Yesterday was Martinstag in Germany.
I suppose if you think about it, it’s St. Martin’s Day here in Canada, too.
The occasion is said to be quite popular with children, with lots of colourful lanterns, costumes and sweets. Sort of like Halloween, only with more conventionally religious overtones.
It turns out the Germans don’t celebrate Remembrance Day! Who knew?
Maybe the fact that Remembrance Day, previously known as Armistice Day, takes its date from the armistice that ended World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, has something to do with this.
After all, while formally an armistice, and therefore not quite officially a surrender, 11-11-18 certainly marked a victory for the Allies and a defeat for Germany.
I was thinking about this last night, not just for the obvious reason, but because of the way Donald Trump’s presidency continues to wind down like a slow-motion train wreck — tiresome and extremely distressing at the same time, with potentially ugly long-term consequences for everyone involved.
It occurred to me that, as is often the case with wars, elections normally end with someone winning. And this, almost inevitably, means that someone also lost.
In the case of Armistice Day 1918, Germany was the loser, so I suppose you can forgive the Germans for not making a big whoop-de-do out of the occasion.
In the case of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, the loser was Mr. Trump – and this will be so even in the unlikely event he and his supporters manage to pull off the soft judicial coup they seem to have in mind and the leaders of the U.S. military wash their hands of their oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
Probably won’t happen. Democrat Joe Biden’s lead — both in the popular vote and the Electoral College — is now just too big, and seems to be growing a little with every recount, as in fact tends to happen with legitimate recounts everywhere.
Still, the apparent unwillingness of the entire Congressional wing of the Republican Party to recognize this is troubling.
You’ll remember how David Frum, the Canadian-born speechwriter for President George W. Bush and author of Trumpocalypse, observed in 2018 that “if conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”
If the contretemps south of the 49th Parallel indicates anything, it’s that we’re there already, not that we might be at some indeterminate point in the future.
Mr. Trump couldn’t win democratically on Nov. 3. Now his Republicans seem to be renouncing democracy, democratic rhetoric notwithstanding.
This should concern Canadians because the Conservative Party of Canada and the Republican Party in the United States are nowadays joined at the hip and the head.
In the United States, thanks to the patchwork U.S. federal voting system, Republican state legislatures have been cheating their way to easy victories so long by suppressing votes, gerrymandering electoral districts and intimidating voters that when it doesn’t work it actually may seem to many Americans that the other guy was cheating!
This is a little harder to do in Canada, but as we saw when Stephen Harper was prime minister, not to mention during Jason Kenney’s successful effort to capture the leadership of Alberta’s conservative movement, the same kind of thinking is not exactly a foreign concept to Canadian Conservatives.
So if American conservatives have already given up on democracy – as the evidence from the presidential election strongly suggests they have – it won’t be long before their Canadian counterparts reach the same conclusion. Assuming, of course, that they haven’t already.
As President Trump observed, not all that unreasonably, about mail-in ballots and other democratic reforms to make it easier for Americans to vote: “If you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
The same would likely be true for Canada’s Conservatives if we were to adopt democratic reforms compatible with our Parliamentary system like those in New Zealand.
Assuming Mr. Trump fails in his effort to get someone else to take the risk of ginning up a coup to keep him in power, perhaps he’ll try for a rematch in in 2024.
One can only pray the consequences of that will be less catastrophic than the rematch Germany sought two decades after the events of 1918.
Committing to democracy and doing something nice for the kiddies every St. Martin’s Day would be a much better plan for North America’s conservatives.