When political pundits look back at the U.S. presidential election of 2016, many are still shaking their heads wondering how Donald Trump of all people earned the spot.
A political novice, Trump blazed through the primaries like crazy, defeating every Republican peer and ultimately destroying Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton (he led the race on election night the entire time). How did he do it?
A number of experts, even in Canada where you have to be very, very careful what you say so nobody gets offended, feel one of the biggest factors that came into play in Trump’s favour was a backlash against political correctness. Specifically, the effort to go out of one’s way to avoid offending anybody by saying anything that anyone feels is controversial, if that makes any sense. Trump, whether in the election campaign or his defunct television show, tended to say what he wished whether it was politically correct or not. This seems to have resonated with a large enough chunk of voters to give him the White House.
According to other experts, the backlash can also be attributed to the politically correct presidency of Barack Obama. Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in the fall of 2009, a few months after he became president; Obama should have refused the award. Personally, I think the gesture was nothing more than astro turf (public relations fluff), as I could find no reason why the man deserved an award given to people who prevented or stopped wars around the world. A number of political experts were critical of the award, noting they felt the Nobel was given to Obama as a way of saying “We’re so glad George Bush is gone.” Awards like this one should be given to people who accomplish something legitimate, and when they’re handed out like free movie passes for buddies such awards become irrelevant, which is what the Nobel Prize for Peace has become.
Coming back to The Land of the Strong and Free, we’ve actually had our own leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, engage in politically correct behaviour that even made newscasters and pundits in the United states laugh out loud. A couple of weeks ago in one of his publicity tour town hall meetings, Trudeau used the non-existent word, “Peoplekind,” in an effort to avoid saying the word, “Mankind,” which (ugh) must have been too sexist for him to utter. Literally, Trudeau was the laughing stock of the world as critics mocked him around the globe for the insipid statement. Even the spell check I used writing this column told me “peoplekind” isn’t a word.
Then there’s the ongoing controversy over proposed changes to Canada’s national anthem. The irrelevant senate is somehow involved in suggesting changes (and we all know they are going to be reality) to change the national anthem’s lyrics to make them gender neutral. Apparently, untold scads of critics were very unhappy and offended by lyrics they felt were male-centered and changes should, nay, must be made immediately.
Strange, before 2018 I’d never heard a word about this. But again, tradition falls before the flavour of the month power of political correctness.
Stu Salkeld is editor of The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.