On Canadian calendars, Nov. 3 is nothing special. And yet, this Tuesday will be one of the most important days in our history.

In 1969, Pierre Trudeau went to Washington and told Americans that living next to them was “in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt." Fifty-one years later, the whole world is sleeping with an elephant. And these days, the beast is definitely not even-tempered. The fate of the Trump presidency will be decided on Tuesday — although we may not know the results of the U.S. election for days or even weeks. There is no shortage of opinions in other publications about why “the worst American president in modern history” should be defeated.

The charter of The Conversation states that we will “provide a fact-based and editorially independent forum, free of commercial or political bias.” What does “editorially independent” mean? It means we publish articles from all sides of the political spectrum, as long as those analyses are backed by facts and research. We have, for instance, published stories that were critical of Justin Trudeau, Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh — all astute analyses backed by facts.

But I will be the first to admit that the majority of our stories about U.S. politics have made the case against a second Trump term. And this is why the “fact-based” part of our charter is so important. Former U.S. senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said: “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” But what we’ve seen happen over the past four years is that if people don’t agree with your opinion, they simply won’t acknowledge the facts. This has become a problem for journalism.

The mission of The Conversation is to share knowledge in order to inform decisions. But what happens to a democracy when a large portion of its citizenry habitually dismisses facts and expertise? One of the most disturbing stories I’ve read as the U.S. election approaches was by Charlotte Alter in Time magazine. She spent three weeks driving through Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — blue states that unexpectedly turned red in 2016 — and discovered what she called the “unlogic” that drives many Trump supporters. “Unlogic is not ignorance or stupidity; it is reason distorted by suspicion and misinformation, an Orwellian state of mind that arranges itself around convenient fictions rather than established facts,” she wrote.

Win or lose on Tuesday, Trump’s lasting legacy will be his role as the champion of anti-truthers. The president’s thousands of lies are well documented (mostly by Canadian journalist Daniel Dale, who works for CNN), but his attacks on scientists and expertise have implications far beyond the U.S. border. Trump’s bastardization of the term “fake news” — an expression popularized years ago by another fact-finding Canadian journalist, Craig Silverman of Buzzfeed News — has now become the familiar refrain of autocratic leaders around the world who reject legitimate criticism. It’s a disturbing contagion. We’ve seen the rise of conspiracy theories about COVID-19 in Canada, and social platforms like Facebook recently tried to stop the spread of QAnon followers in Québec.

Even if Trump is defeated on Tuesday, the campaign against facts will continue. Undaunted, we will continue to do our part to fight the good fight. That’s because facts matter. Evidence matters. Research matters. Expertise matters. Truth matters. 

For your weekend reading, I’ve assembled some excellent fact-based stories from the global network of The Conversation about the U.S. election — including an analysis by former MP Peggy Nash (now at Ryerson University) about what the election results will mean for feminism.

Scott White

CEO | Editor-in-Chief

Weekend Reads: An election that matters to the world

What a Trump win or loss will mean for feminism

Peggy Nash, Ryerson University

A Trump loss on Nov. 3 would demonstrate that the grassroots organizing of American women has paid off.

Why voter loyalty to incumbents could spell victory for Trump

Thomas Klassen, York University, Canada

Americans at the ballot box have historically adopted the adage: Better the devil you know than the devil you don't. Does that mean Trump will win a second term?

Can America survive the re-election of Donald Trump?

Henry Giroux, McMaster University

Americans can survive a second Trump term if they resurrect a language of critique and possibility that draws from history and shields the U.S. from authoritarianism.

Donald Trump is hardly the ‘Republican Jesus’

Tony Keddie, University of British Columbia

The Republican political strategy that uses Christian language to cast Trump as a divinely appointed protector of an authoritarian Christian nation warrants more scrutiny than it's received.

Why there’s so much legal uncertainty about resolving a disputed presidential election

Richard Pildes, New York University

Federal election law is riddled with uncertainties. And that's not a good situation for the country if it finds itself in the middle of a contested election.

Where the politicization of the US Supreme Court could lead

Emma Long, University of East Anglia

Republicans won the recent battle over nominations to the US Supreme Court with the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett. The loser might be the court itself.

Whether it’s for Trump or Biden, Americans who trust others are more likely to vote

Cary Wu, York University, Canada

Democracy only works well when citizens participate in the democratic process and participate equally. But in the United States, lack of trust is eroding democracy's promise.

This Halloween, witches are casting spells to defeat Trump and #WitchTheVote in the U.S. election

Jessalynn Keller, University of Calgary; Alora Paulsen Mulvey, University of Calgary

As the U.S. election approaches, various groups have mobilized to vote. But witches have taken it a little further, organizing online spellcasting meet-ups to engage in magical resistance.