To America With Love: American Politics Through the Eyes of a Canadian

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not, and have never been, a political science major.   I’m not even one of those people who’s “al...

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not, and have never been, a political science major.  I’m not even one of those people who’s “always been interested in politics”; I’ll shamefully admit that I’ve had to Google ‘libertarianism’ more times than I’m proud of.  They say you should write what you know, so I guess things are really going off the rails here. Despite all of these, very good, reasons for why I probably should NOT be writing this; here we are.

First of all, if you are Canadian watching American political debates for the first time, get ready because it’s fucking wild.  This is not going to be three relaxing hours of Mulcair’s seemingly Valium-induced smiles at the camera (I maintain that this is what cost him the damn election). It’s not even going to peak with some older men talking over each other in slightly elevated voices, trying to talk about key issues (I know, could it get any worse?!). Seriously, buckle up, because unless you are from Alberta, this is quite literally your first rodeo and you’re about to be thrown off that bucking bronco in the most violent, exhilarating ride of your life. Maybe that’s an oversell.

To an outsider, our prime ministerial debates largely consist of friendly-looking middle-aged people saying things like ‘Sir, I’m sorry, but you are wrong’ and similarly damaging insults. As Canadians, we know that beneath those harsh looks and gentle hand waving, there are very real issues that candidates differ on.  This past election saw some truly exciting political action; being the longest in Canadian history - a whopping 78 days, a colossal waste of money – we had ample opportunities for embarrassing missteps and expensive (I’m looking at you, Conservatives) attack ads.  And quite honestly, for me, this was quite enough drama. Though exciting, I take it as a good sign that we have not become a nation so divided that the major political parties have to differ so dramatically that half of the country’s population feels entirely unrepresented (I know that many people feel this way, but I assure you, by American standards things are just peachy).  We need only to look to our southern neighbours to see the effects of this alienating, divisive brand of politics, that quite honestly, we inched closer to in our last election. Fortunately for many of us, we overwhelmingly chose the progressive option (if we consider Liberal and NDP to be the major progressive options), definitively denouncing the very thing that America is still entertaining.  And really, most importantly, Canadians have the good sense to ensure that the election is finished before the hockey season really gets going, and we simply cannot concentrate on anything as silly as politics.

Now, I have no desire (that’s not true, I very much have the desire, but in this case I will bite my virtual tongue) to weigh in on who I would vote for in the election, much less the primaries, but as a concerned outsider looking in I sincerely hope that citizens are not being fooled by petty name-calling and ridiculous personal attacks. Creating a political campaign based on fear, racism, and hate should NOT be entertained, even if there are (few) sound ideas buried in the platform. It is quite frankly disgusting, and wholly alienates a large portion of law-abiding, hard-working citizens.  Unfortunately, voting is harder than ever for this population thanks to measures put in place to prevent non-existent voter fraud.  This is where, short of simply changing the rules that target the most vulnerable, making sure people are aware of any changes and requirements becomes all the more important, especially long before election day.

So please, dear neighbours – or ‘neighbors’ if you, like Microsoft Word, do not recognize Canadian spelling – we (mostly) love you, and don’t want to see you go down this road.  I, and the majority of my fellow countrymen/women, hope that you make the choice to denounce these politics of fear and racism, become informed, and help to inform those who might not have access to the appropriate resources. There is still time.

And finally, in true Canadian fashion, I’d like to preemptively apologize to anyone who might be offended by my opinions here, and I’ll leave you with this as consolation:

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