home Commentary, North America, Politics What it feels like to be a Canadian living in The United States when Donald Trump is elected president

What it feels like to be a Canadian living in The United States when Donald Trump is elected president

Well for starters, it’s annoying that the most obnoxious kind of Canadian has been validated by Trump winning this election. I’m talking about those that at the first mention of The US, immediately puff up with false superiority and start pointing out all of America’s worst qualities. Popular talking points are obesity, racism, war mongering, homophobia, health care, right wing zealotism, guns, and of course lately Donald Trump.

But that’s never been the America I’ve known. I’ve always really liked America. I’ve always found its people smart, warm, funny, tolerant, and genuine. It’s got some weird problems, but for the most part Canada has the same ones. We still have obesity, shitty schools and bigots and we have to wait 6 months to get an MRI.

Today part of me is tempted to think “Maybe those people are right though, maybe America just showed it’s true colo(u)rs?” Have I been behind a smoke screen of progressive people? I HAVE been in New York after all… Did I over-estimate the United States?

Nah.

America, like Canada, has a lot of work to do. Things weren’t going to magically get better overnight. Even with our shiny new “progressive” Prime Minister, Canada still sells missiles to a country that cuts people’s heads off for being gay, and we aren’t any closer to fixing our environmental dumpster fires.

So when people half-seriously ask me “Are you gonna move back to Canada, now that Trump’s president?” my answer is “No.”

Canadians don’t hide from evil, we kick its ass.

So I’ll stay right here, and if I see someone scared, or hungry, or being victimized by emboldened white supremacy, I will do my best to comfort that person. I will give them a sandwich. I will speak up for them. I’ve done it. I’ll continue to do it.

Years before I ever lived in The States an American friend told me: “Kellen, what you have to understand is that America is a nation of badasses. We learn about the O.K. Corral in elementary school.” I think in a way it’s that “badass” streak that led America to elect Donald Trump as their president — but I also think it’s one of America’s best qualities.

To an outsider, it’s the best and worst thing about this country. The US has an unrivaled spirit of entrepreneurship, liberty, and valor, and you guys don’t know the meaning of “dialing it back.”
But greed, xenophobia and fear are threaded into the fabric of your country as well… and last night that was the side of you that Canadians like me saw.

America prides itself on individualism. The American dream is that each person has the ability to enact powerful change in his or her own world. It’s not great that you elected a reality tv star endorsed by the KKK to the highest office your country has, but it doesn’t have to matter as much if good people stick to their guns and defend their values in their everyday lives.

I know this won’t be a popular thing to say right now—but I think that even Americans who voted for Donald Trump are probably mostly good people. I think they are frustrated people, and maybe misguided people, but I think they are good people. America is still good.

When I mentioned that Canadians don’t run from evil, and that we kick its ass instead, what I didn’t mention is that’s also an American value. So I’ll be staying here. Wherever I happen to be in the world I hope it will matter more to me how vigilant I am in my own conduct than who the elected official is. I know this is how my American friends and family feel as well, and I trust them to continue to do the right things.

“Glory to the shining remover of darkness. Nothing’s gonna change my world.”
— Famous Communist, John Lennon

This piece originally appeared on Medium, and has been reprinted with permission. 

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons