Understanding Trump: An Historical Perspective

Written by Harold McNeill on February 10th, 2017. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Obama and Trump

NetFlix Documentary Review: The Untold History of the United States

As with many, I am (or a least was) perplexed by how the United States managed to elect a President that, in almost every way, is the polar opposite of his predecessor, Barack Obama. After reading dozens of news articles linked by various FB friends, as well as having rooted out others from various sources, I was no further ahead. Heck, no one came close to understanding how the man managed to become President.

Almost all sought to explain the troubling aspects of Donald Trump’s ascent to power, in terms of his personality and the cult surrounding him. Of course, the same explanations, from the flip side of the coin, could be applied to Barack Obama. However, none of the explanations took into account the historical aspects of America’s ascent to world domination, both militarily and economically, over the middle part of the last century (1940 – 1960). It was a time when politics flowed out much as it has over the past two decades, with the Obama Presidency being the most peaceful interlude in decades of US hegemony.

Back in the last century, what followed World War II, was a series of ongoing wars: The Cold War, Korean War, Viet Nam War, then, the back-to-back Wars on Crime, Drugs and, most recently, Terror. These wars have sustained the US position in the world over the past seven decades. But with the recent emergence of China as an economic superpower and the aggressive nature of Putin’s Russia, the current US President may easily find new wars in which to invest its collective energy. None of this background, as far as I know, has been part of the narrative in explaining the rise of Donald Trump.

It is only over the past few days of watching Oliver Stone’s epic ten-part series, The Untold History of the United States, (Season I) that I came to a better understanding of both the Obama and Trump presidencies. Trump did not suddenly appear on our doorstep in 2016; he first arrived in 1945 dressed as a Democrat and elected as the 33rd President, Harry S. Truman. (2)

Back in 1945, the person expected to become President, Henry A. Wallace, an extremely popular pacificist (not unlike Barack Obama) was cast aside, in one of the ugliest conventions in recent history when Democratic party insiders manipulated the voting process to put in place a man better suited (i.e. easily manipulated) to carry out their collective military and economic interests (1).

I won’t go further with this explanation, as you need to watch at least the first four parts of the Untold History, to gain a perspective on why the world is unfolding as it is in 2017. If you are looking for some relief from the uncertainty that has emerged within the Trump Presidency, you won’t find much. However, it may give you hope in knowing that a good percentage of the American people, now as then, carry within their DNA a gene called peace. That gene may again dominate, but I don’t think it will prevail anytime soon

Where that gene has not only survived but thrived, is within Canada, a small liberal democracy not unlike many other small, liberal democracies around the world (e.g. New Zealand, Australia, the Scandinavian countries, etc.). The challenge Canada has faced throughout our history is remaining a good friend and trading partner with the United States while at the same time maintaining our sovereignty. It helps that each of our Federal and Provincial political parties tend to be considerably left of both the Republicans and Democrats. Although we are often viewed as socialists by many in the United States, the peaceful nature of our democracy is also envied by many in that country.

The next four years will bring a number of tests to our nation as we seek to remain friends and trading partners while making clear our intention to steer away from the belligerent actions that have gained strength within the current administration. We are not alone, in that many of our friends around the world will struggle in much the same manner.  That we have managed to maintain this equilibrium over the past 150 years, gives hope we will be able to do so in the future.  Only time will tell.

Again, you are encouraged to take a few hours to view at least the first four or five parts of Oliver Stones epic series.  In viewing, that which is spoken about above will become crystal clear.

Harold McNeill

Link: The Guardian’s Review of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States

(1)  Following the 2008 Financial Crises, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was put in place by the Obama Administration as one means of preventing a similar catastrophe in the future. The Act did not receive unanimous support, as many believed it did not go far enough to reign in unscrupulous bankers and traders (Washington Post)

It has now emerged that President Trump is intent upon trashing this legislation in a move that leaves wall street jubilant. The beneficiaries will be the Big Banks and Wall Street Traders such as Goldman Sacks, JPMorgan and dozens of others. An accompanying change proposes a reduction in the Corporate Tax from 35% to 20%, a move that provides a massive benefit to the Top 10%.

(2) As you watch the series, jot down occasional notes about key events which shaped the world following WWII and the election of Harry S. Trueman. You can then tick off many items happening today that follow a similar pattern. As for the re-writing of history, take a few minutes to review the biography of Harry Truman on Wikipedia. It is written in glowing terms and he is even credited for many actions initiated by others, as for example, the Marshall Plan.


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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold