Canada’s fresh-faced, Kennedy-esque new leader arrives in Washington on Thursday for his first official visit since beating an American-style, wedge-politics incumbent back home in October.
Given the current ugly state of American politics, where bladder control, sexual potency and perspiration have become legitimate items of campaign discourse, our goal for Justin Trudeau’s visit should be clear.
We need to persuade him to run for president of the United States.
This won’t be an easy sell, especially since a Trudeau presidential run would face some constitutional challenges, not the least of which is his birthplace – Canada. But this hasn’t stopped Ted Cruz, so before you reject a Trudeau candidacy out of hand, let’s look at the possibilities.
Trudeau is a young, good-looking Gen-Xer who overcame a dissolute bar-bouncer past to shape up into a first-rate vote getter in his landslide victory for his Liberal Party. His campaign emphasized – wait for it – fair and open government and rejected negative advertising!
Since taking office Trudeau has continued his un-American style of politicking. Where American pols are shunning Muslims in general and Syrian refugees in particular, Trudeau personally greeted the first of 25,000 Canada will welcome when they landed in Toronto.
Where less-educated white Americans are dying in record numbers, even as GOP politicians rail against Obamacare, Canadians of all stripes are living longer than ever with that single-payer health care system of theirs, which Trudeau has pledged to expand.
Where some American politicians remain in climate-change denial, Trudeau has committed Canada to a carbon-tax and a positive role on the world climate stage.
Trudeau even has a lot in common with recent occupants of the Oval Office.
Like the Bushes and (they wish!) the Clintons, he continues a political dynasty. In his case, his father was Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the flashy and charismatic prime minister until 1984.
Like John F. Kennedy, Trudeau is in his early 40s and has a Jackie Kennedy-esque attractive and accomplished wife.
Like Barack Obama, Trudeau came from behind to beat a conservative opponent who called him inexperienced and unprepared for the top job.
Beyond these personal attributes, several other practical details make a Canadian a logical choice for our leader. In recent months, for example, nearly half the oil we had to import came from north of the border, an addiction that would be worrisome if it were any country other than Canada.
Canada has also been our largest trading partner for decades and remains the largest single foreign purchaser of U.S. goods.
The 5,525-mile border we share is the longest in the world, and except for Wisconsin governor and former presidential candidate Scott Walker, no one is suggesting we build a wall along it.
In short, we are already highly interdependent and likely to get more so in the future. Having someone at the top who knows how both halves fit only makes sense.
And as Trudeau said on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Americans are electing the most powerful leader in the world. It would be nice if that leader actually knew something about that world.
Unfortunately, the Constitution aside, Trudeau would be a fool to run for our top job. For one thing, even if he started right away, what remains of the U.S. presidential campaign season is still three times longer than his entire campaign for prime minister. Putting up with Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades for eight more months would make a Canadian winter look downright tolerable.
If Trudeau decides not to run for the White House, perhaps the solution is for Americans to follow him back to Canada. Google searches for “moving to Canada” reportedly spiked after the Super Tuesday primaries, which suggests more than a few Yanks are considering this option.
They may want to check first to see if Canadians would want them, though. Accepting Syrian refugees is one thing. But tolerating people who would even consider voting for some of current candidates for president might be over the top.
Stephen R. Kelly is a former American diplomat in Canada who teaches at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.