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October 30, 2014
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Romney Sucks and Living With Your Parents is Lame
Why "better safe than sorry" just doesn't do it for us

The Romney clan all living under Mitt’s roofs

What’s going on people?

This week, two stories trickled down through the Canadian alt-media-verse that, taken together, painted a disappointing picture of the Canadian youth movement’s psyche at this particular moment in time. (Obviously, making blanket statements about “the Canadian youth movement” based on two articles is overstating the case, but “overstating the case” is one of the main tenets of online journalism.) VICE Canada published a condescending post-election finger-wagging entitled Romney Would Have Been Better For Canada. Meanwhile, Toronto’s slickest alt-weekly The Grid put a lengthy justification for living with your parents called Living Large (With Mom and Dad) on the cover. Despite being mostly well written and not laughably indefensible, the underlying philosophy of these pieces just makes me smh.

I understand the impetus to publish contrarian viewpoints like these. The editorial meeting goes something like this:

Writer: So [Romney/living at home] is pretty stupid, eh? Maybe we should do something about that?

Editor: Not controversial enough. Needs to be a link-bait-ier.

Writer: What if we argued that [Mitt/Mom and Dad’s house] is actually good?

Editor: Brilliant! Think of the rage clicks!!!

*Entire publication drowns in web traffic. Publisher chokes on advertising bucks*

So, I’m not upset that these stories were published. I do not begrudge these two fabulous publications their clicks. In fact I’m glad that they have put these ideas out in the open so we can discuss them rationally. The crux of both arguments goes something like this: β€œIt might not be cool but it just makes more fiscal sense.” To put it bluntly, fuck that.

Both of you are so totally wrong. Not specifically, but in general.

Let’s talk Romney. Wolfgang Jagoff (if that is his real name) rolls out a list of petty complaints that supposedly proves Obama’s hate-on for Canada: protectionist Buy American policies, $5.50 entry fee at the border, the timing of the Keystone XL approval (he admits that Obama will probably approve the pipeline eventually but Romney will do it a little bit sooner), whiny baby stuff. The US Government is desperate for revenue and local economic stimulus after years of tax cuts and bad policy. And while it may be true that these particular policies may not be good for the Canadian economy in the short term, Obama’s win will be “less damaging to the U.S. economy than a Romney victory might have been,” according to Scotiabank chief economist Derek Holt, a view shared generally by Canadian economists. At the end of the day Canada will be better off if the US is better off.

Furthermore a Romney win would have vindicated the Republican party’s yahoos, to borrow Andrew Coyne’s phrase. Does Canada really want our best friend and ally to be run by bigoted old farts? And look at the Israel-Iran issue. Jagoff casually drops that Romney “has a total boner for war with Iran.” I’m starting to think this is some kind of high parody. How does this not completely override any shitty little cross border trade issue? Having Obama at the helm is the world’s best chance of avoiding a nasty war in the middle east (and beyond?) into which Canada’s unapologetically pro-Israel Prime Minister would undoubtedly send our troops.

As for living at home with your parents, I don’t have as good an argument against this idea in general. I sympathize with graduates struggling to find a job while handling student debt. I moved back home for a year and half after I graduated to get my shit together. I also appreciate the cultural differences – it is not uncommon for Asian families to live with multiple generations under one roof. (Read Toronto Standard contributor Jamie Woo’s piece from May, In Defense of Living At Home). And finding a good apartment in the city is hard, though not impossible. But the author – desperately hoping to fend off criticisms like mine by admitting off the top that “living with your parents is not cool” – chose to focus on young people with jobs who choose to stay home and save money and to this I say, “C’mon!”

Living on your own or with roommates is an incredible learning experience that I wouldn’t trade for any comforts of home. Shopping and cooking for yourself, paying your own bills, cleaning and maintaining your own space, even decorating — in my view, these experiences are more rewarding than any savings you might accrue while sleeping under mom and dad’s roof. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is the only way I learned how to budget properly. Not having any money made me realize that there was a lot of stuff that I didn’t need, and I learned what it is that I really value. I salute anyone who stays at home to care for a needy relative or what have you. But if you’re in the basement clinging to your “own bathroom and a sweet-ass leather couch,” I urge you to move out on your own because it will be the greatest adventure of your life.

I reacted strongly to these stories because they highlighted what, in my view, is a disappointing attitude I’ve noticed in some aspects of Canadian society that’s infecting a new generation: Better safe than sorry, don’t rock the boat, let’s wait and see. It’s boring, small minded and driven by stifling risk aversion. These are not new ideas or critiques of Canadian or Torontonian values. In fact, I think these are great values for, say, a bank. But I guess I just hope that traditionally progressive publications like The Grid and VICE continue to aspire to something more daring and aim to push boundaries instead of settling for mediocrity or nit-picking small details.

Then again, maybe some people would just rather curl up with mom and dad and watch the bombs drop on the premium cable channels. I don’t know. Who cares. Do whatever you want.


Michael Kolberg is The Sprawl Editor at Toronto Standard. Follow him on Twitter for jokes @mikeykolberg

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