For some, the improbable presidential candidacy of Donald Trump stopped being funny long ago. Republican eminences and custodians of the establishment gawk at the GOP front-runner's belligerent braggadocio, his irreverent attacks on party grandees, his far-fetched proposals, his aversion to substance or basic facts, and his not even thinly veiled bigotry.
And yet, Trump stands on the cusp of winning the Republican nomination, impervious to the slings and arrows of a growing list of vanquished foes.
There is one man, though, who seems to have also mastered the art of branding and showmanship for an adoring if partisan public — in a completely opposite fashion.
Canada's new Liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, stormed to a stunning electoral victory last year. He did so while coping with the attacks of opponents who cast him as an inexperienced, slightly buffoonish dilettante trading on a powerful family legacy. Sound familiar?
But Trudeau's progressive, inclusive message could not be more different than that of Trump. Here's a rundown.
ON BEING NICE:
Last week, Trudeau tweeted this video explaining why he's wearing a pink shirt. It was part of a campaign against bullying in schools.
"Bullying can leave long lasting emotional scars," Trudeau says. "Kindness is one size that fits all."
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 24, 2016
To a baying chorus of cheers from his supporters, Trump gleefully said he'd like to punch a protester in the face. Ever growling about the perfidy of political correctness, Trump also revels in the language of strength and toughness, so much so that he apparently has no qualms retweeting quotes from the late Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2016
Over the weekend, he mocked Sen. Marco Rubio, one of his main opponents, calling him "lightweight" and "little."
As you can see from the above video, Trudeau is bilingual and gives equal place to both French and English in his public utterances.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 28, 2016
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 28, 2016
"I think that, while we're in this nation, we should be speaking English," Trump declared in September, doubling down on remarks in a debate where he criticized an opponent for making speeches in Spanish. This is despite the fact that Spanish is the first language of tens of millions of Americans.
ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
In the first weeks after coming to power, Trudeau's Liberal government immediately went about rebranding Canada's image as a leader on environmental policy. Ahead of a visit to a global summit on climate change in Paris — where Trudeau would trumpet, "Canada is back!" — he outlined his focus.
"We'll demonstrate that we are serious about climate change," he said. "This means making decisions based on science, it means reducing carbon emissions, including through carbon pricing towards a climate resilient economy."
"I am not a believer, and I will, unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather," Trump said in a radio interview last year, offering a somewhat muddled response on the question of climate change. "I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer, and we have much bigger problems."
The Canadian prime minister championed the plight of Syrian refugees during his election campaign and pushed through a program to bring in more than 25,000 vetted refugees this year. In December, Trudeau greeted the first batch of arrivals at the airport, distributed winter jackets and posed for selfies.
"This is a wonderful night where we get to show not just a plane load of new Canadians what Canada is all about but we get to show the world, how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations," Trudeau said.
"This is something that we are able to do in this country because we define a Canadian not by a skin color or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share."
Safe to say, this is not a view encouraged or shared by Trump, who led the Republican charge against allowing in Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the November terror attacks in Paris (which, it should be noted, had very little to do with Syrian refugees).
"I'm putting people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, they're going back," he said last year.
Rather than people fleeing persecution and war, the refugees represent an alien threat to Trump. "This could be one of the great Trojan horses," he told CNN in November.
Remember that Marco Rubio is very weak on illegal immigration. South Carolina needs strength as illegals and Syrians pour in. Don't allow it
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2016
ON FIGHTING THE ISLAMIC STATE:
Despite criticism at home, Trudeau's Liberal government moved to end Canada's direct combat role in the war against the Islamic State, ending its bombing sorties on the group's positions in Iraq and Syria. Instead, the Canadian military would focus its efforts on training and supporting local militias, including Kurdish factions in Iraq, in their fight against the jihadists.
"Our goal is to allow local forces to take the fight directly to [the Islamic State] and reclaim their homes, lands and future," Trudeau said in a parliament debate in mid-February.
In his speeches, Trump has not indicated that much concern with the "homes, lands and future" of the local forces allied to the U.S. Rather, Trump has emphasized the need for tough, brutal action — badges at his rallies proclaim "Bomb ISIS to smithereens!" — with little interest in the collateral damage it may cause and the necessary steps that would have to follow to stabilize the region.
He also has repeatedly referred to the need of the United States to first destroy and then seize Syria and Iraq's oil assets — a violation of sovereignty that would seriously inflame tensions.
"I would bomb the s--- out of 'em," Trump said last November, referring to oil fields in the hands of the Islamic State. "I would just bomb those suckers. That's right. I'd blow up the pipes. ... I'd blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And you know what, you'll get Exxon to come in there and in two months, you ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies? They’ll rebuild that sucker, brand new — it'll be beautiful."
He has also vowed to use tactics, including torture and the targeting of the families of jihadists, that would be considered war crimes.
At a panel during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, Trudeau celebrated the principles of feminism in a clip that soon went viral. "We shouldn't be afraid of the word feminist," Trudeau said, urging men to embrace their own role in supporting further progress toward gender equality. "Men and women should use it to describe themselves anytime they want."
When it comes to his views on women, Trump's track record does not show the greatest levels of enlightenment. On the campaign trail, he got into a controversial spat with Fox News' female anchor Megyn Kelly, where he used language some deemed terribly sexist. Similar antics have followed with some of his attacks on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The Huffington Post has a rather astonishing compendium of Trump's rhetoric about women. It included this gem from an interview he had with a female reporter, who was asking him about the merits of beauty pageants.
"I mean, we could say politically correct that look doesn't matter, but the look obviously matters," Trump told the reporter. "Like you wouldn't have your job if you weren't beautiful."
ON MOSQUES AND MUSLIMS:
Video footage emerged of Trudeau in 2013 joining a mosque in British Columbia for Ramadan prayers. His appearance infuriated the right-wing blogosphere.
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 13, 2016
In his election campaign, Trudeau and his fellow Liberals spoke against the politics of Islamophobia being aired by the rival Conservatives, whom the Liberals went on to trounce. He has gone on to denounce the rhetoric of the election race taking place south of the border.
"I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that I stand firmly against the politics of division, the politics of fear, the politics of intolerance or hateful rhetoric," Trudeau said during a live town hall last year. “If we allow politicians to succeed by scaring people, we don’t actually end up any safer. Fear doesn’t make us safer. It makes us weaker."
He added that Muslims "are the greatest victims of terrorist acts around the world. Painting ISIS and others with a broad brush that extends to all Muslims is not just ignorant, it’s irresponsible."
In November, Trump said that the United States had "no choice" but to close down certain mosques during an interview on Fox News. A few days later, at a rally in Alabama, Trump also reiterated his desire to spy on and monitor religious institutions.
"I want surveillance of certain mosques if that's okay," Trump said, gesturing to a much-maligned New York program of surveillance. "We've had it before."
At that same rally, he also made a soon-to-be debunked claim that there were thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the destruction of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
Trump, of course, stirred the pot last year when he called for the temporary cessation of all Muslim arrivals to the United States, an act that would make the United States the only country in the world that stops people at its borders on the basis of their religion.
This is the future Canadian leader, dancing at an event honoring Indian independence in 2013.
And here is the Donald making an ungainly cameo on an SNL parody of Drake's hit song, "Hotline Bling."
ON THE MOMENT:
When he unveiled his Cabinet last year, Trudeau was asked a question about its diverse composition, which included myriad minorities as well as an equal number of posts occupied by women. Trudeau's now famous response was a shrug and a simple declaration, "It's 2015."
The Republican front-runner is against what he deems "political correctness" — and would likely consider the deliberate gestures made by Trudeau's government as symptomatic of "PC" culture. He frequently nods to the "good old days," a nostalgic appeal that has real power for the Republican base animated by his candidacy.
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