UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Observations

The test of a lifetime

By David Wilson


About a year ago, I got into a discussion with a group of friends my age about our parents, the cohort famously christened “the greatest generation” by journalist Tom Brokaw in his 1998 book of the same title. The gist of the conversation was that where our parents struggled to overcome economic depression and war, we’ve only known prosperity and peace.

“We’ve never been tested,” one of my friends observed.

His words rang so true. When I look back on my 60-plus years, it’s as if my generation — or at least the part of it that grew up white, male and middle class after the Second World War — has lived in a bubble. We have been immune from history, our only challenge, seemingly, the pursuit of ever-greater pleasures.

But I, for one, inherited enough of my parents’ worry genes to harbour the uneasy feeling that we might face a reckoning someday. I’ve always wondered what it would look like if history came calling, and whether we’d have the grit to respond to it when it did.

The bomb that went off with the election of Donald Trump was also the sound of a bubble bursting. I and my contemporaries shared the shock and alarm that millions of others felt. But it was also tinged with a sense of loss: our free ride was over. We were being tested, finally.

The new U.S. president and the people around him bear a marked resemblance in tone and substance to the totalitarian regimes our parents fought in their own generation. The first months of Trump’s presidency — a nightmare of rash, mean-spirited executive orders; spiteful tweets; scandals; incoherent, bellicose press conferences; and deeply worrisome national-security moves — confirmed beyond doubt that the gravity of the Oval Office would not restrain the new president but rather inflame him.

Now that history has caught up with us, privileged boomers must find common cause with marginalized groups who have been tested all their lives, and for whom Trump represents a dangerous escalation. The end goal must be stopping him and his cronies before they can inflict irreparable damage to liberal democracy. At a minimum, this means using the courts, political pressure and diplomatic sway to isolate and contain the president until his term ends. But the best outcome is outright defeat. This likely means marshalling enough legal, political and moral suasion to convince Republican members of Congress that their own interests are better served with Trump out of the picture.

This is a fight for everyone, not just Americans. Joining the battle can be as simple as sending a cheque to the American Civil Liberties Union or subscribing to the media voices that are calling Trump to account. It goes without saying that we must resist Trump copycats here in Canada.

The upsurge of protest since Trump’s inauguration is encouraging. But it’s just a start. In the coming months, the movement needs to refine an ethically framed message that speaks to a full spectrum of decent-minded people, including those on the soft edges of Trump Nation. The movement must also sharpen its objectives — for example, insist that Congress force Trump to disclose his tax returns — and develop leaders around which it can coalesce.

The struggle needs as many recruits as it can muster, but the onus is especially on people of my vintage. We have lived well off the fruits of liberal democracy. Now that it is imperilled, we, in particular, must rise in its defence. 


Author's photo
David Wilson is the editor-publisher of The Observer.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Features

Photo: Darrell Noakes

Drag queens help church raise money and awareness

by Darrell Noakes

The event, called “Take Me to Church,” after a popular song, was a fundraiser for LGBTQ youth in Saskatchewan.

Promotional Image

Observations

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: Our magazine's plastic problem

by Jocelyn Bell

"While I can easily defend the use of a polybag on financial grounds, it would be unconscionable to deliver a cover story about plastics . . . in plastic."

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Features

April 2018

What that recycling logo actually means

by Susan Nerberg

Contrary to popular belief, its presence doesn’t guarantee the product is reusable or recyclable.

Columns

April 2018

Why Canada needs a free-range parenting law

by Pieta Woolley

Justice

January 2018

Jehovah's Witnesses cover-up

by Kristy Woudstra

Canadian survivors of childhood sexual abuse are coming forward to reveal how their church failed them — and protected their predators

Profiles

October 2017

Fall from grace

by Justin Dallaire

Don Hume was a United Church minister nearing retirement. Then he tried crack cocaine.

Features

April 2018

10 easy ways to kick our nasty plastic habit

by Susan Nerberg

It's not as hard as you think.

Features

April 2018

What that recycling logo actually means

by Susan Nerberg

Contrary to popular belief, its presence doesn’t guarantee the product is reusable or recyclable.

Promotional Image