Thursday, August 12, 2010

An Open Letter To America

Hello, citizens of the excellent country to the south! As a member of the Great White North (you remember us: that country above you, often times referred to jokingly as "America's hat"), I just feel like I need to write you a little letter. Between you and I, I don't mind the jokes you make at our expense, since we Canadians tend to have a bit of an inferiority complex and we certainly enjoy a little self-deprecating humour now and then, I must admit I am starting to worry about you, our bigger, more independent brother.

Our countries both grew up out of the British Commonwealth, but we obtained our freedom in different ways. As the older brother, you got into a big argument with our former parents, and stormed out angrily after bloodying the British empire with a blow to the nose. In a huff, you struck off under your own power to find your way in the world.

As the goody-two shoes smaller brother (ever the favorite), we remember the way you left, but we could never bring ourselves to lash out so angrily against our parents, even though sometimes we wanted to. Therefore, we stayed with the Brits, and slowly, eventually moved out of the British home. Sure, we've got a close relationship with them, Mom (the Queen) drops in to check on us once in a while, and sometimes they'll drop off some used submarines for us to use, but we like to think of ourselves as fully independent now

Anyways, I've been keeping an eye on the political atmosphere within your borders for the past few years. Indeed, it's near impossible to avoid seeing what goes on in the USA, as awash in American media as we are up here. What I have witnessed happening down there makes me fear for both our countries.

I feel like I'm watching your political process completely break down. There now seems to be three political parties in the United States: extreme right-wing (Republicans), center-right (Democrats), and completely oblivious (the vast majority of voters).

The Republicans recently oversaw what could quite possibly be the worst decade in American History, squandering the good American name around the world, starting two unnecessary wars, and throwing the entire economy of the planet into turmoil. Now that they are out of power, it seems the only activity that they're interested in is doing anything to make the new American government fail, no matter how that affects the county they claim to love and care for. From the outside, it looks like they've been taken over by an American version of the Taliban, which completely throws off the balance of power in your great country.

The Democrats are still struggling to deal with the fallout of thirty years of Republican policies. Unfortunately, they seem to be attempting to counteract those policies by adopting Republican policies from twenty years ago (which, ironically enough, the current Republican party refers to as "socialism"!). The supposed American "left wing" seems to be more worried about placating the people who are showing up to rallies holding racist signs and carrying automatic weapons than leading America out of one of its darkest decades. The Republicans are fond of arguing that one shouldn't "negotiate with terrorists", yet the Democrats continually seem to be always attempting to build bridges with the extremist American political party that doesn't seem to care about the health of the USA right now.

Your scariest political "party" are definitely the Completely Oblivious types. The political environment has gotten so extremist and obstructionist that it has forced a small percentage of Americans to become rabid partisans, while causing the remaining, vast majority of citizens to stop caring at all about politics. The Republican partisans are completely unable to deal with reality, the Democratic partisans are pretty much ignored by their own political party, and the remainder of the citizenry are either easily swayed by fear-mongering or are more concerned about stuffing as many calories into their faces as they can while they watch amateur idiots sing or dance on fake reality television shows. Even the impending destruction of the American Dream doesn't seem to be enough to wake them from their stupor!

Top top this all off, you have now seemingly have only two types of news stations: right-wing attack news, and infotainment. Flipping through my American news channels, I have the choice between either wacko wingnut talking points or celebrity scandals. Right-wing news has essentially become an extremist Republican arguing with a slightly less extremist Republican over how to properly demonize the commie/nazi/anti-christ Democrats; mainstream news has become a muddle where two sides of any argument are presented with zero fact-checking or followup questions so as to avoid accusations of "bias"; and left-wing news has become no more than a couple of half-hour shows on public television channels that nobody watches. Where the hell has that hard-hitting American news that debated the issues, presented the facts, and held politicians' feet to the fire gone? It's almost like George W. Bush sent all of your investigative reporters to Guantanamo Bay, and Obama can't figure out whether to let them out or send them to be tortured to death in a Syrian prison!

Anyways, I know that some of this rant has been harsh - there's more than a small amount of demagoguery present in it, some points in it might be incorrect, and I've definitely been guilty of slinging a number of insults about, but I only said all this because I care about you, America. The main reason I care is, as the "little brother" in our relationship, I'm starting to notice some of your dysfunctions surfacing north of the border we share with you, and I'm worried that if America destroys itself from within, Canada might just follow your example.

Please step back from the abyss, America. The world needs you to be healthy and whole, and, even if we don't always get along with you, we do love you. Thanks for listening.

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