Culture, Government, Media, Politics

A Note To My Canadian Friends

Leading up to the final election results today I have received a pretty consistent flow of commentary through social media and the occasional conversation that suggested perhaps we have all gone nuts in the land of milk and honey.

Since this morning, I have been presented with sound bites of disdain, disgust, and some pithy, intellectual thoughts about the decline and moral decay of America.

The latest was a clipping from the New Yorker “An American Tragedy” with my friend’s comment, “A sad day…”

First of all, let me say, I totally get it.

It is extremely difficult to swallow the language, the rude, boorish nature of the President-elect. But before we blame the winner, we need to ask why such a perceived lout could still mop up the electoral college with such surprise and certainty.

It reminds me of a story the late Art Buchwald told a gathering of we Canadian direct marketers back in the ’80s. This was a luncheon of about 200 business folks at the Boulevard Club alongside Lake Ontario in Toronto.

Buchwald, columnist from the Washington Post, was introduced after lunch to give a few comments. Like a good speaker, he started with a story. Buchwald was about 70 years old at the time and had a dry, gravelly voice that tumbled words out of a mouth you’d swear was filled with marbles.

He was recounting his conversation with the cabbie who drove him downtown from the airport. “I said to the driver, ‘I love coming here. The people are nice. The streets are clean. The architecture is superb. What a wonderful city!’ The driver looked in the rear-view mirror and said, ‘You wouldn’t say that if you lived here.’ ”

The punch line drew lots of laughs predictably.

But you can say the same thing about the view from inside the U.S. today.

By the way, Garden Collective, a Toronto ad agency put together a wonderful 2- minute piece about, “America You Are Already Great“. Watching it on TV, I was speechless, with a lump in my throat, overwhelmed by the kind and complimentary upbeat tone of the message. It was a warm, nice message.

It reflected well on a population which has elected a young, progressive, educated, well spoken, photogenic and popular leader named Trudeau. We Americans can only be jealous, political ideology aside.

But when the verdict is that today was a “sad day” in the United States, let’s be sure why.

Undoubtedly, the election of a person who may personify “bully”, is hard to stomach. I am sure that the nose plug counter at the voting booths cleared its inventory faster than Cubs shirts in one day.

The question is, how many voting Americans picked the winner because they like mysogyny, crudeness, xenophobic language and gratuitous swagger. Not many, I’ll bet.

The reason they held their nose and checked the box is because it has already been a sad day–sad for many years.

Trump won his votes because of the raw facts: only 62% of the U.S. workforce has a job. 45 million Americans are below the poverty level. 43 million Americans live on food stamps.

There are twice as many tax-payer funded civil servants as there are manufacturing employees.   Our enemies disrespect us, and our allies don’t trust us.

We have a $365 billion trade deficit with China, and a $20 trillion national debt, exacerbated by a limitless annual budget deficit.

The economy has poked along at a 2% growth rate annually, for 8 long years.  We are engaged in a middle-east conflict that seems to have no end, with heavy weights like Russia and China picking a piece of the pie.  The icing on the cake: a $12 billion payment to Iran for a nuclear arms deal.

Today there are 61 million immigrants in the USA, myself included, and approximately 25% of those are here illegally, absorbing their share of welfare, medical, educational and social services.

While the numbers may lead to numbness, they add up to a diminution of happy times.  And they have done so for at least 8 years, perhaps longer.  So for a family which is struggling today, to hear the same promises again from the same mouths as the past, the pot finally boiled over.

We all depend upon the media for our news.  And it is the mass media focused on their one dimensional narratives on Obama, Trump and Clinton that have glossed over the very real problems which exist in the U.S. today, leaving you the viewer to wonder how could Americans could elect such an impossible choice for President?

We have been manipulated by pollsters, pundits and reporters who just didn’t see what was happening at street level.  And then in a moment of surprise that only Wile E. Coyote could express, they ran off the cliff.

So I get your disappointment.

I know you are hurt inside that America voted as it did.  But don’t blame it on the electorate.  The numbers are a record– over 120,000,000 made it to the polls, and split the vote like a giant slab cake right down the middle, with just a few crumbs left over on one side.  But hopefully you won’t call out every other American as the stupid one.

More likely, they are holding their breath, like me, and hoping that this sea change, continental shift, tectonic grinding will really change things, and for the better.

In the mean time, thank you for your goodwill and take advantage of a huge dollar exchange advantage: it is a great time for us to visit Canada.

Thanks for sharing!  And don’t stop coming south, we love to see you.




16 thoughts on “A Note To My Canadian Friends

    • Hi Yvonne! So nice to hear from you! Walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes… and you have another pair of shoes! I just want you to know that I opened up my old MRT files, and found all those great Carlson cards you used to send me. Those are more special than you may know, and I followed your example when I moved to Libertyville. For that, I want to make sure that you read this blog. It’s right up your alley. Hope things are going well!

      Really, thanks!

      All the best, Phil.


  1. Tom Hayes says:

    Hey Phil —

    I see that you are quoting the “labor participation rate” — a little misleading my friend as it includes retirees…..


  2. Robert Churik says:

    Great note here Phil, thanks for sharing.


    Robert C. Churik Senior Sales Representative Catalog/Retail Solutions Group LSC Communications (formerly RR Donnelley) 4101 Winfield Road Warrenville, Illinois 60555 630/322-6887


  3. Grady Hauser says:

    You’ve said it well, Phil—at least those things that we say in polite society. I would add that the pot boiled over due to a few other things: 1. Lois Lerner et al. She is retired with full benefits–and not in prison. 2. The NLRB. Slapped down by the Supreme Court, but still prevented Boeing from building a non-union plant that would have employed thousands. 3. Benghazi. Hillary and our president concoct a whole-cloth lie about a B-level video as the cause for the terrorist attack—all so that Mr. Obama could stay on schedule for a Las Vegas fund raiser and cruise toward the 2012 election. (blood began boiling then) 4. An Eric Holder SWAT Team enters the Gibson guitar factory because they might be using wood from an endangered tree species causing millions in unrecouped legal expenses. 5. The New Black Panthers carry billy clubs in front of a voting location and Eric Holder blesses the event with silence. 6. Neither Mr. Holder nor President Obama can utter the words Islamic Terrorist while Americans are beheaded. 7. Mr. Obama and Ms. Lynch (AG) will not enforce some laws they don’t like, but will make policy and threaten school districts with federal funding unless they comply with cross sex bathroom usage. The 50 million Trump voters have no illusions about the predictability of Mr. Trump, but it was the certain predictability of a Clinton presidency that caused so many to accept the risk.


    *Sales Office:* 5 Lydia Ct Elgin, IL 60124 phone: 847.441.2955 cell: 847.951.4231


    • All true I think Grady, and I take anti-embolism pills myself to settle the froth. The one that really hurt is the Gibson guitar plant raid. I have a Martin, and it smells of the nicest rosewood, but I cannot vouch for its provenance. But it sounds sweet. Thanks for writing Grady!


  4. As ever, Phil, you put things in perspective. I’m not sure the two Americas will ever reconcile, but it’s much better that they are aware of the existence of the other. My mother used to say, “This too will pass”.


    • Like a kidney stone perhaps Peter! But I wait, breath abated. It has been a long year during which I have absorbed a library’s worth of scolding from my friends in the GWN. I remained silent through the whole event, understanding that what the U.S. does is export its trial and tribulations for the world to see and critique. The price of fame? All the best to you and Suzie!


  5. Interesting op-ed, Phil. But I have to respectfully disagree with most of it. I always examine the sources, and the links you provide for your “numbers” all lead to conservative-leaning publications: CNS News, Washington Free Beacon, RT (a non-profit funded by the Russian government), and Center for Immigration Studies (which bills itself as “firepower for the immigration restrictionist movement”). So I question the validity of the statistics and articles. And your “all true” response to Mr. Hauser’s strange rant about Black Panthers, cross sex (sic) bathroom usage, B-level videos, Eric Holder SWAT team, etc. etc. sort of gives up the ghost.

    Since you’re addressing your Canadian friends, I’d like to apologize to them for our disgusting election and its outcome, and instead argue that Mr. Trump’s victory has less to do with your questionable links than it does with a lower-educated white working class in America that relates easily to Trump’s simplistic, anti-intellectual, divisive, and racist rhetoric (and a class that, to be honest, harbors a frighteningly primordial dislike of Hillary). The Republican Party has courted these folks for years, using God and guns as its bait, but these misguided working class stiffs (“the caboose on the train,” as our man Dylan once called them) have benefited not a drop from the GOP’s love affair with supply side economics. They hate liberals, but they’re sick of the GOP rank and file, now, as well. Trump’s semi-fascist, authoritarianism is just what the doctor ordered (and God help America). Here’s another take from another former Canadian… and, by the way, a moderate-conservative:

    Peace…(we need it).


    • Hi Peter!
      I apologize for missing your comment until now. My error. This isn’t an op-ed. I’m not opposing anything.
      My point is that voters voted for Trump because their lot in life ain’t so hot. The numbers , which I do attribute aren’t debatable. What they mean might be debatable.
      My other position is that they didn’t vote for him because they endorse his visible faults. They did however give him a pass on these objectionable traits because of the numbers I quoted earlier.
      Always great to hear from you!


    • Hi Peter: the problem with communicating via smartphone is that you don’t get the whole text at one read. So not only was I late in seeing your reply but I didn’t see all of it either. I stand by my original essay and my first reply. I also enjoyed and agreed with David Brooksarticle. Thanks again.


  6. Hi Phil… no apology needed. Actually, “op-ed” refers to “opposite the editorial page” or “opinion editorial.” It doesn’t mean “opposition.” Your posting was your opinion that Trump was elected based on hard data alone, and not his bigoted and chest-thumping behavior and rhetoric. If this was true, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and the other GOPers would not have been crushed in the primaries like they were. I agree that the white working class has suffered tremendously. But this entire election was based on emotion. I live in a red area of a purple state, and practically every Trump voter I know voted for this turd gleefully, not reluctantly (and many of these people have secure jobs with benefits). You said you agreed with Brooks’ editorial, correct? I quote: “the working-class revolt has been laced with bigotry, anti-Semitism, class hatred, misogyny and authoritarianism that has further rent the American fabric.” Trump’s victory does not bode well for this country.

    As far as your smartphone goes… get rid of it and go back to a cellphone. Smartphones (dumbphones) are one more reason (along with Twitter, 24-hour cable news, Facebook, etc.) as to why we have way too much information, but not enough knowledge. Which gets back to the election.

    Enjoyed the conversation…take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Peter: I believe the reason Trump won the primaries was because he had 16 competitors. He only had to be a little bit faster than everyone else to win, kind of like those two safari hunters who were outrunning the lion. “Hey I don’t have to outrun the lion, I just have to outrun you!”

      After every debate Marco and Ted would claim “70%of the voters don’t like him.”

      BTW you don’t need to apologize to Canada for our election spectacle. For the most part Canadians are earnest in watching American politics like motorists passing a car wreck and thanking their lucky stars.
      That being said, Canada/USA trade volume is the first or second largest of all USA trading partners. China may be the interloper. So what goes on here does affect Canadians’ economic status.
      Thanks for writing, and have a good finale to your Thanksgiving weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You probably know more than I about Canadian-American relations, so you’re probably correct with the car wreck analogy. As far as Trump being “faster” than his primary rivals… they all were lacking in many departments, and their debates were excruciating. I would say Trump’s celebrity and D.C outsider status, as well as his divisive and bloviating rhetoric, played a large part in his primary success (and Americans have always loved a good song and dance man). And Hillary, by rights, should have destroyed him. She apparently was, at least until James Comey and the FBI incited a late burst of “Hillary scare.” I’ve noticed the “lock her up” cries have miraculously diminished, now that the election’s over. And I’ll bet you case of maple syrup that the FBI once again finds nothing… if they’re even still investigating her.


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