Canadian politicians aren’t used to receiving from Americans the star treatment that Justin Trudeau is getting during his Washington visit. Trudeau has been profiled on 60 Minutes and countless other outlets, while a photo of him hugging two pandas has gone viral.
Canadians are long familiar with the phenomenon of Trudueamania, which first flourished in the 1960s when Justin’s father Pierre Elliott Trudeau was elected prime minister and brought a new glamor to Canadian politics. Yet 1960s Trudeaumania was strictly a Canadian affair. Pierre Trudeau’s opposition to the Vietnam War made him unwelcome in Richard Nixon’s Washington.
The current incarnation of Trudeaumania has spread to America in large part because of the sorry state of American politics. In the age of Trump, Justin Trudeau stands as a sharp contrast to what Americans fear is happening to their country: Trudeau is young, charismatic, a social liberal, and assertively cosmopolitan. One of his first acts as prime minister last year was to welcome Syrian refugees into Canada. In the Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor described Trudeau as “the anti-Trump.” Given the flurry of interest in Trudeau, it looks like there is an appetite in America for a strong alternative to Trumpism.