Canada, fondly known as America’s hat and largest trading partner, is terrified of the outcome of this week's US election.
For evidence, look no further than this strongly worded editorial from the Globe and Mail newspaper, with the not-so-subtle headline, "Dear America: Please don’t vote for Donald Trump."
The writers describe the Canadian mystification with how a bombastic reality TV star went from surreal campaign sideshow to the presidential candidate of a major party, and their deep anxiety about what happens next:
This U.S. election, unlike any since the Second World War, is white knuckle time for the rest of the world. Foreign governments don’t want to interfere in your democracy, so they can’t say what they really think about Trump. But we can. We’re terrified.
We can’t believe that given a choice between one mildly flawed candidate and another peddling an explosive combo of bad ideas, no ideas and zero self-control, you’re having trouble choosing.
Does the entire planet feel this way? No. If you want to cheer up Vladimir Putin, or bring a smile to the faces of the hard men who rule China, then by all means, pull the lever for Trump. But the rest of us, your friends and allies in the free world, are pushing the panic button.
(The letter also includes typically Canadian niceties, such as "Nobody has to make you ‘Great Again.’ You’re already great," echoing that viral Canadian-borne social media campaign "Tell America It’s Great.")
Another Canadian writer, Stephen Marche, expressed his inability to laugh at America any longer after the 20-month tragedy that has been this presidential campaign, and his wonder about how the US will rebound:
The spectacle of the U.S. election has been like watching a lush friend at a bar who drinks until she throws up on the bartender, and then apologizes and then does the same thing the next night, and the next, and the night after that. It has been like watching a buddy jump from the top of a building on a dare and hit the side and the awning and then the ground. It will be a hell of a story, if the guy lives. If.
But this election has evoked more than just fear and terror for Canadians. It’s also raised a sense of déjà vu. Remember when Canada’s largest city, Toronto, repeatedly voted into city council that crack-smoking mayor, the late Rob Ford? Known as "the Canadian Trump," Ford blamed homosexuals for the rise of AIDS, dispensed nasty slurs about a number of ethnic groups and women’s genitalia, and recovered, time and again, from these embarrassing outbursts.
With the US election, though, the stakes are much, much higher, as the Toronto Star’s Edward Keenan points out:
While there was genuine personal pain and sadness in Ford’s story, and his politics had serious consequences for many people in Toronto, he was ultimately just the mayor of a city — and a city where the mayor wields little unilateral power, at that.
A US president, on the other hand, has access to the nuclear codes. Canadians, like the rest of the world, have the right to be anxious.