If Trump was Canadian you’d joke about human extinction, too

American Underpants, illustration by Nigel Hood

American Underpants | by Anna Minard

Greetings, Canada! I come in peace. No, really — all of us, we’re all coming up there in peace, any minute now. I mean, have you seen what America is up to lately? You may as well start making room for 70–80 million of us on the, uh… dogsleds? Moose? (Meese?)

My humblest apologies; I have an American public-school education.

I am here on your maple-leaf pages (your newspapers are printed right on maple leaves, yes?) to give you an on-the-ground view of what, as the internet joke goes, is thankfully the last American presidential election ever.

HA! You see? The jokes that are getting us through this election season hinge on the utter destruction of our democracy. That’s how hilarious this all is. (That’s not the bleakest one, either. One of the most popular bumper stickers I see around town supports the candidacy of “Giant Meteor 2016.” Campaign slogan: “Just end it already.”)

All the darkness has crippled our ability to tell what’s actually funny, like when we couldn’t help collectively enjoying public activist-art statues of a naked Trump with a distended belly, tiny penis, and no balls. It took most people a full day to realize that perhaps mocking and desexualizing someone’s body in the public square is not exactly the height of progressive political thought.

When we’re not only-sorta-jokingly advocating for our own destruction just to escape the pain, we’re reminiscing about the “good old days” of regular, mild dog-whistle racism in politics. Once, we could really discuss the subtext of a candidate’s comments about welfare reform or America’s “Anglo-Saxon heritage.” These days, a Hillary Clinton campaign ad just opens with footage of an Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, in full white robe and hat, endorsing Donald Trump. (In the same interview, given earlier this year to a reporter in Virginia, that Wizard said he could never support Ted Cruz for president. Why? “Even if I agree with some of the things that Ted Cruz says, I would not support him because he was born in Canada.” You’re welcome.)

And while regular Americans are stuck in this awful place where it’s hard not to laugh, but every laugh is followed by a wince, the news media is struggling to catch its breath. Surely, if the usual rules don’t apply to the candidates (usual rules like “you’ll be driven from the presidential race if you kick off your campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists, or if you say on TV that you’d commit war crimes as president, or at the very least if you repeatedly disrespect the family of a dead American soldier”), then gee, how can they apply to the media? The normal conventions are breaking down. TV news has begun running snarky, annotated on-screen news tickers when Trump and his campaign are speaking, e.g., “TRUMP: I NEVER SAID JAPAN SHOULD HAVE NUKES” (HE DID) and “TRUMP CALLS OBAMA FOUNDER OF ISIS” (HE’S NOT).

Reporters’ neutral faces seem to be barely hiding one long grimace.

But as the New York Times recently reminded us, there’s only so much time left of all this — actually, around 11 weeks, they noted, which is apparently the entire length of the longest-ever Canadian election season. They quote a nice lady from Toronto, regarding last year’s “excruciating” 11-week election season, who says it was “frustrating as a Canadian to watch time being wasted” on such a lengthy election.

May I just say, as an American, “Hahahahahahahahahaha [sound of me slumping over on the desk].”

I hope, in the coming million-year-long weeks, to offer you at least a little insight into our complete pantsing of democracy, and also any good-hearted attempts to restore its dignity.

In the meantime, please keep sending us adorable shirtless photos of your prime minister. They really do help.

Anna Minard is a Seattle-based writer (for now). Follow her on Twitter: @minardanna.