Presidential Election Day Reading: An American Apologizes To Canada

This story appears in the print edition of the current issue and will be online here for all eternity (or until we upgrade this website and break all the links). But let’s make things real easy. Here’s a great article that Paul Constant, a real live American, wrote specifically for you guys. You should read it.

THE APOLOGY TOUR STARTS HERE

The United States is sorry, in more ways than one

By Paul Constant/Illustration by Dakota McFadzean

People of Saskatchewan, I am so sorry. I’m a proud citizen of the United States, but I’d like to formally apologize to all of you for the electoral spectacle that you’ve been forced to watch for the last two years. As political correspondent for Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger, I’ve followed Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama all around my country. I’ve even shaken Romney’s hand at a rally. (In case you’re curious, he’s got a creepily efficient handshake: exactly two and a half swift pumps accompanied by a simulacrum of eye contact and a hollow smile, as though a scientist spent decades perfecting the most average handshake imaginable.) I’m a political junkie, a presidential history buff and I desperately love my job, but even I’m disgusted by the America I’ve seen.

It’s easy to fall prey to the belief that all Americans are racists who’ll hang Obama in effigy on their lawns, or monstrous shambles of men who claim with alarming sangfroid that rape isn’t really that bad, or gun-worshipping ghouls who believe that God is a little bearded man who perches on their shoulders and whispers homophobic, anti-science rants into their ears. And you probably believe we Americans all vote against our own financial interests — affordable health care, higher taxes on the wealthy, laws to protect us from corporate greed — because we harbor the illusion that we’re just one lottery ticket away from becoming spiteful billionaire slave-drivers ourselves.

But that’s not true. Only about half of us are like this.

The impulse to blame is strong, and culprits are everywhere. Our news media are easily the dumbest and laziest in the First World. Because we loathe taxes down to our DNA, our schools are fomenting armies of vacuous boobs who believe critical thought means posting a one-star review on Yelp. Then 9/11 happened, blowing out the circuit boards of a whole generation of our wishy-washiest liberals, transforming them into paranoid, frightened babies who throw their tantrums at the ballot box, electing only the shrillest and most offensive candidates. Bill Clinton pushed liberals to the political middle, and then George W. Bush pushed conservatives to the primate side of the evolutionary scale. You could throw around enough accusatory fingers to blind a good-sized metropolitan area.

But the thing I want you to know is that, in red states and blue states, I’ve met Americans who describe themselves as progressives and liberals and even, occasionally, as socialists. Thanks to that idiot media I mentioned earlier, you never hear about the good people because they’re not insane enough to garner attention. And when times are tough in the United States — when, say, John Kerry proves to be inept enough to lose an election against George W. Bush, somehow — the good Americans, the sane Americans, look to you for guidance. Canada’s universal health care, workers’ rights policies, marriage equality and state funding for the arts have been a guiding light for those of us who have been buried under a thick blanket of mouth-breathing, climate change deniers.

Seeing the conservative lean of your country — and your province — breaks the hearts of America’s progressives and could dash our hopes for good. You’re supposed to be the studious, responsible younger sister; don’t set a bad example for us by running off with the Bible-thumping brutes who want to see you barefoot, pregnant and dumb. We’re just now trying to dig ourselves out of that trap.

Anyway, I’m sorry that you have to watch all of this. I love visiting your country, and in a trip to Vancouver last year, I turned on a hotel TV to see a ridiculous political advertisement in which shadowy Chinese businessmen laughed and congratulated each other, in plainly racist caricatures of Chinese accents, for destroying America by promoting a fairer health care system. Our polluted airwaves are dragging their sickness up here to frighten you with the ugliest boogeymen of our political process.

Believe me: about half of us Americans are staring, slack-jawed, at the evangelical hate-mongers and apocalyptic fear-peddlers, same as you. We’re donating money and volunteering our time to stop them. I can’t guarantee our success, but I can promise you that by the time election day comes around, we will have done the best we possibly can.

If we succeed, it will be, in part, because you helped show us the way.

Paul Constant writes an awful lot of stuff for Seattle’s Pulitzer prize winning alternative newsweekly, The Stranger. You can read more of his work here.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth will never, ever pass up a chance to make a Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo pun.

3 thoughts on “Presidential Election Day Reading: An American Apologizes To Canada”

  1. Saskatchewan’s Conservative MPs are no better than the kind of people he describes in the second paragraph, and Mitt Romney would have no problem getting elected here. This is well written but I think he’s apologizing to the wrong province.

  2. You’d think George Bush Jr would have used this after he left office before Obama took over.

    It doesn’t surprise me if Canadians like Obama more. The Republican era of George Bush Jr is still too fresh in our minds.

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