Democratic National Convention brings back feelings of the ‘70s

Could the outrage and strong emotions brought on by the US presidential race presage a return to the activism of the 1970s?

I recently returned from a bittersweet week in the Kootenays visiting old friends I had helped in the ‘70s when they migrated north in protest of the Vietnam war. One of them has terminal cancer and hopes to be around long enough to see the Democrats sweep the election.

This group knew each other as university students in Colorado. When they graduated, their names went into a lottery for the draft to fight in a war they believed was wrong.

If they left before their number was drawn then they were draft dodgers. But if their number was drawn and they left after, they would be deserters and could be put in prison.

Another option was to volunteer as a conscientious objector, which meant placement for two years within the United States working in hospitals or other areas to help the country.

Many of these bright young men chose Canada as their best alternative. To my Colorado cohorts, B.C.’s topography most resembled their state.

These events happened to coincide with the breakup of my marriage and joining the ranks of single parenthood with a baby and toddler. It was serendipitous as I had extra rooms in my house for them to stay and they helped me to support my kids.

Soon after their girlfriends and wives arrived we decided to leave the big bad city to go “back to the land”. The Slocan River flows through a ruggedly beautiful valley north-west of Nelson where, 40 years later, there are six families still living there from this group I call the “Colorado gang.”

The reason I’m telling you this is because it was so much fun spending the week of the Democratic National Convention with my ex-pat American friends up in Slocan. Our politics and values have not changed; they are as horrified as I am, if not more, that Donald Trump has made it this far.

The speeches at the DNC took us back to those emotions and feelings we had in the ‘70s during the war, the civil rights movement and the anti-establishment hippy movement. It makes me wonder, are entering a new period of protest and renewal?

I hope so. Our young people are more aware than we give them credit for and I believe they will be the change we need.

Originally, I was a big fan of Bernie Sanders. It was unlikely he would be the Democratic nominee but I had hoped Hillary Clinton would make him her running mate. In retrospect, I believe she made a strategic choice with Tim Kaine. I’m also sure Bernie will be offered an important government position where he will make more of a difference than he could as vice president.

As crazy as the politics have become in the U.S., it is exciting to watch history being made with Hillary. Like she said, “Once we break through that glass ceiling, the sky is the limit.”

Then there is Barack Obama, one of the finest presidents the U.S. has ever had or heard. His delivery of speeches is inspirational.

And then there is Trump, whose name has become a slur, a profanity, a bad joke. Somehow prevails. There is no logic to his bombast, lies and offensive rants.

If Trump somehow manages to become president, Canada will once again need to open the floodgates for the massive brain-drain that will flee the U.S.  If so, my door will be open.

 

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