For those that do not know, I am a Canadian citizen. I am also an American citizen. It took me eight years to achieve this dual citizenship, and some money and some time spent being fingerprinted and interviewed. Heck, I even had to marry an American citizen to get citizenship. Actually that is such an ironic joke, because if I had not fallen in love with this California man and moved to California in order to be with him, I would have never even entertained a thought of becoming an American citizen. We have all heard of cases where someone wants to be an American citizen and get the ‘green card’ so badly that they find an American to marry. I think there are a few movies and novels about this exact topic. Well, that was not my case at all. I quite liked being a mono (as opposed to dual) citizen of Canada. I know that some people who immigrate to the USA come from war-torn, politically-unstable, poverty-stricken countries. Not me. Canada is a GREAT country. Instead I moved for love. Okay, make that love with a capital L. Love Love Love. To see what I mean, look at the photo below!
|Our two countries' flags tattooed above his heart. Surprise Christmas gift. (double-click for detail)|
A lot of folks figured that I would have no difficulty making the transition to American culture. As I heard over and over, “There isn’t really much difference between Canadians and Americans anyway.” Fallacy. There are differences. Some of them are bigger than others.
For example, yesterday my husband spent a large part of the day watching the news programs about the “debt ceiling” crisis. Oh, it was exciting to him. The last minute deals, the predictions of the political guests, the assumptions of the news announcers and finally the address by POTUS. (It took me awhile to figure that one out. POTUS stands for President of the United States.) To my husband and millions of other American citizens, this was nail-biting television. To me, it was rather ‘ho-hum’. What difference did it make if anyone watched the minutiae of the day’s activities? In the end, the results would be the same, right?
I don’t understand American politics. I also don't know much about Canadian politics. I never paid much attention to politics when I lived in Canada, and I honestly thought I was doing well when I remembered which party our Prime Minister represented. (Oh, yes, there is no President in Canada, did I mention that?) I truly thought I was a middle-of–the-road, middle-of-the-line, mainstream voter. Are you getting my feeling of mediocrity here? No one I knew belonged to a ‘party’. The NDP, Conservatives or Liberals or whatever they called themselves must have had members but I did not know any card-toting, dues-paying members. I never knew who my friends and family voted for in Canada. I did not even know how my parents voted (swear to God, cross my heart). It seemed that in my part of Canada, politics was never discussed in the personal sense. Oh, one could say that the Prime Minister screwed up, or that the NDP were getting stronger or the Senators were useless old farts occupying lifetime seats and getting big pensions but no one ever said who or which party they voted for. I actually thought it was against the law to tell how you voted (swear to God, cross my heart) when I was a kid. As I got older, those same lessons were reinforced time and time again. As an adult, I knew it was not against the law to say how you voted but God forbid you asked someone. We, my friends and family, discussed politics mostly by complaining about whichever party was in power and whining about laws and policies we did not like. We did not publicly or privately claim membership in any party.
Now fast forward to life in California where one of the major cultural differences between Canada and the USA became apparent immediately. Politics. Donkeys and elephants. Republicans and Democrats. My husband is a card-carrying Republican. He believes in ‘small government, individual freedom, less social services, and ‘might is right’.” He also believes that the US is the referee of the world and sees its involvement in all the civil wars, border wars, and assorted wars around the world almost like the USA is Superman appearing in the nick of time to save the world. After telling you all that, I must tell you that my husband is a nice guy. Maybe he is one of the nicest guys you might ever meet (I am always being told that by people who meet him.), and yet he is a public member of a political party. He is ‘registered’ for heaven’s sakes. Not only has he admitted who and which party he votes for, he has admitted this in public.
This knowledge presents troubles for me on many levels. The shock and horror of publicly declaring ones' allegiance is trumped only by the fact that he is a Republican, a member of the GOP (another tough one for a Canadian girl, it means “Grand Old Party”, which is presumptuous beyond belief ). After studying the popular political parties here, Republicans and Democrats and trying to figure out where I fit in, I gave up. When I became an American citizen and it was time to register to vote, the form asked me to select the party I belonged to. I refused and selected ‘no party’. In my husband’s eyes, I am a rebel for doing that. In Canada, if faced with the same choice, I would have been a rebel for choosing a party.
My husband soon helped me figure out which party in the US I leaned towards. It is probably summed up best in the nickname he first gave me in the midst of a political discussion (argument?). He called me his “socialist-pinko- commie-canuck” with great affection. He continues to use this nickname during political discussions, and after some initial mild irritation, I have come to regard this as a term of endearment. I have tried to educate him (and a few others) that socialism and communism are NOT the same but it falls on deaf ears. I guess I am a closet Democrat. There I said it publicly. I will also say publicly that I think universal health care is awesome, and Tommy Douglas will be my hero forever for getting Canada to utilize that. I am also proud to say that I come from the place in North America with the first democratically elected socialist government. Saskatchewan truly was and is a land of pioneers. Even with that information proudly and publicly shared, I am not telling you how I voted in Canada!
We get along fine in our house!!