Despite what I accept in moments of weakness is the importance to Canada of the US presidential elections, like many Canadians I am getting more than a little bored by the incessant and microscopic analysis of the campaign. Most of the world recognizes that the US has an inflated sense of self-worth. The preoccupation with the minutiae of each step and misstep of the candidates and with the sometimes mind-numbing policy disputes just confirms for some of us that the nation suffers from a not-yet-pathological case of narcissism.
So, it is good to be reminded that whether we like it or not what happens in the US profoundly adjusts the texture and substance of our world. The latest of issue of Hill & Knowlton's online magazine Ampersand (disclosure . . . I am an executive with the consultancy) does just this. Three short related pieces from Canada, Europe and China answer the question Does the US Election Matter? Here is a directional excerpt from each:
Gordon Ritchie, chair of public affairs, H&K Canada and one of the principal architects of the Canada-US free trade agreement, on the posturing of the candidates on dumping NAFTA:
"The fundamental reality is that, even before NAFTA, the United States benefited enormously from its free trade arrangement with Canada. Americans would have nothing to gain and much to lose from putting the agreement at risk for short-term political gain. That would be stupid and none of the candidates is that."
Philippe Blanchard, head of public affairs for H&K EU on the downside of protectionism:
"With the emerging markets pressuring European industry, protectionist views may resonate in the coming years, and a modest uptick in US protectionism would provide just the political cover many EU politicians would like to support their own protectionist tendencies. Furthermore, Europe’s leadership on environmental issues will accommodate itself to a US president who favors the inclusion of environmental concerns in trade agreements."
James B. Heimowitz, president & CEO, H&K North Asia, with a remark that sheds some light on the Chinese reaction to protests over the Olympics:
"Beijing does not want the outside world involved in its domestic affairs. This simple sentence synthesizes so much. Its primary objective for the US Election is to see politicians who will respect this."
I guess some degree of national narcissism in the US is to be expected!