J. Stewart Cook


I am being heard, but am I understood. Was Donald Trump gifted with superior powers of utterance or persuasion, or perhaps seen as a modern day philosopher, a challenge to France’s Voltaire. Or was he a man of simple words, a public activist, who had the ability to convince the masses that his word was gospel.

It has been a challenge to many to truly understand what Donald Trump has been conveying to the American public throughout the present day election. What does he mean; I understood, however;  I believe it was; What did he say? Phrases we have heard time and again and, yet, clarity is left to the individual to decipher.

Is he a master of spin or are his words complex and difficult to follow? He speaks in order that the average person may understand what he is saying as it flows from his heart. However, such heart felt words may not always hold him in good standing with all.

“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth are unemployed, what the hell do you have to lose?”

Case in point. The above comment could not have been more damaging to Donald Trump even if his political life depended upon it! He may have spoken the truth, but the manner in which it was said resonated negatively with the entire electorate. Perhaps the following would have been more appropriate:

“You’re living in poverty, which need not be and can be eliminated. Your schools need to be improved and brought up to the highest standards. Employment is high, but jobs will be created and the 58 percent unemployment rate amongst the youth can be lowered or even eradicated. YOU HAVE EVERYTHING TO WIN!

Ask yourself the following…why? People approach situations from various perspectives. As a Canadian, I see it one way, you see it another way. Did Donald Trump see the glass half empty or half full? Is he naturally a optimist (half full) or a pessimist (half empty)? There’s a famous saying in English: “Never contend with a man who has nothing to lose.” This means that people who are already poor, powerless, or lonely are dangerous to fight against because they will take the biggest risks. Did Donald Trump think of his audience in this manner? Or was he simply using emphasis to point out to his audience that things cannot get any worse and turning to me will provide you with a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Not to be forgotten, his comment could have been addressed to any segment of society in America. Yes, it was addressed to the African-American voters and done so to emphasize the plight they face within their community. Was it the best approach? Perhaps, not. Could it have been phrased differently to avoid inciting political intolerance? Most certainly.

Everyone has their own opinion of Donald Trump and what he says in a public forum. It may never be clear to all what he is truly conveying to the electorate, nevertheless, there is no reason not to hold him accountable. For he is, indeed, the man with the golden tongue.

J. Stewart Cook has been involved in Canadian politics since he was a teen.  He was actively involved during Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s era during the latter years of the Cold War, serving as an advisor to three different Members of Parliament and Press Secretary to Stewart McInnes, a Federal Cabinet Minister from Nova Scotia. Mr. Cook left active politics in 1988 and entered the Canadian Federal government as a civil servant in the field of Access toInformation and Privacy (ATIP). He retired from the government in 2011 as Director of ATIP for one of the Federal Departments. He currently lives in Ottawa.