Dear America, We’re better than you.
You probably don’t know it – why would you? – but this ill-tempered little thought lurks in the heart of every Canadian. (Except the Canadians who’ve moved south to make serious money.)
It’s a rather hypocritical train of thought, given our love of your TV shows, movies, pro sports, Florida vacations and cross-border malls with their low, low prices where you can always find parking.
But it’s true. And it’s all thanks to an extraordinary day that arrives on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every fourth year. I refer, of course, to Election Day.
It’s not the day itself that’s the problem. It’s everything that takes place for the three years leading up to it.
This time round, we were introduced to new concepts, like “legitimate rape” and binders full of women (which sounds a little like a scrapbooker’s preferred form of pornography). We saw an extremely wealthy Jew go on holiday to Israel with a very wealthy Mormon who later vowed to never ever bring peace to the region. We heard a former president – one so hated by his political opponents in his own day as to be impeached by the House – hailed as the godfather of bipartisanship. And we saw a vice-president with teeth shinier than his cufflinks.
Every four years, we take in the multibillion-dollar carnival of accusation, hate, vilification, outrage, bitterness, envy, detestation, revenge, odium, malice and grandstanding. It’s the original reality TV show: the skuzzier the players, the better the entertainment.
So here’s a piece of advice from your neighbours to the north: Be more boring.
For example, during a recent Canadian election debate, a citizen posed a question. It wasn’t about rape or assault rifles or an alleged African birthplace. It read thus: “As a leader, how do you envision the social makeup of our country over the next 30 years?” Is it even possible to get past the words “social makeup” without brushing your teeth and turning in for the night?
Fixate on policy. Pose sincere questions and answer them to the best of your ability. And for gosh sake, don’t offend anyone.
So the next time some libertarian survivalist shows up at a political rally with a loaded gun, don’t put him on the evening news. Instead, run a story about an eight-year-old boy from rural Nova Scotia whose saxophone floated out to sea. Then convene a panel of journalists to soberly debate what the government could have done to prevent it. Follow it with the weather and listen to the sweet sound of 300 million people snoring.
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