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I'm Canadian, and I Love America

by Lewis Krell

Despite what you may have read in numerous publications, the United States of America is still, at the moment, the world’s only super power. Despite the economic woes, the United States still makes up 22% of the global GDP (which is over three times the size of China’s) while housing fewer than 5% of the world’s population. The United States military is undoubtedly the world’s most powerful and technologically advanced; in 2010, the United States military budget was bigger than the total budgets of the next 14 largest militaries in the world combined (coming in at an astronomical $700 billion).

 There is no shortage of things that America is #1 in the world at, such as the number one producer of natural gas, electrical energy, nuclear energy, sulfur, phosphates, salt and corn, for example. America produces more scientific research papers than any country. America was the place where both of Kate Upton’s breasts developed. America has the highest percentage of people who own automobiles. The two most recognizable brands in the world are both American companies, Coca-Cola and McDonalds. America is the #1 importer of goods on Earth. Depending on what rankings you believe, either 13 or 15 of the top-20 universities in the world are here. Of the top-30 busiest airports in the world, 16 are located in the US. The Dream Team in 1992 was really fucking good. Chipotle was created here. You get the point.

The reason I bring all these points up is because I, as a Canadian living in the United States, am constantly bombarded with the question from both my Canadian and American friends; “why did you choose to live in the US?” Inevitably the follow up question will be, “what do you like so much about the US?”. The answer is of course a long and complex one, but I thought I should attempt to put out a few of the things I love about America , and outside of Kate Upton and Chipotle it involves not one of the things mentioned in the opening paragraph.

I should set the record straight by saying that I am an extremely proud Canadian and I always will be. There is a strong probability I will one day end up settling in Canada. I have a Canadian flag waving proudly above my bed and I draped myself in it and ran down the streets of San Francisco leaping for joy when Canada won the gold medal in hockey in 2010. I’m not sure I have a single non-climate related negative thing to say about Canada.

I think I could write an excellent thesis on the subtle differences between Americans and Canadians. For instance, my fellow Canadians, I urge you all to throw the word Garborator into a sentence when speaking with an American and watch the reaction. They will think you just came from another planet. Despite my affinity for my motherland, I don’t currently live there and the following is a small sample of the reasons why.

It’s exceptional. Seriously. I love American exceptionalism. One of my favorite things about this country is that virtually every person here truly believes that they live in the greatest country that has ever existed in the history of mankind. You could ask the most hard-core Tea Party member or the most outspoken person at Occupy Wall Street and both of them will bitch for hours on end about what’s wrong with America but neither of them would ever choose to live anywhere else. In 2004 when Bush got re-elected I had just moved to the US and I remember hearing people say things about how if he won they would move to Canada. I have heard this sentiment a lot of times about a lot of issues; if Prop 8 passes I’m moving to Canada, If Palin is the Vice-President I’m moving to Canada, so on and so forth.

You know how many people follow through with this promise? None. Zero. Not one ever. No one will leave America ever unless there is an actual military draft or imminent nuclear war. Or maybe if the entire NFL relocates to Europe. People may love to complain about certain aspects of this place but they all realize how great it is to live where you are free to make those complaints but still live in the pre-eminent world power. Some people may not think that Americans believing they live in the greatest country in the history of civilization is a good thing, but I for one happen to think it’s pretty cool. To see such patriotism expressed via millions of different methods is pretty inspiring and makes this resident alien proud to live here.

If you have travelled extensively then there is a good chance you have heard some variation of the following joke…

What are you called if you speak three languages? Trilingual.

What are you called if you speak two languages? Bilingual.

What are you called if you speak one language? A fucking American.

It is a shame that Americans do not feel the urge to travel the world and explore like most other people on Earth (don’t believe me? Go to a hostel almost anywhere in the world and you will find 25 Canadians, Australians, Israelis, Swedes etc. to every one American) but it took me a while to understand that this lack of international exploration stems from more than just a belief in Americans exceptionalism. America has, far and away, the most impressive and unique cities worth seeing that all lie within one country.

No country has even close to the world-class, and worth seeing, amount of cities that the US offers. New York is nothing like Miami but both are worth experiencing. Seattle is nothing like Los Angeles, New Orleans is nothing like San Francisco, Boston is nothing like Las Vegas and yet all of these cities and many, many more are absolutely worth going to. When you have an abundance of wonderful destinations within your own country, it makes a lot more sense why you don’t have the urge to leave. I didn’t even mention the naturally occurring wonders like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park or Kate Upton.

If you have a fixed travel budget like most people do, isn’t it kind of wonderful that you can see a ridiculously vast amount of unique places all while not having to get a passport, change currencies, or worry if the place you’re visiting will have working toilets? Canada is great but can you make the realistic argument that there are more than a handful of cities that a person MUST see? And if you are looking for varying climates, well then you certainly need to head south of Canada. When your most desirable warm-weather destination, (Victoria, BC) has a December average temperature of 7 degrees Celsius, and an overall daily average temperature of 13 degrees, then your weather sucks.

American exceptionalism and the sheer number of world-class cities and destinations as reasons to love America might not have surprised you. The third point I’m going to make might shock you. America has the best food in the world if you like diversity in your food choices. Europeans love to bitch about American cuisine but this is also a comically misplaced argument. First off, if you don’t like steak and ribs than I hate you. But more importantly, America has an unbelievable amount of the SECOND-best version of many different ethnic foods.

This is not a scientific fact of course, but I think an argument could be made that the second-best Chinese food, the second-best Italian food, the second-best Mexican food, the second-best Thai food and many other of the second-best versions of many other ethnic cuisines can be found in the United States. If I can’t have the best then I may as well have the next best. In a lot of countries, they focus so much on what they do well that you can’t find a variety of options that are all great.

In most of America’s largest cities I can go out and eat Indian food made by a couple that recently came from India, or sushi from a chef who is actually Japanese. This sounds like a dumb argument but it is incredibly rare. Even in Canada it is damn near impossible to find good Mexican food and a burrito-free country is not a place I can live in right now.

Can you believe I just made a full post of why America kicks ass and I didn’t even once mention hot dog eating contest? Or how absurdly entertaining politics in this country are? Or the glorious tribalism of college sports? Or how there are enough spare fighter jets and pilots that they use them to fly over stadiums for no reason? How about capitalism? Or fireworks? Or the Imperial system? Or Rocky beating Drago? Or the fact that the “Simpsons,” “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Arrested Development,” “South Park,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and 99% of all brilliantly funny shows ever made came from America? Or relatively unimportant things like freedom of religion, association and press? Yes, this country has a lot to be proud of, indeed.

Now that this Canadian has outlined a few of the reasons why it’s so great to live here, I will freely admit that neither country is perfect and both still have some major issues to work out. In the US, the lack of moderation, rationality, and bipartisanship in politics is slowly tearing this country apart. In Canada, this is happening.

I hope this article helped the appalled Canadians I left behind understand why a proud Canuck like me would leave. In closing, God Bless Canada, God Bless the United States of America, and if any readers out there know anyone who works for the US Border Services, please forward this article to them so they can give me a fucking green card.

Image courtesy of The Social Newspaper

 

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Lewis Krell is a Canadian expat and Inclusive staff writer. His work with a more maple leaf-styled slant can be found at Fifty Mission Cap. Contact him at lewis.krell [at] theinclusive.net