THE GAP BETWEEN Canadian and American values will grow wider in 2022.
We were relatively happy with our neighbours until the arrival of Donald Trump in 2017. Then the proportion of Canadians who saw the United States as “a negative force in today’s world” rose to 6 out of 10.
Canadians saw the U.S. even more negatively in 2018 than North Korea, which was second at 46 per cent.
That represented a rapid shift in the way we view our neighbours to the south. Before the election of Trump, we had an overwhelmingly positive opinion of our neighbours to the south.
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 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 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 fractured society that is diminished and dangerous.
Political events in the U.S. have been alarming.
One year ago the impossible happened when thousands of radicalized, ill-informed Americans stormed the Capitol building to disrupt the certification of the results of the presidential election in which Joe Biden won.
It’s astonishing that 39 percent of the Republican Party refuses to accept President Biden as president.
The angry mob was encouraged by the maniacal demigod Donald Trump. They included present and former members of the military.
At the anniversary of the insurrection on Jan. 6, 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,” they wrote.
One of those, 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 relative 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, Jan. 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 proud nation.
David Charbonneau is a retired TRU electronics instructor who hosts a blog at http://www.eyeviewkamloops.wordpress.com.