Young Canadians: American politics affect you too

Why we should care about the U.S. presidential election and make our voices heard

Whoever the new president will be, their actions will impact Canadian and global ways of life, Myriam-Morênikê Djossou argues.
Whoever the new president will be, their actions will impact Canadian and global ways of life, Myriam-Morênikê Djossou argues.

Even if the words “politics” and “elections” usually tune you out of a conversation, chances are that you’ve still noticed that American elections have begun. 

Let’s be honest: the current election looks more like a reality show than a race to choose one of the most powerful human beings on the planet. 

But despite the way it looks, the outcome of the 2016 presidential elections, whether positive or negative, will unavoidably influence us as Canadians. 

However, we need to acknowledge that we have the ability to influence this outcome as well. This is why it’s about time we move beyond the sensationalism of Donald Trump and start paying attention to the true issues at stake.

The United States and Canada are connected to each other, much more than just physically. Economically, environmentally, culturally, the list goes on — the United States can’t go without us and we depend on them even more. 

Think of the impacts of the Keystone Pipeline, or the influx of American tourists we can expect as our dollar continues its fall. As well, in terms of security, Canada and the rest of the world are often subjected to the consequences of decisions made south of the border. 

In lecture a few weeks ago, my professor asked us to think about how the world might have been different had Al Gore been elected instead of Bush in 2000. 

It’s reasonable to assume that the aftermath of 9/11 would have been different. Perhaps the war in Iraq would have been avoided, or at least wouldn’t have led to its current consequences, including the insurgence of the Islamic State we currently face. 

I have and will always refuse to fall into the fear campaigns right-wing politicians oh so love to use, but this doesn’t make me naïve either. 

After the attacks on France, Australia, Nigeria, Lebanon, Parliament Hill in Canada, and Burkina Faso — the latter also took six Canadian lives — few countries on the planet, if any, can claim to be free from any terrorist threat. 

American leaders may not have provoked these threats directly, but they’ve contributed to the global relations that gave rise to them.

The decisions American leaders have made in the last decade have dramatically shaped how individual Americans are treated abroad. As Canadians, often mistaken for Americans, this has affected us too.

Considering that the decisions a powerful country’s leader makes in a crisis seriously impact the stability of the planet, we better hope that the next American president will have a minimum level of intelligence and will think through decisions carefully. 

Now, maybe you thought that last sentence was a subtle reference to Donald Trump’s lack of logical claims, and perhaps it was, but ask yourself: why couldn’t it refer to any other candidate? 

Because the truth is, many other White House aspirants made their fair share of scary remarks. Nonetheless, it seems that all of the speeches made, along with all the positive ones, have been swept away by the tidal wave that is Trump. 

Since he announced candidacy for the Republican primaries, a day hasn’t passed without something relating to Donald Trump showing up in my Facebook newsfeed. 

Of course, it’s usually accompanied by disapproving comments, but it’s still attention given to him and that’s all he needs. Trump’s views are probably no different than they were just a year ago, yet they’re far more dangerous simply due to how they’re now spreading. 

This man makes it acceptable to express out loud the racist, xenophobic and inaccurate beliefs people used to keep deep down, ultimately making them seem more plausible to more people. And the more we talk about Trump, the more he seems like a viable candidate for American presidency.

This is where we, as Canadians, and especially as young Canadians, have the power to influence the outcome: social media is a borderless and powerful means of communication. 

Instead of involuntarily helping Trump, or any undesirable candidate, by constantly discussing them on Facebook or Twitter, it’s time to pay less attention to candidates we don’t want to see win and talk more about those we like, so that American voters might do the same. 

I have very little faith that any broadcast media station, rich multinational company or even many Americans will, but let us, as Canadians, take the lead and  try to make America great again.

Myriam-Morênikê is a second-year psychology and political studies medial.

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