The PGA of America needs to move the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
It needs to announce the decision today and make it very clear: We want nothing to do with soon-to-be-former President Donald J. Trump.
This is no longer a political issue; it is no longer a case of taking a side with one political party or another. This is about a man who encouraged—all but ordered—his supporters to attempt some sort of clumsy coup d’etat on the United States government. This is about a man who, even AFTER finally telling his supporters it was time to leave the U.S. Capitol following one woman’s death and the Capitol building itself—a major part of our country’s history—had been severely damaged, tweeted: “We love you. You’re very special.”
He then added, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away.” In other words: “I lost, so storming the Capitol, inciting violence and breaking laws is not only allowable, but the people committing those acts are, ‘special.’”
Again, this has nothing to do with whether one voted for Trump or President-elect Joe Biden. It has nothing to do with being in favor of The Wall or not being in favor of it. It has nothing to do with kneeling for the national anthem or pillorying those who did so.
It has to do with a man out of control, a man who has refused to accept the results of a clear-cut election defeat and has continued claiming “a landslide victory,” even though the results of the election have been verified by all 50 states and backed up by dozens of court cases that went against the claims of the president. That’s not to mention the right-leaning Supreme Court, which refused to even take up attempts to have the results of the election thrown out.
It’s important for the PGA of America to act swiftly because golf could have done more in response to the deaths this summer of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor and to the Black Lives Matters movement.
There are, of course, those who will somehow compare the rioting that was part of BLM this summer, to what happened at the Capitol. We will never defend any type of violence or destruction of property, but there is no comparison here; this was an attack on the United States of America, and it was incited by the President of the United States. It was unique, historic and terrifying.
In the past few months, even the NFL, with its largely white, right-leaning fan base, has publicly supported players who have chosen to protest and has conceded that its handling of Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and the anthem protests of 2017 merited an apology.
“I wish we had listened earlier Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a TV interview not long after Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis policeman.
In a video statement released publicly, Goodell went further: “We, the National Football League condemn racism and the system oppression of black people,” he said. “We, the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. I personally protest and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country.”
Golf is the whitest of the major sports—in terms of players, media and fans. Only tennis is even close. Golf is, without question, also the most right-leaning of the major sports. If the 2020 election had been confined to the PGA Tour, there’s little doubt that Trump would have won easily. Icons like Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson have vocally supported Trump with great enthusiasm.
The sport’s tone-deafness continued Thursday when two of golf’s greatest players—Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam—accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump. The case can be made that Tiger Woods should have declined the award in May 2019, but that would have been a political decision—albeit an understandable one given Trump’s record and policies on race. After what happened Wednesday, thanks to Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat, all bets—or acceptance of awards from Trump—should have been off.
The women on the LPGA Tour may not be quite as conservative a group as their male counterparts, but when the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open was played at the same New Jersey course where next year’s PGA Championship is scheduled, most of the players talked about how delighted they were when the President showed up to watch play and mingle with them. Others, when asked about playing on a Trump course, insisted they just wanted to focus on golf.
On other occasions tournaments have been taken to Trump courses, officials have said the decision was strictly about golf and had nothing to do with politics.
That’s fine. Neither does this.
Golfers should be allowed to take any political position they want. Golf tours are allowed to use the “We don’t want politics to be part of golf” line just as often.
But when someone does what Trump did on Wednesday, telling his followers to march up Pennsylvania Avenue and let Congress know how they felt about the election results, he wasn’t telling them to shout a few slogans and go home. “I’m going to lead you up there!” he said—which, of course, he didn’t. “You must be strong!” he added. What did that mean, chant in a loud voice?
There’s a line between stating your political position and encouraging people who you know to be looking for trouble to do so. The fact that many Republicans are now calling him out and suggesting that perhaps the 25th amendment should be invoked, removing him from office, makes it clear that what happened went way beyond political differences.
Golf, as a sport, has been embarrassingly quiet in the seven-plus months since Floyd’s death. This is the time for the sport’s leaders to speak up and take tangible actions. It needs to start with PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh saying, “We are looking today for a new site for the 2022 PGA Championship.”
On Thursday, emails and phone calls to PGA of America vice president of communications Julius Mason went unanswered.
In June 1990, after Hall Thompson, the President of Shoal Creek Club, said Blacks would not be allowed into his club—“That’s just not done in Birmingham,” he said—the PGA looked to move that year’s PGA to another club. Only when a local African-American businessman named Louis Willie was granted instant membership was the event able to stay put.
Even though Willie’s membership was clearly a token move, Shoal Creek was a historic turning point for golf. The PGA Tour, the USGA and the PGA of America, passed rules soon after saying no club that discriminated could host their events. Augusta National admitted its first black member soon after, although it took another 22 years before women were admitted. Nonetheless, it was a turning point.
This can also be a turning point. Turn away from Donald Trump—the man, not the politician. And make it clear that anyone who incites violence for any reason, in any context in the future, is not welcome in golf.
How President Trump's Rhetoric Has Affected U.S. Politics – NPR
'Very mesmerizing': Canadians eye Biden inauguration with relief, anxiety – Toronto Star
Katie Thompson noticed a pattern emerging with appointments made at her chiropractic clinic for Wednesday afternoon that’s usually typical of big sporting events: patients wanted to schedule sessions around the U.S. presidential inauguration.
“We have never experienced this before,” said Thompson, who co-owns the Barrie, Ont., clinic with her husband. “It’s clear that as Canadians, we are paying greater attention to the political climate of the United States now more than ever.”
The clinic has decided it will livestream the Washington, D.C., ceremony so patients and staff can “watch history be made” as president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris take office.
The move felt natural for Thompson after months of speaking with patients about their thoughts and fears in the build-up to the November election that saw Democrat Biden win the presidency over Republican President Donald Trump.
“It would be a shame to miss this transition take place,” she said.
Canadians have found themselves especially glued to American politics over the last four years since Trump was elected president of the United States.
Trump embraced a combative, populist leadership style and cast doubt on the legitimacy of his own government with frequent scandals that saw him impeached by Congress an unprecedented two times.
Earlier this month, his consistent disputing of the election results culminated with his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol in a deadly riot aimed at blocking the transition of power.
Images from the barricaded streets of Washington this week, showing hordes of fatigue-clad National Guard members taking up position ahead of inauguration day, have raised the stakes of Wednesday’s ceremony, stoking anxiety for Americans and concerned observers around the world about potential violence.
Simon Cumming of Surrey, B.C., said he hopes the transition to a Biden presidency brings more stability to the politically divided nation, where he has friends on both sides of the political spectrum.
He’ll be watching on Wednesday with “a combination of relief and a little bit of anxiety,” especially after the violence of the last few weeks.
“I think that the country is so fractured right now and it’s so polarized that you never know what’s going to happen, so there’s a bit of trepidation,” Cumming said by phone this week.
He plans to tune in while working from home.
“I’ll have one eye on the TV and one eye on my computer screen,” he said. “I’ll just turn it on and watch and keep my fingers crossed that nothing bad happens.“
Retired realtor Louise Zieffle was also planning a quiet, pandemic-friendly viewing of the Wednesday ceremony.
She’s taken a closer interest in U.S. politics during Trump’s presidency, which she said has laid bare how the political system works – and how it doesn’t.
“It was very mesmerizing, really,” she said by phone from her Calgary home.
“I’ve been watching American politics, not my whole life, but certainly the last few years because there’s such an influence in our country, and especially in our province.”
She’s observed populism creep into provincial politics in Alberta since Trump took office, especially with the election of United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney in 2019, a leader for whom conflict is also signature part of his brand.
Zieffle said she’s hopeful the U.S. administration change-over can have an impact on politics north of the border.
“I’m very hopeful that will have influence on how Canadian politicians do business,” she said.
Political science and history student Keegan Gingrich, who’s studying at Wilfred Laurier University from his home in Waterloo, Ont., also expressed hope that political watchers in Canada can relax once Biden takes office, after years of waking up with anxiety about the international ripple effects from Trump’s latest tweets.
“It might just be boring politics again, which would be kind of nice at this point,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich plans to watch a Twitch livestream of the inauguration hosted by U.S.-based gamer Hutch, an online figure who’s become more politically engaged in the last few years of Trump’s presidency, streaming live commentary of Trump’s impeachment hearings and the presidential debates.
Gingrich said watching the livestreams and comments from viewers, some of them without much evidence backing up their claims, gives him a sense of the debates and divisions that have defined American politics over the last four years.
“It’s kind of fun to watch,“ he said. ”But at the same time it’s terrifying.“
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020.
Erin O'Toole moves to shake off the Trumpian taint – CBC.ca
Erin O’Toole’s decision to issue a 595-word statement on Sunday about his political beliefs suggests he’s at least a little worried about his public image.
And he might have good reasons to worry. But the question of what kind of conservative Erin O’Toole wants to be is still difficult to answer.
“If the Liberals want to label me as ‘far right,’ they are welcome to try,” O’Toole said in a statement sent to reporters Sunday morning. “Canadians are smart and they will see this as an attempt to mislead people and import some of the fear and division we have witnessed in the United States.”
The “extreme right” allegation was contained in a fundraising email the Liberal Party sent to its supporters last week. The message was part of a week-long effort by Liberals to link O’Toole’s party with the Trumpian style of politics. The Conservative Party had, for example, previously accused the Liberals of “rigging” the last election. O’Toole, the Liberals noted, campaigned for the party leadership on a pledge to “take back Canada.”
However much O’Toole might want to seem undaunted in the face of Liberal charges, he’s not in a position to assume these attacks will fail. Donald Trump’s politics have been shown to be even more poisonous than previously understood. Anything that sounds even remotely similar to Trump is in danger of being considered unacceptably toxic in Canadian public life.
Pitching for the ‘centre’
But O’Toole’s own image is also vulnerable. At the end of 2020, according to Abacus Data, 28 per cent of Canadians viewed O’Toole negatively, compared to 20 per cent who viewed him favourably. At the end of November, the Angus Reid Institute found a similar deficit: 36 per cent had a favourable opinion of the Conservative leader, 42 per cent had an unfavourable opinion.
Given the threat of a Trumpist stain and the weakness of O’Toole’s brand, some kind of response to the Liberals’ criticism was probably necessary. But simply not being Trump is a poor measure of anything and O’Toole’s weekend statement also points to a more interesting matter for the Conservative leader — defining his approach to conservatism.
In his defence, O’Toole touted a number of his beliefs and political positions on Sunday. He has said he wants the Conservative Party to welcome “all Canadians, regardless of race, religion, economic standing, education, or sexual orientation” and to “govern on behalf of all Canadians.”
He says he is pro-choice and believes the party must take inequality “seriously.” He has “lamented the decline of private sector union membership” and “raised the unfairness of the blood ban for gay men.” His first question in the House of Commons as Conservative leader was about reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
“The Conservatives are a moderate, pragmatic, mainstream party — as old as Confederation — that sits squarely in the centre of Canadian politics,” O’Toole said, adding that he would “work tirelessly to restore public confidence in their political leaders and federal institutions.”
The political positions O’Toole described sound quite unlike those commonly associated with Donald Trump. In fact, many of those things might be more commonly associated with liberal or ‘progressive’ politicians.
‘True blue’ vs. ‘mushy middle’
But Sunday’s statement didn’t include O’Toole’s previously stated desire to “fight” to “defend our history, our institutions against attacks from cancel culture and the radical left.” That was an idea that O’Toole put front and centre when he announced his candidacy for the Conservative leadership in January 2020.
In that campaign — which raised questions about O’Toole’s edgier new tone — O’Toole touted himself as the “true blue” Conservative option and suggested that Peter MacKay, the early frontrunner, would turn the Conservative party into “Liberal party lite.” The choice, O’Toole said, would be between running on principles and running toward the “mushy middle.”
During that leadership race, O’Toole was also one of only two members of the party’s Ontario caucus to vote against calling on fellow leadership candidate Derek Sloan to apologize for Sloan’s attack on Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer (Sloan was the other member).
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