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Because it’s 2016

The 2016 US election cycle has been the longest, nastiest and most expensive in US history. When the dust settles late tonight or early tomorrow, our neighbours to the south will have a new President-elect. But here’s the rub: regardless of who it is, a substantial portion of the US electorate and their elected officials won’t be happy. The vitriol spewed by both sides of the campaign these past two years is merely echoing the deeply-held sentiments of a populace that feels under-represented and ill-served by those in power, and those with power. And that’s not going to dissipate any time soon.

I am a dual citizen. I was born in Montreal and will always bleed maple, but I love my adopted country as well; the US of A. For all its flaws, its unique form of democracy has always been a role model for the rest of the world. Until recently. The past four years have seen unprecedented levels of self-serving agendas, bureaucratic stagnation and political brinksmanship from both sides that have rendered the whole system a dysfunctional mess. The post-election honeymoon typically enjoyed by a new administration won’t happen. In what should be a time of healing, reconciliation and renewed commitments to collaboration, we are destined to get more of the same.

To be sure, the discourse and media coverage will take a slightly different slant depending on who gets in, and what party wins the Senate and the House, but it isn’t going to be pretty either way. With few exceptions, the entire US media has a natural bias one way or the other. And no one is going to let this go. And that, I believe, presents Canada with a unique opportunity to lead. As First Lady Michelle Obama said so often and so eloquently these past few months: “When they go low, We go high.” And let’s face it. The bar is pretty low at this point; it’s time to act.  

As we Canadians love to say, we are all Americans. Our next door neighbor, closest ally and largest trading partner is hurting. It’s payback time folks, and this time it’s our turn to help. Shaking our heads in disgust, disbelief and anguish won’t solve anything. The US – all 335 million strong – could use a little more Canada right now, so let’s bring it on. Because we can. Because it’s 2016.

I’d love to hear your take on this. Feel free to reach out to me at rmurray@national.ca or on +1 416 938 1931.

 @rickmurray