Midway through his final year in office, President Obama's approval ratings have skyrocketed. As Americans steel themselves for a possible — though increasingly unlikely — Trump presidency, and as the Obama administration trudges on with its progressive agenda with little time left, the president is now more beloved by a majority of Americans than ever.
But judging from the Canadian Parliament's elated reception of Obama on Wednesday, it seems that his favorability at home is perhaps only eclipsed by his favorability among Canada's lawmakers.
Obama was in town for a conference — dubbed "The Three Amigos Summit" by local media — with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. And by the end of his Wednesday speech, some of Canada's most powerful people burst out into a chant: "Four more years! Four more years!"
(American presidents, of course, can only serve two four-year terms in office, and Obama's nearing the end of his second.)
In his address, Obama hailed the "extraordinary alliance and deep friendship" between the U.S. and Canada, and had some of Canada's most powerful people laughing with and cheering for him throughout. Seriously — an excerpt from his speech's transcript reads like this:
So Canada was the very first country that I visited as President. It was in February. (Laughter.) It was colder. (Laughter.) I was younger. (Laughter.) Michelle now refers to my hair as the Great White North. (Laughter.) And on that visit, I strolled around the ByWard Market, tried a "beaver tail" — (laughter) — which is better than it sounds. (Laughter.)
In light of the Brexit vote and a tumultuous U.S. presidential election, Obama made a push for globalization and economic equality. (Though he was careful to note how the former can benefit the latter in what seemed like a soft swipe at Bernie Sanders' platform that many young progressives have taken up.)
Obama also talked frankly about how challenging democracies can be:
I think we can all agree that our democracies are far from perfect. They can be messy, and they can be slow, and they can leave all sides of a debate unsatisfied. ... But more than any other system of government, democracy allows our most precious rights to find their fullest expression, enabling us, through the hard, painstaking work of citizenship, to continually make our countries better. To solve new challenges. To right past wrongs. Democracy is not easy. It's hard. Living up to our ideals can be difficult even in the best of times. And it can be harder when the future seems uncertain, or when, in response to legitimate fears and frustrations, there are those who offer a politics of "us" versus "them," a politics that scapegoats others — the immigrant, the refugee, someone who seems different than us...
But despite the challenges, he said, it's our universal values, our shared goals that hold us together. That help all of us work across borders towards a common good.