Does proximity affect politics?

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A redraw of the “They’re the same picture.” meme. The top section is a person’s hands holding up a Canadian flag and a Star Spangled Banner flag. The bottom section is a drawing of the original meme character saying, “They’re the same politics.”
The American Empire’s ideology spreads dangerously fast within Canada. Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

Not saying it’s certain to, but also not saying it can’t

Someone once said the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) are two countries divided by a common language. At one level, this is about the minor differences in the syntax, semantics, and grammar of the English language as used by the two nations.  

But there are other levels to this statement, those that would interpret language to mean all forms of expression: cultural, political, and social. In this other sense, the statement is likely also true for the US and Canada. At least, it used to be. 

Both the US and Canada used to be colonies of the British Empire, and, as such, have the same pattern of early settlement. 

Where their paths diverged is on the way to independence. The US, starting as the 13 American colonies, felt the taxation policies of the Empire were too oppressive. Perhaps more relevant, they felt there was little representation for them in the decision process.  

This led to the American Revolution. It is not an exaggeration to say that this narrative of the struggle for their independence means that, to this day, Americans are often staunchly against taxation, “big government,” and almost obsessive about the rights of the individual. 

Canada, on the other hand, remained loyal during the revolution, and subsequently acted as a strategic zone and eventually an ally for the UK, after finally attaining Confederation in 1867.  

In some ways, this meant Canada has had a more pleasant relationship with the UK, evidenced by the sovereign state of Canada choosing to have the monarchy of the UK as its own head of state. It can be added here that this fact seems to gravely bother many Americans, who do not seem to understand the concept of “consent of the governed.”  

Despite the different “origin stories” and ongoing differences in attitude towards governance, social policies, and accepted opinions, it is hard to miss the potential for overlap in our political landscapes.  

Both nations are seeing a rise in populism and increased social divisions, leading to groups of individuals with strong opinions who are closed-minded and unwilling to listen to ideas that challenge their own understanding of a situation. 

This was probably most visible during the pandemic years, with the anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine rhetoric starting from the US and being imported to Canada via American news and social media. While other parts of the world also succumbed to those attitudes, an argument can be made that they were first, and most successfully, imported to Canada.  

Since the pandemic years, these overlaps have progressed steadily and are today most visible in how national attitudes about issues like immigration, gun control, reproductive rights, and the environment are shifting. 

The potential causes, and effects, of this convergence are worthy of extensive research. It makes sense that two nations that are close physically, with a lot of the same challenges, have begun to form very similar attitudes about them.  

There is hope in the Westminster-style government of Canada that makes it almost impossible for a rabble-rouser to rise to the position of top executive out of the blue. There are also substantial differences in the Overton window between the two nations. A wider spectrum of opinions leaves room for legal means of expression, which is always desired.  

However, it is important to notice, and accept, that social and political belief systems are colliding. Social inequity, problems from their lack of adequate gun control, and a general undercurrent of far-right perspectives have been on the rise in the US for decades now, and Canada needs to avoid a political contagion that will lead to an authoritarian race (otherwise known as a dictatorship). 

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