It is not uncommon to hear newscasters throughout the U.S. talk on how America is perceived in the Islamic or Eastern World. But what about closer to home? What do America’s neighbors think?
I can speak on behalf of an entire nation when I say that we look upon Americans as lost souls bought by the highest dollar with morals lasting only as long as personal gain is in the picture.
The country to which I will soapbox is Canada. The neighbor to the north. Where U.S. new broadcasts rarely touch on Canadian issues or politics, our stations are rife with U.S. stories, foreign policies, military movements and statistical references. On any given night the 22 minutes allotted to the news might be equaled in minutes given to both sides of the 49th Parallel.
The reason for the attention is that America is so fascinating. Their movies, their styles, their trends, their politics. All have equal fascination outside their borders.
But we also look upon your stories with a shaking of an unapproving head. We marvel at the power of your government but wonder aloud why it continues to spin its wheels in a puddle or mud and shit.
Particularly, we don’t understand the politics. Sure, we understand the parties – Republican, Democrat, Independent – and have a better than casual understanding of their respective messages. But we can’t get our heads around how a government continually lets down its people without internal revolt.
The latest example of dysfunction was evident this week with a bill to fight human trafficking. No sane mind would condone human trafficking and any attempts to assist in matters that deter the practice would be applauded and supported. Or at least that’s what we thought.
In February, a bill to help victims of human trafficking was picking up the necessary awareness. Both the Republicans and the Democrats were seemingly on board in what looked to be a slam dunk in the Senate. By March, the Victims of Trafficking Act was approved by a Senate Committee which carried a $5,000 penalty on people convicted of a trafficking or sexual abuse had both sides in quiet applause.
Then came the politicking. There was clause in the bill that wouldn’t allow the victim to use any of the penalty money to be used towards an abortion other than in cases of rape or if the mother’s life was in danger. The Democrats requested the provision be removed from the Republican Drafted Act. The Republicans refused to edit the original text.
Thus started the jabs. Republican’s claimed that the Democrats knew the wording of the Act while they were pushing it for acceptance and claim that their now dissatisfaction is just showboating. The party campaign committee accused Democrats of “playing political games with women and children who have been victimized by human traffickers.” Democrats argued that the Act was perpetrating a ‘war on women’.
The fight has now ceased (at least for the moment) any advancement of the initiative and Republican Sen. Susan Collins summed it up when she commented “If we cannot approve a bill to deal with human trafficking then what will we be able to deal with?”
Canadians, and arguably the rest of the world, look to America for leadership. We take our cues from laws and initiatives brought forth by the most powerful nation in the world. Or at least we did. Our faith in the American political system has reached an all-time low. We no longer understand it, and more importantly, we no longer respect it.