I distinctly remember four years ago. The seemingly impossible was going to happen. The United States was about to get a President who wasn’t a politician. At the time, it seemed almost like a joke. My friend Cyndie had introduced a new word to my vocabulary “misogynist”.
We were planning for the 2016 Bring IT, Together conference and had gathered in Harry’s hotel room to get together as a group and watch the results.
I think back and forth today and can’t help but remark how, as Canadians, we are so interested in American politics. We couldn’t have predicted accurately the events of the next four years.
- the rise of “Fake News” and talk news television with such a division developing between the left and right
- the focus on building and replacing a border wall between the United States and Mexico and the comments about the need for it
- the separation of children from their parents and the media coverage of that, yes, including the cages
- strange political meetings between Canada and the United States – what happened to the longest friendliest border in the world?
- the slapping on of tariffs on Canadian products because apparently we had been taking advantage of the United States for years
- a new version of NAFTA to govern a previous agreement between three supposed friends
- countries that had been enemies of each other are now friends and friends were now less friendly
- the rise in the nastiness in social media and an increased tendency to shoot from the hip making it acceptable for all, including now Canadian politics
- the rise of a global pandemic and the fallout from that, including ignoring the advice from scientists
Personally, I’ve been able to maintain connections with friends to the south via electronics. Travel over the Ambassador Bridge has been halted for months and, with the fear of the spread of the virus, there really isn’t anywhere desireable to go anyway.
Living in the media shadow of the United States hasn’t been pleasant. Yes, there are times when the Canadian channels rebroadcast American content and override American commercials but there are still shows that don’t fall into that category. As such, we get to see the real nastiness in political advertisements. They seem to have sunk to a new low.
It seems to me that American voters have the opportunity more than ever to choose between two very distinct types of politics this time around. Yes, there has always been a choice but never before has it been so visible.
As voters head into the polls to vote, I hope that they are feeling the real pressure that their vote will determine the direction for the next four years. Are they ready for more of the same with a possible escalation? Or, are they ready for a return to a kinder, gentler world?
I have no doubt that a “winner” will not be declared this evening. I’ve already looked ahead at the television guide. It’s wall to wall coverage of what results are available. I’ll be watching and hoping for a better world.