In debate with a demagogue.

The signs around the White House should read: Danger, Demagogue in power. And yes, there is no denying that President Donald Trump is a classical demagogue. Rational debate is now passé. It is a time of alternative facts. Facts as only President Trump perceives them.

And Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet are meeting in Calgary debating how to debate a demagogue. What a waste of time and money! Does Ambassador McNaughton know how to debate with demagogues? Not likely, would be our guess. Why fly him to Calgary if he sheds no light on the problem? Or why entertain President Trump’s son-in-law? What are his ambassadorial credentials?

Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues would be further along consulting with a child psychologist. One who knows something about aberrational behaviour would make the most sense. Donald Trump has to be considered a spoiled, selfish, truculent little boy. How do you debate a new North American Free Trade Agreement with a child?

First of all, you have to make sure that everything is on an even footing. You have to climb into his playpen with him, assure him that you are there to play and prepared to discuss things at his level of comprehension.

You also have to be prepared to counter his alternative facts. Sometimes the easiest way is to use alternative facts yourself. If he thinks his facts are real, then why should you not be entitled to counter them—not with argument or logic but through your alternative facts. And alternative facts are so easy to create!

At some point in this child’s play, he will tire and you can let his experts and your experts sit down and work out a new deal. That is the time when both sides get to say what they really do not like about the present agreement. One thing Mr. Trump might understand is if you insist that the courts be kept out of problem solving. He has been sued so many times in his business career that he would be sensitive to the subject. An independent panel of business people from all countries would be an idea that would appeal to him. It might just be the answer to the problems we have had with NAFTA such as the softwood lumber arguments.

But whatever we do, we should use caution. He is still the kid next door and we are expected to play nice with him.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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