By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 3, 2018.
Thomas Pynchon once said in his landmark novel “Gravity’s Rainbow” about the vagaries and vicissitude’s of power, politics and decision making that “Decisions are never really made — at best they manage to emerge, from a chaos of peeves, whims, hallucinations and all around a**holery.”
As we end 2017 and move on to 2018, we can see this statement has never been more true. Last year was an all around downer in terms of world affairs and domestic politics. U.S President Donald Trump behaved about as badly as anyone could have managed to in such an esteemed position. It’s not just about policy either; it was also about style of delivery. Trump continued the boorish antics of his campaign persona, despite many saying he would find a way to be more statesmanlike after being elected.
Trump’s approval rating, according to the latest Gallup poll, sits at about 38 per cent, which is extremely low for a first-year president. A leopard does not change its spots, however. Expect more of the same from Trump in the year ahead.
Despite his personality flaws, notable agenda failures and Russia collusion allegations, Trump did manage to get a big legislative win on corporate tax reduction to end his year. And the Trump administration also outlined a new and detailed U.S. foreign policy which clearly laid out its priorities and objectives under the slogan, “America First”— a policy which was coherent and had a unifying vision contained within it. Trump has three years left to go in his mandate. Who knows what he might accomplish by then? President Trump continues to surprise, for good or for ill.
North of the border our own Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t exactly heating up the polls; he’s now below 50 per cent approval by some calculations. The funny thing is this drop is not the result of any one policy decision or scandal. The economy appears to be doing well, in fact. However, Trudeau, despite his charm and media savvy, (very unlike his contemporary south of the border), achieved nothing of note in 2017. There was no signature policy which caught Canadians’ interest.
There was also frustration with Trudeau’s inability to make headway on NAFTA or further trade talks with China, which left the impression of a prime minister’s office badly adrift on the surging sea of recent international politics. Trudeau was further accused of outright sabotage by Canada’s TPP partners by not showing up to an important meeting at the APEC summit in Vietnam, which signaled to many Canadians Trudeau was putting ideology before their pocketbooks, a cardinal sin in national politics.
Sure Trudeau made an historic apology to the LGBTQ community for Canada’s past wrongs and cried manfully when speaking of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie’s death last fall, but these gestures had very little resonance with Canadians who had hoped for more out of our prime minister in 2017. Trudeau will hopefully make better adjustments to the new Trumptonian universe we find ourselves in and get his game back in 2018 — or Canada will be in for a long two years ahead until the next federal election.
(Tim Kalinowski is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)