Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of the Canadian Union

When Americans want to know the direction their country is taking they watch their President's State of the Union address. When Canadians want to know the direction their country is taking they should look at how many of them watched that same address.

Last night when Barack Obama spoke to Americans, Canadians listened. They did not listen because they thought Obama was speaking to them, they listened because the most powerful man on earth was merely speaking. Yet for all of his nation's material strength, be it economic enormity, military might, or social media success, the greatest American strength, the most powerful weapon the United States wields is our interest in it.

Interest in American politics breeds familiarity, not just with its structure but with the reasoning behind it. And with that understanding, Canadian values are altered. Ideas of democracy shift from parliamentary to presidential, Canadian to American.

To look at the future direction of Canada, one just needs to look at the interest Canadians have in American affairs today. The stronger the interest, the more likely an elected Senate will be implemented, fixed election dates proposed, coalitions banned, the multi-party system weakened, and the principle of responsible government eroded.

Many Canadians watched the State of the Union because of interest in American politics, interest only because America is powerful and yet its most powerful influence is us watching it.

2 comments:

Anthony said...

I would daresay that the largest single element responsible for deconstructing the distinctions between the U.S. and Canada is commodification. Most of us (Americans and Canadians) eat at McDonald's and shop at Wal-mart. We drive Fords, Hondas, etc. and vacation to Niagara Falls or Las Vegas. As children, we all pined for Star Wars figures or Barbies. In short, commodification is responsible for creating ubiquitous cultures linked by brand awareness.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Anthony, I agree advertising is an overwelming factor in the homoginizing of cultures. It is interesting to consider though McDonalds and Wal-Mart introduced innovation to their respective fields which led them to gain market share, and perhaps that same innovation is at least part of the reason why they became so pervasive in Canada as well.

It is also interesting to think about the values Canadians and American already shared before McDonalds dominated, as clearly we all had an untapped desire for fast albeit lower quality food.

There's no denying however that American ideas and values are spread through their institutions, corporations, and other entities, and modern advertising is certainly one of them.