If Trump is re-elected, Canada will pay a high price

In his first officer campaign speech In this most consequential US presidential election, Joe Biden made it perfectly clear what was at stake. “This is not rhetorical, academic or hypothetical. “Whether democracy remains America’s sacred cause is the most pressing question of our time, and that is what the 2024 election is about.”

Given that framework and the growing body of evidence showing the various ways in which Donald Trump and his associates attempted to overturn the 2020 election, one might be tempted to think that this will be a failure for American voters. Sure, they may have concerns about Biden’s age or lingering frustrations about inflation and the economy, but the country that prides itself on being one of the world’s great democracies wouldn’t vote out of the club he effectively founded. Good?

Bad, I’m afraid. The Republican Party, which has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight elections, has been quietly moving away from its commitment to democracy for some time. He knows that his coalition of voters continues to age and become more rural, and that this makes it more difficult to win elections in a country where most of the population growth is in cities and suburbs. Like Utah Senator Mike Lee saying In 2020, “democracy is not the goal; freedom, peace and prosperity (sic) are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank-and-file democracy can thwart that.”

Like CNN’s Zachary Wolf noted In a recent article, new Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has an even more colorful way of describing democracy’s apparent shortcomings. “Do you know what a democracy is? Two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. You don’t want to be in a democracy. Majority rule is not always good.”

It’s not just Republican leaders who are so conspicuously lukewarm about their country’s democratic foundations. 2023 Public Religion Research Institute American Values ​​Survey shows that nearly half of Republicans (48 percent) agree with the proposition that their country “needs a leader who is willing to break some rules if that’s what it takes to fix things.”

They are not alone either, as 38 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats also agree with that invitation to authoritarianism. Most troubling of all, a third of Republicans surveyed believe things have gone so far astray that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country.”

But the majority amazing piece of research on this topic comes from a pair of Yale professors named Matthew Graham and Milan Svolik. His 2020 article tests the real, rather than imagined, commitment to democracy among American voters. “Research that traces its intellectual origins to the work of (Alexis de) Tocqueville. Democracy in America finds that the United States consistently exhibits some of the highest levels of support for democracy in the world. “We show that this conventional wisdom is based on fragile foundations.”

This is because while Americans continue to overwhelmingly support democratic ideals in the abstract, those are not the conditions under which they are being threatened. In more realistic scenarios, those that take into account people’s biases and partisan priorities, that support is much less strong.

Only 13.1 percent of respondents were willing to vote against a candidate from their own partisan tribe for violating democratic principles. In total, the overall effect is only 3.5 percent: perhaps enough to make the election close, but not enough to do so decisively. “Our findings suggest a sobering upper limit of what can reasonably be expected from ordinary people in defense of democracy.”

Democracy is officially at the polls in November’s presidential election. Here’s why he might lose and what that says about our collective willingness to let partisan ends justify political means.

Obviously, this is more than just an academic concern for Canadians. If Trump is re-elected in November, few countries will pay a higher or more immediate price than Canada. Our trade relations will be thrown into chaos, our defensive alliances could be broken, and our largely productive friendship with the world’s oldest democracy will be replaced by cautious coexistence with its new autocracy.

That might also be the best case scenario.

We shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that Canadians are more dedicated to defending democracy here at home or that the worst elements of our society won’t try to take advantage of that. Our country has not slid as far down this authoritarian rabbit hole as the United States, but it is not for lack of trying in certain sectors. When Conservative Members of Parliament use words They like “tyranny” to describe their country and their leader constantly tells people your freedoms are threatenedThey are pushing us all towards that.

Yes, these types of inflammatory statements could help them win an election. But, as former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney discovered, this may come at a cost to her party and perhaps, as we will find out in November, to her country.

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