American politics should matter to Canadians

Exploring the media’s infatuation with the United States

Image by: Ashley Chen

American politics are a train wreck, but Canadians need to watch. 

Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau once described relations with the United States as being like sleeping with an elephant: “no matter how friendly and even-tempered the beast is, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

In many ways, this perfectly summarizes life neighbouring the US. As a country, it’s consistently divisive and no stranger to political, social, and economic disagreements, both internally and worldwide. Canadians should care about American politics because like it or not, their business affects our business. Unfortunately, their drama is part of the equation. 

Being neighbours, Canada and the US trade everything from steel to tourists. A positive relationship between the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the United States has always been necessary, but not always a reality. 

Consider the most recent G7 summit held in La Malbaie, Quebec. President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the future of relations between their respective countries. After the summit, Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, defending his actions as “a matter of national security.” Trudeau retaliated by threatening to impose his own tariffs if the US followed through, as expected. President Trump ultimately took 

to Twitter, labelling Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest.”

No matter how rude the President may be, Canada relies on the US for trade. According to the Office of the US Trade Rep. 2018 Report, Canada was the United States’ third largest supplier of goods imports in 2018. With heavy supply chains going both ways, the US arguably acts as Canada’s most valuable trade partner. President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs directly affects revenue, jobs, and the economy. 

The upcoming Presidential election could be problematic for Canada. President Trump has taken the last few weeks to vehemently condemn mail-in ballots. If Republicans ultimately find a way to delay the election outcome, Trump could monopolize this uncertainty into a prolonged stay in power, an outcome that must be prepared for by World leaders. Even if a Joe Biden win banishes Trump to the history books, the election winner will undeniably influence the world economy. 

Furthermore, being a world superpower means the US has dozens of news outlets, TV channels, and newspapers reporting on its affairs. Its media presence is simply more global than our own. Every Trump quote and blunder is seen on news stations everywhere from South Korea to Mexico. The unavoidable nature of American politics allows its influence to extend beyond economics. 

In many ways, American politics inadvertently force Canadians to analyze their own values. Each controversial headline offers Canadians an opportunity to think, but little opportunity to reprimand the wrongs of their imposing ally. Relevant American politics remain inseparable from the US’ daily stream of controversy. 

The domineering example set by the US is powerful, yet often negative. In Canada, American precedent for handling social issues continually dominates our conversations. Despite being much less controversial, Canadians are consistently caught up in the American strife  over the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-mask protests, and 

Trump himself. 

Canadians should care what happens south of the border; doing so is easier when we recognize American politics as being a double-edged sword. For every economic boon, there’s a disastrous Presidential Debate. While it may be rational concerns that draw Canadians into American politics, their ridiculousness ultimately keeps our attention. 

In the end, Canadians must draw the line between fixation and repulsion. 

Dante Caloia is a second-year Arts & Science student.


American politics

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