A recent survey by the Pew Research Center revealed striking differences in Americans’ and Canadians’ attitudes toward their political, economic and health systems. The Pew survey of 17 advanced countries showed the U.S. consistently among the most dissatisfied and Canada among the least.
For instance, a full 85 percent of Americans feel their political system needs major changes or be completely reformed. Only a minority (47 per cent) of Canadians express similar views. While two-thirds of Americans feel their economic system needs a major overhaul, fewer than half of Canadians feel that way about theirs. And in health care, three-quarter of Americans want major changes compared to fewer than half of Canadians.
The attitudes extend to how well the two groups feel their democracy is working. Canadians appear to be quite satisfied, with a ratio of satisfied to dissatisfied of two to one. Americans on the other hand are among the least content, with a solid 58 percent expressing dissatisfaction.
The Pew survey shows over half of American citizens want major changes or complete reform to their political, economic and health care systems. Up here, on the other hand, desire for reform is comparatively low.
Observing the American political system in action in recent years, the dissatisfaction is not surprising. A system suffering from embedded weaknesses in the constitution has been aggravated lately by a severe dose of Trumpism, for which as yet there seems no cure.
The country is seriously divided, locked into an increasingly uncompromising two-party system. If the Americans had a greater selection of parties, they could do what we have just done and force parties to co-operate in order to govern.
American dissatisfaction with their economic system isn’t surprising either given that it is by far the most inequitable of the advanced countries. Perhaps if President Biden can ever introduce his reforms he can reduce that inequity and ease the dissatisfaction. That is if he can get past the diehards in his own party.
As to Americans dissatisfaction with their health care system, what is there to say? It too is the most inequitable among the advanced countries. And the most expensive. It’s almost designed for dissatisfaction.
Observing the malaise of our southern neighbour is disturbing—living next door to a restless elephant is not comforting. We are not immune from whatever this dissatisfaction leads to.