Metro Morning

'It's about decency': Former U.S. ambassador says midterm elections could be 'loud rebuke of the president'

Former U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman says Tuesday’s midterm elections could serve as “a loud rebuke” of President Donald Trump as Americans decide whether to endorse or reject the tone and direction of his presidency with two years left to go.

Bruce Heyman expects Republicans to lose House, some governorships and local races

Former U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman, seen here earlier this year, said Tuesday President Donald Trump "needs a checks and balance" on his presidency. (CBC)

Former U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman says Tuesday's midterm elections could serve as "a loud rebuke" of President Donald Trump as Americans decide whether to endorse or reject the tone and direction of his presidency with two years left to go.

Heyman, a Democrat who was appointed ambassador by then-president Barack Obama in 2014 and served in the post for nearly three years, blasted Trump in an interview Tuesday morning, saying America has "had the most divisive, ethically and morally challenged presidency over the last two years. And this is a time for Americans to determine what type of America they want."

With some 30 million Americans casting ballots in early voting, Heyman is hopeful that as many as 100 million voters will head to the polls. He expects voters to "judge [Trump] on his values and he needs a checks and balance, which we don't have right now."

Heyman listed the ban against some Muslim travellers, introduced days into Trump's presidency, and migrant children separated from their parents at the border, as well as misogynistic language that surfaced during Trump's presidential campaign, to explain his own strong language and expectations for how the day will turn out politically.

"This man is not what most Americans want, need or expect from the president of the United States, and I think they are going to voice that," Heyman told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives are up for grabs Tuesday, as are 35 of 100 Senate seats and 39 state and territorial governorships, in addition to other state and local offices.

Obama has been out on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates, saying at one rally that "the character of our nation is on the ballot."

Asked what his former boss means by that, Heyman said: "It's about decency. This is a vote about being a decent person and being a decent country. It's about caring for those that are less fortunate."

Heyman suspects the Republicans will lose control of the House, as well as lose some governorships and state races, arguing that the party will retain its base, but little more.

"I think that this has the potential of being a loud rebuke of the president," Heyman said.

'It's not unique to America'

Asked whether the U.S. president has tapped into sentiments that were already bubbling under the surface in America, Heyman said populist politics is "not unique to America."

"We are going through a fairly significant economic change worldwide where the technological revolution is displacing a lot of workers," he said. The gap between rich and poor is "growing ever wider," he added, noting that "it's hard to blame an iPhone for your fate in life, or technology or robotics. It's easier to blame a person."

But to the suggestion that the results of Tuesday's vote could, in fact, exacerbate the divide in America, Heyman said that's not what worries him.

"What worries me is the vitriol and the divide."

There have always been "spirited debates" between Democrats and Republicans about the future of the country, Heyman said.

"But when you become so disagreeable and so hostile and so angry, that is not acceptable. I always say you can disagree but you don't have to be disagreeable. You can disagree and then go out and have a drink afterwards and sit down and talk through how to find paths so it's a win-win and not I win, you lose," Heyman said.

"That's the path we need to get back on, but it has to start at the top, and unfortunately we have a president who is into the language of the divide. And we're going to have him for at least two more years, and so we need that checks and balance and hopefully we will get that today."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.