You can’t blame Canadians for feeling a little “déja vu” while watching the U.S. election process unfold on our TV sets.
The “hope” versus “fear” theme that is permeating the campaign south of the border certainly has a familiar ring to it given that’s precisely how our own federal election transpired back in October.
On the one hand, you had former prime minister Stephen Harper playing the “fear” card on everything from the economy and crime to the Syrian refugee crisis, immigrants in general, and the fight against terrorism. Essentially, it was a message aimed at exploiting our differences rather than what unites us.
The Liberals under leader Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, opted for a “positive” campaign—with promises of “sunny ways” being the linchpin of what ultimately proved to be a winning strategy that resonated with voters right across the country.
Fast forward to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s speech last Thursday night to close out his party’s convention in Cleveland. In what many pundits have labelled perhaps the “darkest” speech every delivered by a major U.S. political candidate, Mr. Trump didn’t just play the “fear” card but hammered it in outlining why only he is capable of keeping America safe from all the various scourges threatening the country’s very existence.
Contrast that to Hillary Clinton who, just like Mr. Trudeau last fall, is expected to project a kinder, gentler, and more hopeful view of the future when she formally accepts the Democratic Party’s nominee for president tomorrow night in Philadelphia.
None of this is new, of course. U.S. President Barack Obama rode his mantra of “hope and change” into the White House eight years ago. Here in Canada, the late NDP leader Jack Layton penned a letter to Canadians prior to his death in 2011 that trumpeted his belief in “hope over fear,” which, ironically, the Liberals were able to capitalize on better than his own party did in the last election.
Sure, glowing words quickly can ring hollow if they aren’t followed up by concrete actions. And certainly choosing to see the world only through rose-coloured glasses belies the very serious and complicated issues we face moving forward.
In the end, though, hope must win out over fear. Embracing our similarities over exacerbating our differences. Joining together over building walls (literally and figuratively).
Hope for a better tomorrow is perhaps the most innate trait of humanity. It’s what gets us out of bed every morning; it’s how we overcome obstacles and strive to succeed.
Without it, we truly have nothing—and we cannot ever allow that to happen.