A Plea to Everyone Lusting Over Justin Trudeau: Please Stop

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Stacy Lee Kong

Jan 06 2021

6 mins read

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Hey, so. I have an awkward request to make. Don’t get mad, okay? Here goes…

Please, please stop thirsting after politicians. Justin Trudeau’s hair flip? Put it out of your mind. Andrew Cuomo’s tight polos? Don’t worry about them. And okay, maybe no one has a crush on Doug Ford, but let’s not get carried away by his newfound dadly competence.

Listen, I get it. We are living in very uncertain/scary/insert-adjective-of-your-choice-here times, and those daily coronavirus briefings are comforting in their predictability. In fact, that’s the entire point of those briefings: to show us that, while the news might be scary, our leadership is steady. (It’s classic crisis management.) But in addition to making it awkward for literally everyone else—the slow-mo hair flip video is extremely cringe, okay?—turning politicians into objects of lust makes it harder for us to think critically about whether they’re actually doing a good job.

It isn’t weird to like a politician better during tough times. The way a leader handles a crisis can absolutely boost their standing among their constituents—as John Ivison pointed out in the National Post, that happens all the time—Bill Clinton’s response to the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995 famously turned his reputation around. Trudeau’s approval rating has soared since February, rising 21 points to 54%, his highest level since 2017. And that’s likely because, in general, he’s done the right things. He has followed the recommendations of public health officials (something not everyone does), signed off on billions in aid for Canadians and struck the right tone in his daily communications with the country.

But while there’s nothing wrong with finding someone—even an elected leader—aesthetically pleasing, admiring the floppiness of his hair becomes a problem when it distracts us from talking about, and even thinking about, the decisions he has been making. And I’m not even talking strictly about his coronavirus response. Trudeau has twice approved the Keystone XL pipeline, which oil companies are now trying to fast-track. But COVID-19 offers up the perfect distraction, so we’re not even talking about it. Or what about Kashechewan, a northern Ontario First Nation that floods every year. Usually, provincial and federal governments team up to evacuate the Nations 2,000 residents, but as of early April, there still wasn’t a plan in place for the community… and once again, we didn’t really talk about it. The virus—and our leader’s good looks—shouldn’t distract us from what else is going on across our country.

And it shouldn’t distract people from thinking critically about coronavirus response, either—especially when the leader in question isn’t even Canadian. Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York is basically the exact opposite of President Trump. His fans, the (ugh) Cuomosexuals, are, by definition, “in love with competent, reassuring governance by a leader who uses complete sentences and displays common sense during a pandemic.” And Cuomo himself is encouraging them—or at least, he’s leaning into his responsible, candid, tough-guy persona, according to a recent Jacobin magazine op-ed. Writer Akash Mehta points to his March 22 press conference, where Cuomo basically laid out his strategy, saying, “I try to present unbiased facts. I try to present numbers because people need information. When you get anxious, when you get fearful, when you don’t get the information or you doubt the information, or you think people do not know what they are talking about, or you think you are getting lied to … so I present facts.”

That is definitely an indictment of Trump’s behaviour—even though, as Columbia Journalism Review pointed out, Cuomo should be facing some difficult questions, too. Like, “why, in January, didn’t New York plan for these closures, informing parents that schools might close and businesses couldn’t operate normally? Why was the severity of COVID-19 denied, with Cuomo succumbing to public pressure to enact tough measures when it was effectively too late? Why is a governor being praised for his leadership skills when a shelter-in-place order came twenty-two days after the first coronavirus case? Why is New York City the next Northern Italy?”

And I’ll add a couple more: why did Cuomo try to cut Medicaid in the middle of a global pandemic? And why’d he introduce legislation that would roll back the state’s new bail reform law? This could lead to many more (mostly marginalized) people being subjected to pretrial detention, something that’s both deeply unjust and a bad idea from a disease-prevention perspective.

This is not to say that you can’t admire or like politicians. I’m a huge fan of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, Jacinda Ardern and Barack Obama. But feelings cannot obscure facts—and that should be especially true during the next election cycle. We don’t need to ‘reward’ politicians who pleasantly surprised us with their pandemic performance (ahem, Doug Ford) unless their policies actually align with our values. And if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be valuing public health, education and fair labour laws—things Ford has historically, uh, considered unimportant.

I know this might sound strange, considering my usual approach to feelings (feel ‘em, I say, and also we can talk about them alllll you want) but: we need to be judging our politicians by what they actually do, not how they make us feel. Especially if that’s floppy hair-induced butterflies.

And Did You Hear About…

Big Poppa.

The backlash against Ellen DeGeneres. It has probably been coming since that photo with George W. Bush, but her ghoulish pandemic prison joke didn’t help—and her recent bout of union-busting was the last straw. So much for being the relatable multi-millionaire, huh?

Kylie Jenner’s most recent paparazzi shots, in which she looks… very different from her usual self. (That is: white. She looks white.)

Beyoncé’s finsta. (At least, I think that’s what Tina Knowles just spilled the beans about.)

Labels changing song titles to include the snippets that go viral on TikTok for better searchability.

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