Talking U.S. Politics and Mythical Beasts: The Canada Letter

An enthusiastic crowd showed up at the National Gallery of Canada for a sold-out New York Times event this week in which Julie Hirschfeld Davis, a White House correspondent, joined Jonathan Martin and Astead Herndon, two of our political correspondents, to talk with me about the state of American politics.

The midterm elections in the United States may shift power.

The midterm elections in the United States have unusual importance for Canada. Congress will have the final say on whatever President Trump proposes to do with the North American Free Trade Agreement.

(As is customary with trade talks, Mr. Trump’s deadline for Canada to accept a deal proved to not actually be final and the talks continue. We’re updating our Canada page with the latest from Washington.)

My thanks to everyone who attended the Times’s event, and my apologies to the many who didn’t get to ask a question before the clock ran out.

Next week’s Canada Letter will include a link to a video of the full event. Here’s a glimpse, edited for clarity and brevity:

How do Americans feel about President Trump’s attacks on Canada?

Julie: The fact that the president is targeting the prime minister and targeting Canada as a country is really sort of the distillation of how he is different from any president we’ve ever seen.

Some people really regard it as dangerous because if you think of Canada as somehow antithetical to what’s going on in the U.S., you’re basically jettisoning a lot of history and a lot of common experience and a lot of common values — decades of a relationship that has been pretty foundational.

Jonathan: When he is thinking about Canada, Trump doesn’t have in mind this centuries-long relationship, the blood that American and Canadian soldiers have shed in so many wars. He’s thinking about how can our country get ahead, how can we beat the other guy. And the other guy in this case just happens to be our closest friend and ally as well as neighbor.

What’s the overall mood in American politics right now?

Astead: Polarized. We are at a moment in which I think both sides have rarely been further away from each other.

Another takeaway is that real cultural clashes are happening. The game of politics is no longer existing outside of things like culture or outside of the questions of who we are as Americans. Now it’s really baked in there. You have a president who just likes talking about domestic policy and also weighs in on the cultural event of the day. Whether it is what N.F.L. players are doing on the field or whether it is what the latest celebrity said at the Oscars.

Jonathan: Tribal….

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.