Turns out Donald Trump’s supporters would make lousy neighbours

Illustration by Nigel Hood

American Underwear | by Anna Minard

Hello, my Canadian friends! It is I, your American, here once again to hold your hand through these late days of our terrifying election. (Am I comforting you or are you comforting me? I think it’s the latter, and thank you.)

What has happened since our last chat? Surprisingly little.

Perhaps something like this has happened to you: you go see a movie that has been designed by brilliant movie scientists to continually shock you in new and exciting ways. With each new fright, your body fills itself with another cold gush of adrenaline, and as you reach ever-higher levels of terror, you begin to marvel at your ability to feel that much alarm, as if the experience is actually carving new notches onto the volume knob of your animal anxiety. It’s impressive what symphonies our brain chemicals are capable of, given the right stimuli.

But then at some point, you simply max out on adrenaline production. Onscreen, something — or someone — explodes, and your brain sends out a signal for that sweet, metallic fear juice, and… nothing. No gush. Sure, you’re still freaked out, but you simply cannot get more scared. There are no more levels. You have cranked it to 11 and the knob broke right off.

This is when you start laughing maniacally and maybe yell “BRING IT ON!” at the screen.

The election narrative seems to have hit that point. For a little while, it’s almost felt normal, and not because Donald Trump stopped saying bizarre things and signaling that his presidency would potentially bring on the apocalypse. There are just no more fear levels.

And while we all deserve a moment to laugh maniacally and/or yell “BRING IT ON!” at the whole sorry picture, there’s danger in the plateau. Because this is real life, not a scary movie, and our numbness won’t do anything to make things better.

What could make things better? Other than time-traveling right past Election Day, I have no idea. The brokenness of this election cycle has caused me to spend a lot of time contemplating what it means that, given how people on different sides talk about the candidates and issues, we’re essentially experiencing completely different realities.

This was brought into sharper focus when Trump himself came to town, or at least a town kind of nearby. I couldn’t get there in time, so like a true American, I outsourced, asking a friend who was already at the stadium to ask Trump supporters about Canada. And how would Trump supporters explain their candidate to Canadians? Here are some real answers: “Benghazi.” “He gives you straight talk.” “I got three things for you: national security, economy, and gun rights.” “Why would I care what Canada thinks?” “I think people are just tired of being tolerant anymore.”

When pressed to go deeper, people just seemed tired. Over and over, they said they were “done.” Done with immigrants, done with politicians, done with not putting “Americans first.” They said Hillary Clinton was a delusional nutcase who got people killed and did something with e-mails that would send any average citizen to jail. They liked the idea of someone who’s “not a politician.” Most people, when asked, also supported building a wall on the Canadian border — perhaps just out of fairness. “If Donald Trump gets elected, you’d think if he’s gonna do one side, he should probably do the other,” said the man who said he didn’t care what Canada thinks.

So, what do you do in times like these? Try to find common ground? Or just find a protester outside the rally and ask what message they have for Canada? That’s what we did, and a protester named Dwayne, after calling Trump a “virulent racist who has no policy points at all,” had a very important message of solidarity and love from America to you:

“I’m really sorry about the Tragically Hip. Gord Downie? It broke my heart!”

Additional reporting by Bernard Rodriguez. Anna Minard is a Seattle-based writer who’s cranked up to 11. Follow her on Twitter: @minardanna.