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.