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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  • Harold McNeill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Thanks, Lynn. It appears there was a problem with the comment system. Cheers, Harold

  • lynnmcneill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Hi Harold – looks great!

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.

  • Valerie Heuman (Roddick)

    June 19, 2016 |

    Having just returned to the Okanagan Valley from a weekend in Pibroch, I am delighted to have stumbled on your blog to see the picture of the main street. My aunt and uncle Peggy & Gordon McGillvery owned and lived in the old Post Office on the North east corner of the main intersection and my brother Adrian currently lives south a bit backing on the School yard. We are Sheila’s cousins and still have a close connection to the town.

  • Sheila(Roddick) Allison

    May 19, 2016 |

    Hi. So fun to find your blog. I remember going to school with you and Louise. I loved my childhood in Pibroch which incidentally was named by my grandfather Aaron Roddick. I will never forget the night the garage burned down. Nice to see the landmark photo before the big fire!

  • George Dahl

    April 12, 2016 |

    What a great site. I’m trying to locate a woman named Sally Jennifer who was from the Cold Lake area back in the early sixties. I met her when I was stationed at Namao air base in Edmonton. I was serving with the USAF 3955 air refueling squadron from rhe fall 1963 till the spring of 64. Sally was 22 at the time I was 21. Sally was my first love. I had orders to ship out to South East Asia and we lost contact after that.
    If any of you know the where abouts of Sally I would like to get reacquainted with her. She is First Nation, Blackfoot I believe. She is Catholic and may have attended a Catholic school in Cold Lake.
    Thank You in advance, George Dahl

  • dave armit

    March 23, 2016 |

    good old fashioned police work done by good old fashioned policemen……….in regards to mr cain..i learned a few years ago that he was born on the same day in the same hospital that i was..my father was a close friend of the cain family…!!! interesting..d a

  • Joyce McMenamon

    March 1, 2016 |

    Haha, love it! We should probably eat rats and rabbits rather than beef. Also I’ve noticed that there are a lot less pests where dogs are not kept on leashes.

  • Kari

    February 27, 2016 |

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane Dad!!! That was an amazing trip and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to share that experience together!

  • Ann and Herb

    January 17, 2016 |

    Love the new music – one of my most favourite ever- and love the story. Thank you for keeping us forever young in the photo! It is such a gift to know a person who writes so joyously and respectfully of his family and friends. It fills our hearts to know that you count us among them.

    A & H