Expansion, Picton Gazette

If you believe in the adage “when the United States gets a cold Canada sneezes” or if you follow the daily news on the Trump administration in the U.S. you may well want to attend this fundraiser for the Picton Library expansion at the Regent Theatre on Thursday, July 19 at 7 p.m. That evening David Frum, the author of the best-selling Trumpocracy will be on the Regent stage with Prince Edward County resident Thomas Harrison discussing the book and jousting over current political events that cannot help but impact Canadians.

Frum is a well-known journalist and current senior editor of The Atlantic magazine and past speechwriter for George W. Bush. He is a staunch Republican with a deep-rooted belief in that party’s vision, principles, and policies.

“With that in mind the writing of Trumpocracy must have been a painful exercise” commented one of our patrons who is three-quarters of the way through the book. “Frum does not mince words” our patron went on to say, “he not only questions how a person without qualification, or apparent interest in government, or knowledge of world affairs could ascend to the office of the President of the United States, but he demonstrates the President’s singular disinterest in governing except for the purposes of personal gain and self- aggrandizement.”

Thomas Harrison makes his home in Prince Edward County. He is a farmer, teacher and lawyer who for the last eight years has taught legal professionalism as an adjunct at Queen’s University Faculty of Law. Harrison has formerly taught high school and worked as a Child and Youth Worker. When not teaching or involved in the community he spends his time writing and managing his horse farm near Cherry Valley.

Harrison is imminently qualified to comment when he says: “I am especially interested in his idea that as part of “rulership”, what he calls Trumpocracy is about ignoring or breaking the democratic rules, many of them informal.

“He says some corruption is normal, but corruption with impunity is what leads to kleptocratic autocracy, like we see in Russia. The problem he identifies is that once broken, it’s hard to regain public integrity. This goes for ongoing developments like the upcoming SCOTUS appointment, resulting from the recent retirement announcement. It is remarkable that a sitting President whose actions are under investigation would be able, also right before a midterm election, to be in a position to choose someone to sit on court that might well be called on to decide his fate.”

In the introduction to his book Frum makes a grim prediction. He says “Democracy is a work in progress. So is democracy’s undoing.” He goes on to say “Between 1975 and 2000, countries in every continent turned from repressive regimes to the rule of law, away from dictatorships of a single man or a single party toward multiparty democracy. Since then, democracy has gone into retreat. From Russia to South Africa, from Turkey to the Philippines, from Venezuela to Hungary, authoritarian leaders have smashed restraints on their power. Media freedom and judicial independence have eroded. The right to vote remains, but the right to have one’s vote counted fairly may not.”

If you find this disturbing or, indeed, if you disagree with this assessment, you may want to attend this discussion. Harrison will moderate questions from the audience and will engage with the author in lively discourse. Copies of the book are available to borrow or to buy at the Picton library. Read Trumpocracy ahead and take this opportunity to pose those questions that occur to you in your reading of this provocative, eye-opening book. As Harrison says: events have continued to develop since he published, so [we] will be especially interested in his thoughts on North Korea, NAFTA and trade and the ongoing Mueller investigation.”

Tickets for the event are $25. Proceeds are in support of the library expansion project, with a portion going to the Regent Theatre. They are going fast so if current events and politics interest you book your tickets now at theregenttheatre.org.

-Barbara Sweet