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Editorial: Gun. Foot. Bang.

Let's please close the mouth that roars



So as I write this editorial, I now have the convenient news peg, courtesy of A.M. Best research, that more than 26 percent of U.S. insurers believe Donald Trump is the presidential candidate with the most favourable policies towards the P&C industry. To which I want to spew verbal venom like hot magma, complete with a sibilant Seriously?

Yep, this is an anti-Trump column—we can’t have enough of them until he’s gone, until the business world learns executives have a greater responsibility to the world than enabling a sleazeball who will offer corporations generous policies.

I have actually studied dictators. I’ve spoken to concentration camp victims—not ones from Germany, the ones Fascist Italy put in camps that you’ve never heard of in Africa. And the one behind all that started with vulgar attacks on his enemies and blatant, almost childish efforts to capture media attention. But it’s not the grandiosity, the casual racism and the provoking of mob violence that make the resemblance uncanny to old black and white demons. It’s that the demons were ignored. Or ridiculed as buffoons.

In 1985, even as the New York Times commented on Trump’s appalling record as a ruthless slumlord (and CNN dug it all up again last month), a profile by the Washington Post noted his ambitions. He thought he could negotiate better arms talks and make himself an instant expert: “It would take an hour and a half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles. I think I know most of it anyway.”

How many times does big business have to learn that when a demagogue devalues minorities and the poor, he can devalue any of us? And that this doesn’t help capitalism— it actually poisons it. I have a small collection of books on Germany with copyrights of 1934 and 1935, ones that offered urgent warnings. I keep them because the old lie of “We didn’t know” has always pissed me off. It angers me still when reporters claim to find hints of Trump “sounding more presidential” as the election season rolls on.Those who think Trump will change or soften forget that a populist has no trouble at all keeping promises that allow him to hang on to his base—like repressing minorities, ripping up the Constitution to adjust libel laws, re-introducing torture.

But insurance is supposed to be a promise of protection. So shame on the American P&C industry for siding with such a monster, giving him the sustenance of credibility, helping him to gather strength. And shame on my own journalistic profession for not slaying this orangutan-haired Kong when it first stomped around New York and beat its breast, hungry for the spotlight.

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Copyright © 2016 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in the April 2016 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

Transcontinental Media G.P.