The gap between Canadian and American values will grow wider in 2022.
Once, what seems long ago, we were happy with our southerly neighbours. The mood soured with the improbable election of Donald Trump in 2017. Then the proportion of Canadians who saw the United States as “a negative force in today’s world” grew to 6 out of 10. In the eyes of Canadians, that made America the most negative country.
Canadians even saw North Korea as less negative than the U.S. North Korea was second at 46 per cent.
Before the election of Trump, we had an overwhelmingly positive opinion of the U.S.
And why not? We have historically had a positive opinion of the U.S. for good reason. Our friends, relatives, and business partners in the U.S. are often within driving range.
My dad was born in the U.S. and became a Canadian citizen when he married my mom. I often visited my aunt in Ventura, California when she was still alive.
Like many Canadians, I once saw the United States as a bustling place where exciting developments in technology and culture were constantly taking shape.
Today, I see a dangerously fractured society that is diminished and dangerous.
Political events in the U.S. are alarming.
One year ago the impossible happened when thousands of radicalized, ill-informed Americans stormed the Capitol building to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden as president.
It’s astonishing that 39 percent of the Republican Party refuse to accept Biden as president.
The angry mob that attacked The Capital was encouraged by the maniacal demigod Donald Trump. They included present and former members of the military.
As the anniversary of the insurrection on January 6 approaches, three retired U.S. generals have warned that another insurrection could occur after the 2024 presidential election and that the military could instigate it.
In their article in the Washington Post they said: “In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.”
One of those generals, retired General Paul Eaton, told National Public Radio in the U.S.:
“I believe that we need to war-game the possibility of a problem and what we are going to do. The fact that we were caught completely unprepared — militarily, and from a policing function — on Jan. 6 is incomprehensible to me. Civilian control of the military is sacrosanct in the U.S. and that is a position that we need to reinforce.”
Trump channels the values and attitudes of a segment of American society whose numbers and influence are in decline: generally older, white voters, disproportionately male, who are alarmed by demographic and social change.
Pollster Michael Adams finds a widening gap between U.S. Democrats and Republicans that is not evident in Canada (Globe and Mail, January 1, 2022)
Even Albertans, generally said to be the most conservative Canadians, are more likely to be aligned with Democrats in the U.S. than Republicans.
As for the Conservative Party, the social values of its supporters are much more similar to those of Liberal supporters than the values of Republicans.
The ugly wound on the American body politic will not heal in the foreseeable future.
Canadians can only look nervously to the south at the unraveling of a once proud nation.