“Frankly, I don’t want to talk about it.”
Those eight words once comprised the entirety of an Atlanta Journal column by Southern humourist Lewis Grizzard. Eight words atop a newspaper column – where normally 660 words ran – and then nothing but blank space below. Grizzard was talking about football – a Georgia Bulldogs loss to rival Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Dec. 1, 1984, to be exact.
God. Football. Country.
In that order. That was The South.
I was tempted to offer an homage to Grizzard and that column this week – tempted just to run those eight words and walk away. But I could not do that – I actually want to talk about it.
On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, most went to bed with a hint of what would happen and awoke with shocking confirmation that Donald J. Trump was the President-elect of the United States of America.
That still hasn’t sunk in. I keep waiting for the world to cut to commercial, thus reassuring us this is all one big show. But Tuesday was not the season finale of Trump’s political career. The American people just renewed him for four years.
The column I had finalized for this space earlier Tuesday joked about the fact Canada no longer had to build that wall along our southern border. We no longer had to pretend we weren’t home when those C-List ‘celebrities’ who promised to move north – less an Ocean’s 11 cast, more a Dirty Dozen – came knocking.
But honestly, we need to make up a few more beds. Company is coming.
Like post-Brexit Great Britain, Trump America will cause many to reconsider their place. Fear of a brain drain has been building for a decade as the post-Economic Crisis funding landscape at many American universities has been bleak. This may be the final push many needed to seek new homes.
And for Canadian universities, we offer a stable environment to live and work. (So long as you don’t count hydro costs in Ontario.) Time to reach out to those great minds down south.
But to be honest, I am having trouble thinking about that now.
As many have pointed out, the Republic will survive this moment. It has survived far worse. A Civil War. A Great Depression. World wars. And yes, these optimists are correct, the Republic still stands after all that. But not without casualties.
Millions upon millions of casualties.
If you think Trump’s words were just election rhetoric, think again. The people who voted for him have been lied to for years. They have had their bigotry stoked by politicians for votes – their hatred of gays, of immigrants, of religious minorities – only to have those promises forgotten once their candidate was in office. They will not remain silent this time.
There will be A Wall. There will be a Muslim ban. There will be immigrant families split apart. A chill runs down my spine at the thoughts of Trump naming two or three Supreme Court Justices, thus defining the American legal landscape for a generation, or being handed the nuclear codes.
And don’t get smug, Canada. Russian President Vladimir Putin has had eyes on the Arctic for some time. With his useful idiot in place in the White House, he will make a serious play for it. Time for Canadian leadership to slip on a shirt, put down the selfie stick and get serious. The world just became a far more dangerous place.
I am writing these words early in the morning Wednesday – only a handful of hours after I fell asleep in front of the television as the results started to codify around the unthinkable. I woke up at 4:30. It is the first time in my life that I could not sleep because of world events.
This is not a matter of ‘my candidate’ not winning. Far from it. This is a dangerous man, a man who has hate in his heart. And think of the cabinet of deplorables he will bring with him into the halls of power. I fear for what this means for the most vulnerable in my home country.
I have been embarrassed by my country many times. But I never feared for it. Until today.
Frankly, I don’t want to talk about it. But we all must.