Andrew Cohen, a Canadian journalist, author and professor, is a Fulbright Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington
This is the autumn of anxiety. America's future fades like the daylight of October. Its people are sad, numb and low. Didn't you know?
If you haven't heard, things are really, really bad in the United States. Crime is rising. Jobs are fleeing. Drugs are spreading. Terrorism is advancing.
It's a disaster. Believe me.
Mexicans and Muslims storm the borders. The generals are inept. The media is dishonest. The election is rigged.
It's terrible. Believe me.
Everything is dark, dark, dark. No wonder the man on horseback with the orange hair rides in from the golf course and assures the beleaguered folks: "We're going to make America Great Again."
Canada, skeptical Canada, doesn't believe him. We think America is great. Like Hillary Clinton, we never thought it stopped being great – even if we assume Americans did – and we're going to let them know! You see, we feel sorry for them. They need some cheering up. Blame that nasty election, unfolding like a car accident in slow motion.
Invited by a campaign dreamed up by a creative agency in Toronto ("Let's Tell America It's Great"), Canadians are responding. Storming social media, they count the ways. Jazz. Bluegrass. National parks. The Internet. Disability rights. Diversity. Creativity. Generosity ("$215-billion in charitable donations!" says one accountant of envy).
It could go on – and it does. YouTube and Twitter are alight with Canada's valentine to America.
Here in Washington, they notice. Being called great is pretty great. It's what primary teachers these days call their students, no matter how lazy, and high-school coaches call their players, no matter how lousy.
"Leave it to a Canadian ad to deliver the most inspiring message of this election," cooed the Washington Post over a breathless story that began: "Oh, Canada. You're making us blush."
The writer probably thought calling Canada "one of America's closest allies" was a compliment. Hey, you're No. 1 to us but we're chopped liver to you?
The populist campaign is nice and earnest. Peacekeepers and mediators always, we remain the Mr. Rogers of nations. As Justin Trudeau declares: "We're Canadian, and we're here to help."
Still, this love fest is naive, silly, precious and royally embarrassing. It's also rich from a people with a history of episodic anti-Americanism. A dozen or so years ago, for example, Canadians did not think invading Iraq was a great idea. It allowed us, once again, to consider our contented selves more compassionate and progressive. Of course, that was before we had Stephen Harper and they had Barack Obama.
What Canadians miss is that most Americans do think America is great. They have no searing self-doubt. They are naturally patriotic, from their full-throated singing of God Bless America at the seventh-inning stretch to their spontaneous chants of "USA! USA!"
American exceptionalism reflects a nation that sees itself as the best hope of humanity. Great peoples think that way. While they have reversals of fortune and crises of confidence, they have a mission, good or ill.
This country does. The United States has the largest military, the most influential diplomacy, the biggest economy, the most pervasive culture.
Is it a surprise that the United States swept the Summer Olympics? Or that it boasts so many Nobel laureates? Or that Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize in literature?
Yes, Americans are having a hard time, particularly with race and guns. Yes, this is a mean-spirited campaign. Rest assured, though, Americans will reject the baying strong man who denies the legitimacy of their democracy. They will not give up on the principles of what Winston Churchill called "the Great Republic."
Americans may be uneasy today but they are not despondent. They have no inferiority complex like Argentina. They do not feel diminished like Austria. There is no danger here of a contagion of modesty.
Americans don't need our love. They know they're great. That's just who they are. They're proud, strong and unsinkable. They're incredible. Believe me.