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Posted: November 10, 2018

If you want to save the world it’s time to start listening

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

So where are we now? Donald Trump is still here, hobbled maybe, but more malevolent than ever.

More than 100 women got elected to the House of Representatives. That’s good and that included two female aboriginal Americans, which is great. Ted Cruz was almost defeated in Texas which would have been fantastic and up here in Canada former Conservative cabinet Minister Tony Clement lost his critic’s job and was kicked out of the caucus for serial sexting a number of women including one who tried to blackmail him.

That is fantastic!

But sadly, let’s go back to Trump. There can be no doubt that he’s returning meaner than ever. Firing his attorney general the very day after the election in a brazen attempt to undermine the Robert Mueller investigation is a form of collusion itself like the alleged collusion of the Russians in the presidential election. Can’t you just see Putin, bare from the waist up, laughing his head off?

But the polarization that’s gripped American politics under Trump is no laughing matter. It has poisoned the body politic of American society to the point that not so subtle speculation is emerging about another civil war.

The New Yorker, one of the country’s most respected magazines, recently ran an article entitled: “Is America headed for a new kind of Civil War?” Indeed, the fervor is such that a new edition of Sinclair Lewis’s best-seller “It Can’t Happen Here” hit the bookstores this year and is selling like the proverbial hot cakes.

Lewis, the first American novelist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, wrote his potboiler in the mid-1930s as fascists were coming to power all over Europe not unlike what’s happening today except so far at least they’re being called “populists” instead of the “F” word.

Others are drawing parallels between the rise of Trump and the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s. In the beginning, Hitler, like Trump, was underestimated by his critics and even thrown into jail for a year where he wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle).

Hitler emerged from jail to a deeply polarized Germany with political parties shooting each other on the streets and Jewish people made targets of hate and forced underground. The German Conservative Party thought it could control the Nazi upstarts and allowed them into their coalition government in 1933. But Hitler turned the tables on them, outlawing all political parties except for the Nazis and less than a decade later started the Second World War and plunged the world into chaos and death.

A stretch you say. Then why is Trump sending 15,000 troops to the Mexican border to attack a rag tag group of unarmed refugees and migrants that want nothing more than to pull themselves out of abject poverty? Why were 11 Jewish worshippers gunned down in a Pittsburgh synagogue two weeks ago? Why does Trump still sing out of the NRA’s songbook every time there’s another firearm massacre like the one that killed 12 people at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California only a few days ago?

These are bad times folks. And it’s in bad times that demagogues come to power in the world and this mostly fortunate part of Mother Earth is no exception.

So, what to do? I’ve got no magic solution and I doubt if anyone else has either. But one thing I know and I’m guilty of it myself and it’s got to stop. And that’s this business – especially in political discussions – of talking over each other instead of to each other. If actual communication, instead of angry blather, is going to take place we have to grant each other a modicum of respect to actually listen to what the other has to say.

The fate of the world may well depend on it. And maybe we’ll finally get to see Trump’s tax returns.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who swears he won’t write another Trump column for at least 10 years or 10 days, depending on circumstances subject to change.

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