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U.S. Political Bitterness Not The Reality in Canadian Society

Tired of the bitterness and rancor of U.S. politics? Wouldn't it be nice if Americans weren't subjected to the nauseating likes of Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Eric Cantor, Fox News, or John Boehner on a daily/weekly basis?

There's an escape from this poisonous political environment, and believe it or not, it's right next door. It's called Canada, a place where political venom and poisonous polls are much harder to find. It's one of the things about Canada most Americans don't know that I alluded to in a recent and much-commented-about HuffPo piece here.

Many of us hopeful Americans thought that with Barack Obama's 2008 election, the American political system could be saved, or that it would become a lot more progressive. We were far too optimistic. The U.S. President has been swimming in a cesspool the last six years, trying to keep his head above water in a swampland of corruption, unbridled greed and careerism, and ill-disguised racism.

It's not at all like this in Canada, which I visit all the time on business and to see family that's relocated there. But most Americans don't know this.

Such bitter, contentious issues like guns, same-sex marriage, health care, overwhelming lobbyist influence and corruption, immigration and upkeep and expansion of infrastructure are, by and large, settled issues in Canada. The cloud of bitterness that looms over the U.S. political system is not to be found in our upstairs neighbors' home and native land. Canada has moved on, and so should the U.S.

And no, I am not painting an overly rosy picture of the Canadian political system, which does have its problems. Just nothing as cancerous as the heavily gerrymandered U.S. system, which, thanks to widespread corruption, political careerism, and ideological extremism, is rotting from the inside and is today barely functional.

I know whereof I speak. I've seen this depressing political landscape before.

Back in 1970...

In 1970 my wife and I moved to Canada -- not, like most Americans, to escape the draft, but because I spoke French and loved Montreal's cosmopolitan life. Plus, the political situation then was about as bitter in the U.S. as it is today. Young people were being called "bums" by U.S. President Nixon -- and worse by Vice-President Spiro Agnew.

The ongoing Vietnam War had caused deep divisions in American society, much of it generational. To some older Americans, anyone with long hair was a hippie, druggie, or degenerate. You may remember. It wasn't a pleasant time to be in the U.S.

That all changed overnight once we arrived in Canada. Gone was the political bitterness and divisiveness. You could go into a bar in Montreal and old and young people were schmoozing. Plus, drug laws in Montreal were not such a big deal and were more casually enforced, thereby reducing another deep generational divide.

This newsman for the Montreal Gazette soon made it a point of avoiding watching U.S. TV news. Who needed the pointless aggravation?

It's like that in Canada today. Canada's government and press are more concerned with scandal than with political points and partisan rancor. The bitterness is just not there, and Ive watched plenty of Canadian TV news and read many Canadian papers in my job of covering Canada for and other American news outlets.

The biggest Canadian political story of the year -- unless you count Toronto's clown -like mayor Rob Ford allegedly smoking crack -- was when a close aide of Prime Minister Harper wrote a check to a friend in the Canadian Senate who needed the money for personal expenses. Nothing earth-shaking.

The ineffectual Canadian Senate is another case in point. Comparing it to the U.S. Senate is like comparing tomato juice to hemlock. No self-promoting right-wing wack jobs like Marco Rubio, Graham, or Rand Paul in the Canadian Senate.

Plus, Canada's federal elections are strictly limited in length and last roughly 5 percent as long as ours here in the U.S., blessedly. The last one was certainly not bitter by American standards. Not even close. In fact, many of Conservative Harper's followers genuinely liked his closest opponent, the socialist NDP leader Jack Layton, who was dying of cancer and hobbled about on a cane, the epitome of the Happy Warrior.

So, I'm thrilled that my son is raising his kids outside the politically poisonous and deeply divided U..S. And away from America's ubiquitous handguns and frequent school shootings.

In Canada, most problems actually get fixed. Problems like maintaining and building bridges, roads, and tunnels.

Just living in a place where your kids won't some day have to take jobs they hate simply so they can get medical coverage, as millions of Americans have done for years, is encouraging, too.

(Stephen Colbert, in a typically insightful recent bit, ironically advised conservatives deeply opposed to Obamacare to move to Canada -- which, um, has had national health care for over 50 years.).

Canada has a far more civil way to govern, and because of it, it's a far more civil place to live. Cooperation usually trumps conflict.

Some fellow Democrats might have been well advised, paradoxically, to move to Canada after Obama's re-election -- because of the racism, obstructionism, bitterness and intransigence that resulted from the classy Obama's win.

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