disenfranchised with the established politics, and felt motivated to become part of the political process. Another group of Americans didn’t register to vote because they no longer trusted the election process, and felt that it might be more about personal enrichment than helping the nation’s future. But what they share in common is that they believed in what Trump said and promised to do to solve America’s problems. And their decision to turn to an unlikely candidate – former reality TV show host – owes much to the unique world of American politics and very real problems the country faces.

For all his faults, it is hard to imagine anyone better representing America’s voters.

The success of Germany’s new coalition government offers lessons for Canadian politicians seeking to renew their party and hold on to a riding – and for voters seeking new and fresh leadership. As the author of “Federalism for Dummies” told Tasha Kheiriddin and Ed Broadbent on The Globe and Mail Politics Podcast, “No government can come into power on an agenda, but it can learn on the job from the experience of not governing well.”

Leaders who manage to maintain their grip on power in a short-term period of heightened political uncertainty will most likely be rewarded in the long term. The German coalition government, with over half of the coalition members having opposed Merkel during her last electoral campaign, looks to be dealing with the same problems we have in this country. However, unlike in Canada, Germany’s coalition may be able to work together longer to push through its ambitious agenda, and likely will implement major reforms related to immigration, labour markets, infrastructure, education, and government, while also addressing issues relating to public security.

Finally, while George W. Bush may have been a poor choice for president to deal with the challenge of the global financial crisis, he got us out of the hole. Donald Trump was unsuited to deal with the challenge posed by the First Global War on Terror, and without visionary leadership from a world leader, he couldn’t have been trusted with the diplomatic engagement that would ultimately enable the United States to put an end to the suffering in Europe, make its military command more effective and as a result succeed in its responsibility to lead the Western Alliance. It seems, however, that the people of the United States of America – and far too many of our politicians – still somehow do not understand that.

While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed intent on taking our country in the wrong direction with his Canada First economic and foreign policy vision, Mr. Trump has won over the hearts and minds of the American people by standing up for what he believes in, promising to solve their problems and addressing the very real issues confronting America and the world. In the end, none of these German successes and failures will matter if our political leaders fail to show that they understand that both our country and our party need to do better and grow to serve our people better.

Michael Fullilove is a Canada Research Chair in Global Affairs and Political Development at the University of British Columbia. He also is senior fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

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