The onslaught of political news for the pending U.S. election shows up abroad too. The world is curious – who will lead America for the next 4 years? Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?
Upon moving to Canada in 1999, I seldom heard Canadians speak highly of President Bush. The more frequent comment was disbelief he got elected – and then re-elected.
Oh, absolutely, some Canadians liked Bush. But it was pretty unpopular to admit that very minority viewpoint.
Heading into the ’08 election, I was surprised how many Canadians told me – flat out told me – there is far too much racial prejudice ingrained in U.S. culture for Obama (or any person of color) to be elected president. Maybe that step would come, down the road. But not now, not yet.
For what it’s worth, I heard that most from older Canadians, the over-50 crowd. Younger Canadians seemed pretty caught up in the excitement of new possibilities in that regard.
Leaving aside the question of was Obama the better candidate, or if he has been a good president, I must say it gave me considerable pride to see that my fellow Americans were indeed ready to move beyond old limits – and prove so many naysayers wrong.
Post-Obama there was even a bit of soul searching in Canada along those lines: where are the Canadian Obamas? Could an Obama succeed to that degree in Canada, or is Canadian political culture still too homogeneous?
And now comes the 2012 election – which Canada watches with bemused curiosity.
The spectrum of main political parties in Canada ranges from what the U.S. would call Socialist (NDP) to Democrat (Liberals) and Republican (Conservatives).
But even Canada’s Conservative Party – now firmly in control – backs single-payer health care, won’t re-enter the abortion debate and stands behind same-sex marriage, which became legal across Canada in 2005. (The Conservative Party would, however, like to see the Keystone pipeline project get completed, ASAP.)
Anyway, here’s a column in which the Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson asks: Is there a Canadian case for Mitt Romney as president? Ibbitson says it has the look of a tough sell.
The Republican candidate is wildly unpopular in this country. A poll last May showed that only 9 per cent of Canadians would vote for him, if they could. Fully 65 per cent said they would vote for President Barack Obama.
On the other hand, Ibbitson says Romney knows Canada (parts of it, anyway) quite well. Romeny has a number of qualities and positions that could favor Canadian interests. Even after listing those, though, Ibbitson still doubts the average Canadian would favor his candidacy.
It is true that Canadian politics is polarizing between left and right. It is also true that even most conservative Canadians are appalled at what the Republican Party has become under the baleful influence of the Tea Party.
Obviously, voters in national elections should elect the candidate they like best to run their own country. So in that respect, Canadians rate little more than interested party/observer status.
But Canada is watching – and does care. Because what happens in the U.S. doesn’t just stay in the U.S.
All comments are welcome but in this instance I’m especially curious to hear from Canadians: what are you seeing or thinking while watching this election churn toward decision day?