The U.S. has been a beacon for millions of people, but I’m probably the only person who’s ever wanted to head there because of Republican presidential debates.
Yes, America’s Grand Old Party is calling and I’m starting to listen.
Now before you have me maple-syruped and feathered, let me be clear: I love Canada. Anne Murray’s as sexy as ever, peameal bacon wrapped in dulse and washed down with Clamato still hits the spot, and hearing the opening strains of “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK” always brings a tear to the eye.
It’s just that I find the Republicans — and the heartland that supports them — deeply alluring because, well, because they seem kind of nuts. It’s a way-out foreign culture, every bit as exotic as those far-flung reaches of the globe I clamour to visit.
Canadians have a tendency to think of our southern neighbours as merely heavier, prouder, louder versions of ourselves — sort of Canucks dialed up to 11. But the Republican presidential debates remind me how wrong that is.
Usually, American TV misleads us, since it’s made by liberal places that most urban Canadians find easy to swallow, like New York and Hollywood.
Watching the American TV programs I did growing up, I believed that any young American tadpole (The Muppet Show) can admit to being gay (Ellen) but continue movin’ on up (The Jeffersons) until he can afford a New York loft apartment that would cost more than the Iraq invasion (Friends).
On most American TV, the U.S. seems like Canada with better temperatures and thinner people.
But the Republican debates show me a culture so different I barely comprehend it. People applaud the mention of the death penalty. Nobody seems to know what taxes are for. Rick Santorum is seen as a normal person.
This is a place I want to learn about. If this were any other continent, I’d be deeply interested. I’d want to understand.
So though my gut reaction is to roll my eyes or worse, I instead want to learn the ways of this bizarre culture.
I want to see heartland America — more Jerry Falwell, less Jerry Seinfeld. More Bible Belt, which holds up the britches of the nation. Less San Francisco, where pants are optional.
This will require research, so I plan to watch a lot of bad television, eat free-range beef and drink beer, as befits my current, close-minded understanding of heartland America.
Come to think of it, I’ve been researching to be an American all my life.
I’m gonna melt right in.