America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

I have been so pleased by the excellent guest posts I have received from friends in the UK — David, Gary and Colette — as a part of Project Coexist, giving us a chance to see how people outside the U.S. view us these days, in light of the changes in our nation.  Today I am happy to share with you another excellent point-of-view from Canadian friend, John Fioravanti!

America Today: A Canadian View

I appreciate Jill Dennison’s generous invitation to be a guest on her blog site. As a retired high school history teacher, I don’t presume to be an expert on this topic or any other – nor do I claim to speak for any Canadians other than myself. Having said that, I believe that many Canadians are profoundly saddened and anxious by developments on our southern border since the Trump Administration took power.

Having taught American history for many years, I have some understanding about the events and ideas that shaped America from its colonial days. Like all nations, the United States has evolved throughout its history in many significant ways. Today, I see America at a crossroad as many of the foundational values are being tossed aside for political expediency.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Diplomacy is a dirty word in the Trump White House and I am horrified that the president resorts to bullying and personal insult in his conduct of relations with Canada and the other Allies. Where is the dignity and respect that normally characterize international relationships – especially with allied nations? These were the tactics used against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout the NAFTA negotiations. The worst part about that episode was that it utterly destroyed the trust that existed between Canada and the United States throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st.

Mulroney and Reagan sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at the 1985 Shamrock Summit.

I never expected Trudeau and Trump to become fast personal friends since they are divided by their political ideologies. Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan were both conservative leaders and good friends. Stephen Harper, a conservative, did not become friendly with the liberal-minded Obama. Yet, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau became good friends with Obama. My point here is that the political leanings of our national leaders often determine the temperature of the relationship. Under Donald Trump, that temperature has become decidedly frigid, and that benefits neither nation.

As I consider Trump’s poor behaviour in Washington and on the world stage, I am most concerned with his complete break with truth and honesty. I am appalled that so many millions of Americans still support him. Do they not value truth and honesty? Or are they just willing to subvert those values as a fitting sacrifice to achieve their political agenda? These are very troubling questions. I fear for my American cousins and for the rest of the free world.

Much has been written about the divisions within America. Donald Trump did not create those divisions, but he has single-mindedly exploited them to appease his base. In like manner, he has driven a wedge of distrust between the United States and her traditional allies. At the same time, Trump pays public homage to authoritarian leaders around the globe. His chaotic foreign policy has resulted in trade wars with allies and foes alike and the result is the isolation of America on the world stage.

I live a short two-hour drive from our southern border at Niagara but I have not driven across to visit friends in New York State since Trump took power – nor will I until America votes him out of power. That makes me sad. His mercurial policies cause me to be anxious and fearful about travelling in the States. Perhaps that is silly but it is my truth.

As a youngster, I remember being glued to the TV news as America’s cities burned during the race riots of the 1960s. As I listen to the white supremacist rhetoric and watch news reports of children and minority groups being targeted in mass shootings in America today, the old horror of those bygone days rears its ugly head.

Canada has its fair share of problems too. We have racial divisions of our own. There are people in Canada who think Donald Trump is a great example to follow. As a liberal, I’ve always done my best to accept that others have differing political and social views to my own, but I fear that American conservatism characterized by dishonesty and a total lack of integrity has made inroads among Canada’s conservatives.

Today, America is writhing in the midst of a political stalemate that has caused a partial shutdown of the federal government. Neither Trump nor the Democrat leaders in Congress are willing to blink. Meanwhile, thousands of federal workers find themselves used as political hostages who may lose their savings, their homes, and their peace of mind as a result. This is morally reprehensible!

Presupposing America can emerge from the next two years in one piece, will American voters elect leaders who will take steps to heal the nation and heal the broken relationships with the allies? Who can be certain? The divided house called America is frightening to behold. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

Thank  you so much for your perspective as one of our two closest neighbors, John!  I’m wondering if there are plans in the works in your own government to take steps, such as building a big, beautiful wall, to protect your southern border, for under our current circumstances, many of us may be fleeing to the north to escape political persecution here!

46 thoughts on “America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

  1. I was very interested to read a Canadian perspective of America for several reasons, one being rather self centered. Might I just say, you have not disappointed with your well thought and excellently presented point of view. During my childhood years, I spent considerable time visiting with paternal relatives in Vancouver, British Columbia. They were long stays necessitated by the time consuming travel from the east coast of the USA and a source of great joy to my siblings and I. Shorter visits to Inverness County relatives in Nova Scotia were far more frequent, but every bit as enjoyable and memorable. This was, of course, when travelling back and forth between the US and Canada did not require passports. But, more to the point…it is appalling to me how your gentlemanly Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is treated by our uncouth excuse for a president, Donald Trump. Truth and honesty are not among his virtues, although it is doubtful that he possess any virtue whatsoever (just my opinion). The damage that Trump has inflicted upon our standing with our (former?) allies is astounding, while at the same time his flagrant embracement and admiration of leaders and countries formerly seen as enemies is untenable. You are quite right when stating ‘The divided house called America is frightening to behold’, even more so for those of us dwelling within. As a teacher of American history, you are most likely well acquainted with Lincoln’s House Divided speech. While he was speaking about the division of the North and the South, some of those words are pertinent today : “A house divided against itself, cannot stand. It will become all of one thing or all the other.” Does not America’s fate lie therein? Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind words, Ellen. Canadians feel your pain more than any other nation in the world. Historically we were colonial siblings so we share common cultural and political roots – in ideology and in our institutions. Over the years we have shared a common popular culture. There is not another nation in the world that has closer bonds with America than Canada. This is the reason that Canada and the USA share the longest undefended border in the world. Therefore, I have faith that America will dump Trump and set about the task of national reconciliation and mending fences with her allies.

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  2. As I used to live in Canada, and may return, I find your account of the Trudeau/Trump relationship interesting.

    Trump doesn’t like anyone with diplomatic skills (including Trudeau). I think he feels quite threatened by another leader’s obvious ‘intelligence,’ and tries to quash it with brash, outlandish, lying (a childlike response when one cannot win an argument).
    This whole ‘wall’ idea is childish, and someone needs to pull Trump up short on this. It is Taxpayers, not Trump who will pay for this sad edifice to meglamania. It is a shame that Trudeau doesn’t have a good relationship with the POTUS… Maybe he could have talked some sense into him. But sadly, Trudeau is embroiled in his own controversial oil pipe lines.

    One gets a sense here, that intelligent thought, diplomacy and honesty, are missing in world relationships. What I want to know, is why?

    Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks, Colette. You’re welcome in Canada any time! I agree with your observations about the Trudeau/Trump relationship. Trump is clearly insecure around mature, intelligent persons – reflected in the stampede of WH staffers getting out of that administration in the first two years. Yes, Trudeau certainly has his hands full with the pipeline issue here. What I admire about Trudeau is that he is not afraid to spend a couple of hours in a packed auditorium holding townhall meetings with Canadians from coast to coast. Many people who come out to those meetings are hostile to his policies or failure to deliver what they want. He stands his ground, keeps his cool and answers their concerns. Our last PM Harper would not be caught dead in a setting like that unless it was packed with loyal supporters. He was gutless – like Trump who only appears with friendly crowds. Not long ago, traditional political parties in western democracies would not have elected extremist leaders. Clearly, that has changed and it isn’t pretty. I wish I knew why.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear John Fioravanti,

    Thanks for your diplomacy and for this excellent post. You portray what’s going on in the USA very accurately.
    None of us can fault Canadians,our other neighbors and allies for having ambivalent feelings regarding the state of US politics under the leadership of this cruel man, President Donald Trump.

    We who live here are so disheartened about what’s happening over this government shutdown because of the phony issue of his SW border wall.

    This evening, the New York Times published a blockbuster news item about how around May 2017, agents for a secret division of the FBI involving counter-intelligence began investigating whether President Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation. As per the NYT report, “That inquiry was made part of Mr. Mueller’s broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them.

    We have and probably will never know about the status of whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing this counterintelligence matter,

    If one looks at President Trump’s actions, all of it would fit the definition of being what Russia would want, from the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, recent presidential orders to lessen US sanctions against a Russian oligarch, the causing of the US dishing our NATO allies, causing a wedge between the US and our neighbors like Canada with tariffs, the president doing his best to crony up to authoritarian leaders; the exacerbation of divisions in the US; the causing of distrust among the American peoples towards our US government.

    What’s more disheartening is that there are Republican Party leaders in the US Congress enabling and covering for this man. Meanwhile, there are 800,000 government public servants going without their paychecks because the president pushed for a government shutdown over his phony issue of his wall. Make no mistake, anything the president says about his willingness to negotiate with Democrats is a farce. He has been wanting this shutdown since May 2017. Before now, there were adults present in the White House who were able to restrain him from taking this action but they are all gone.

    The US Congress elected officials could act to work around this president but any actions along these lines is being blocked by the Republican Party Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the US Senate. It is my opinion that it is time for the republican US senators to enact a mutiny as there appears to be no end in sight regarding this shutdown.

    Personally, I’m believing that when the US economy takes downward turn, then maybe the president will lift a finger.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your kind words and important analysis, Gronda. Mitch McConnell is despicable and is the poster boy for GOP insensitivity to the rights and needs of the workers affected by this shutdown. I see that the air traffic controllers are suing the federal government. Excellent! One way to prevent these government shutdowns is to withhold paychecks from everyone in Congress and the White House – no matter what parts of government are shut down. Then we’d see if the president and Congress would be willing to play politics with the budget. To add insult to injury, the federal lawmakers closed up shop for the weekend…

      Liked by 2 people

      • I am in full agreement with your idea of withholding paychecks from the prez and Congress, but I would take it a step further … his entire administration should be either furloughed or forced to work without pay … Kellyanne, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, all the cabinet members such as Bolton, Pompeo, etc. They want to be in his corner? Fine, let them suffer like the rest. Of course, they won’t feel the pinch like the average federal worker is feeling it, for they all have hefty bank accounts, investment portfolios, etc., but the principle of the thing might be enough to wake them up. We have here a plutocracy as surely as I am breathing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear John,
    Gotta appreciate how you turned America’s southern border problems to become our southern border problem. Even though it was scarier than it was funny, you had me rolling on the floor busting a gut (ROTFBAG–or Rotten Flea Bagging for long).
    I do question one thing: If Trudeau is still in power when a new war starts, would he back trumpo, or would he try to remain neutral? It may depend on who the “enemy” is, I guess, but I don’t see him joining the USA–especially if trumpo is the aggressor.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I cannot speak for all the people in the world, but I respect Obama very much, and thought he was possibly the best president the USA has ever had. A fine statesman, a wonderful diplomat, and a president concerned with the lives of the poorer people.
        The contrast from Obama to trumpo is almost unreal, were it not so very much real. What an idiot!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I felt the same about Obama, that if not THE best, certainly one of the best. He always kept his cool under fire, and he certainly had enough fire to deal with in his time. Yes, the difference between the two is indescribable … to say they are 180 degrees apart doesn’t even cover it. WAH … I want Obama back!!!

          Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right – and thanks for your comment. I would assume that whoever is in power in Ottawa would decide based on the circumstances of the war. For example, we did not march into Iraq when Bush declared war based on erroneous intelligence but we did march into Afghanistan in 2001. Those wars represented different circumstances. If America is threatened by any or several major powers, Canada will join the cause because our national security would be threatened as well. Conversely, the USA would swing into action if Canada was invaded by a foreign power because Uncle Sam would never tolerate a hostile power on their northern border. That’s another reason why a Canadian border wall is so ludicrous.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great point of view. The worry is that politicians likes Trump successfully spin webs of fear then they tap into that fear. It does work with a proportion of the electorate. You can see it happening in the UK. France, Germany, Italy. Countries then become badly divided, resentment builds playing into the hands of the fear merchants.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Well said John. The world is just in a state of unease from day to day now. You say neither side has blinked over the partial shutdown. I understood the Democrats had made an offer to help end it but I see that they can’t blink if the cost is over $5bn, that would be just the start.
    Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, David. I’m afraid that both sides have painted themselves into a corner and there’s little wiggle room for a win/win solution. I wouldn’t be so upset by this wall debate if the GOP would quit spinning the outright lies about what is going on at the border with Mexico. I think if Trump’s polling numbers suddenly tanked, he’d start whistling a different tune. I wonder how many bankruptcies will occur among federal employees by then.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Even a compromise of … say meeting mid-point at approximately $2.5 billion won’t work, for it is still a colossal waste that could be better spent elsewhere (if we even had the money, which we don’t), PLUS, Trump has made it clear that he will settle for NO LESS than the $5.7 billion he ‘demanded’. Where’s the end?
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

        • Ordinarily, I would agree, but the thing is that we are spending money we don’t have and have no foreseeable means of getting, since we have given such lovely tax breaks to the people who could best afford to pay taxes. AND … our economy will soon begin to feel the effects of the shutdown in a very real way, as consumers lose confidence, start saving and stop spending/investing. We truly cannot afford to throw away $5.7 billion that we don’t even have a plan to get …unless the plan is to rob even more from social welfare programs, disaster aid, and other things that help keep people alive and well. We need to prioritize, and frankly increased border security falls lower than most things on the priority list. To those of us with humanity in our hearts, that is.

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  7. As a fellow Canadian, I also have no plans on crossing the border into the US until Drumpf is gone. It’s sad, because most of my family is American. As for beginning our own wall, I have a backyard full of bricks and the will to use them!

    Liked by 5 people

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