Live Well, Do Good

Canadian Leaders in Resistance to Trump

Brandon Sun, June 26, 2017 – David McConkey

The Trump era has a silver lining: the resistance. There has been a resurgence of civic engagement, reading, even comedy. People – in the U.S. and globally – are challenged to think more critically, to learn more, to become more involved.

Enter six Canadians prominent in the Trump resistance. The first three are already quite well known. But their work in fiction and comedy is gaining new recognition in the Trump era.

The next three are less well known, so I am giving them more of an introduction. They are writers and public intellectuals who are helping to define the danger of Trump. They approach Trump differently: from the right, from the left, and from the personal.

Margaret Atwood
Her 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale is newly appropriate in the Trump era. Previously made into a film and an opera, it is currently winning fresh audiences as a new TV series.

Lorne Michaels
As the creator and producer of Saturday Night Live, he is enjoying one of his most successful seasons ever. When reality is ridiculous, how do you do satire? Yet SNL pulls it off!

Samantha Bee
Her TV show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is one of several comedy shows that take Trump head on. How much impact does Bee have? Well, Time magazine named her as one of this year’s 100 most influential people in the world!

David Frum
A conservative political commentator, Frum was born in Toronto in 1960. His parents were Murray, a dentist and real estate developer; and Barbara, a regular on CBC radio and TV. Frum has lived in the U.S. since he went to work as a speechwriter for former president George W. Bush. He is now a senior editor of the magazine The Atlantic.

Frum was so worried about Trump that in 2016 he supported Hillary Clinton for president. His cover story about Trump for The Atlantic has received much favourable notice: How to Build an Autocracy.

“We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered,” Frum writes. A Trump autocracy, he warns, would come about by “the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit.”

Naomi Klein
She is a social activist and bestselling author. Klein was born in Montreal in 1970. Her parents were American war resisters who opposed the Vietnam War and emigrated to Canada in the 1960s. Klein brings to the current situation her previous commentary on corporations, globalization and climate change.

Klein also has written about what she calls “disaster capitalism.” Her thesis: right-wing governments and corporations use “shocks,” such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to implement policies that would not otherwise survive public scrutiny. Trump could bring about abrupt change during such shocks – like natural disasters, terrorist attacks or crises that Trump engineers.

Klein has just written a book about overcoming the Trump catastrophe: No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.

In reflecting on the views of Frum and Klein, I am struck by how – coming from opposite directions – they arrive at the same conclusion of the present danger. Frum is right wing – he favours free enterprise and smaller government. Klein is left wing – she favours a larger public sector.

But both Frum and Klein see the threat of Trump as a subverting of democracy to create a kleptocracy like Putin’s Russia. Trump wants to enrich himself and his friends; he does not care about either free markets or the public good.

And there is something else Frum and Klein agree on: the need for reinvigorated citizen engagement to avert the current crisis.

Graydon Carter
A magazine journalist, Carter was born in 1949 in Toronto. He moved to the U.S. in 1978. Since 1992 he has been the editor of Vanity Fair. A member of the Manhattan social scene, he has long observed and written about Trump.

And amidst Trump’s big boasting and bullying, there’s one little matter that deserves attention. More than 30 years ago, Carter was the first journalist, to notice and write about Trump’s small hands. Those “small hands” have since come to represent Trump’s general insecurity and derangement.

Carter’s small observation has had a big impact. Take a look at any political cartoon – Trump’s hands are probably portrayed as tiny appendages.
And Carter came up with the best-ever Trump zinger.

Trump, Carter says, is a “short-fingered vulgarian.” 

* * * 

See also:

Margaret Atwood on     (on

Naomi Klein on     (on

We Must Resist the Trump Culture – Here's How

Donald Trump: Stranger Than We Can Imagine?

Takeaways From Trump’s Unbelievable Victory

Citizen Active

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