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March 2016

Editorial

If Trump Wins, Don’t Leave the US. Instead, Stay and Fight.

March 4, 2016
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Damn. America, tell me something. What the hell is going on?

Although it began as a joke, Donald Trump’s campaign seems to be unstoppable as he crushes the other GOP candidates in the polls and primaries. And now, after Super Tuesday, nobody’s laughing anymore. In fact, some of us may be starting to freak the fuck out. And many of us are planning ways to get the fuck out in the event that Donald J. Trump becomes president.

Google searches for “how to move to Canada” spiked the night of Super Tuesday. Celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg, Miley Cyrus, and Raven Symone have said that they’ll flee if Trump wins. How-to guides for moving abroad to escape the Trump administration are popping up around the internet. People in travel-related Facebook groups start threads about their plan to leave the US for good.

And I get it–I really do. I’m already an expat, so I understand the need or desire to live abroad in general. (Though I moved for personal and financial reasons, not because of any presidential election.) And though I’m many miles away, I’ll always bleed red white and blue. My heart breaks when I think about what’s going on in my country. It says something that I can sit in my apartment in Riyadh, read the news about the election cycle (or just the news in general), and think for a brief moment that maybe Saudi Arabia isn’t so bad.

I also understand that some people, Muslims, black people, Latinos, might feel that an Trump administration would create a level of hostility against minority groups that would make staying in the US unsafe for them. I mean, the US is already pretty unsafe for minority groups. But if the Trump’s campaign theme is normalizing hatred and violence against minorities, a Trump administration could make America look even more like this:

 

And this:

 

And this:

muslim women kicked out of trump rally

 

And this:

 

 

And this:

You get the picture.

Some of us might be able to make a really good case for moving abroad if Trump wins.

But to everyone who swears that they’ll pack their bags and drive over the border next January 20th, I beg you to reconsider. Please, my fellow good-hearted, non-fascist, anti-bigotry, everyday citizens of the United States, don’t leave the country if Trump gets elected. Instead, stay, and in the tradition of our great nation, fight to take it back.

First, let me guilt trip you a little by talking about the amount of privilege someone must have to even joke about deciding to leave if a candidate gets elected. I’m sure many people who are devising their exit strategy have the financial means (a job that can help you save money, no debts, financial help from parents, valuable items to cash in such as a car, access to credit) to plan for a move. Some of you are probably white and/or Christian. Celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg are privileged through wealth and access to a platform.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having privilege. I only bring this up so that those of you who are thinking of leaving could realize how lucky you are. I’m guessing that women, children, and LGBTQ individuals who risk abuse and death on their way by foot from Central America to the US, or families from Syria clinging to rafts hoping to float to Europe, could only hope that leaving their homelands was a choice.

You can leave if you want. But wouldn’t it be better to stay and use your privilege to help your fellow Americans, many of whom cannot leave, get through four years of Trump?

Second, let me appeal to your sense of practicality. Let’s be real: 99% of you ain’t going nowhere by inauguration day. Among the many who promised to flee if Obama got elected, how many of them actually did? Do you personally know someone who left because he got elected? And do you personally know someone who is actually ready to buy their plane ticket ahead of Trump’s swearing in? Most Americans don’t even have passports, and many of us rarely travel outside the country at all. So I doubt that there will be a spike in international one way ticket sales come November.

Now let’s say that you’re in the 1% of people who might actually leave. You can’t just waltz, tango, or nae nae into another country, even if it’s Canada, and just live there. Netflix recently went global (thank goodness), but there are still many other obstacles to moving abroad. First, you need to pick a country. It’s a big world, and there are so many exciting places to choose from, but it’s not an easy decision to make. And you may find yourself deciding to live somewhere you don’t necessarily want to (for example, Saudi Arabia) because it happens to be the most practical choice.  Also, you need to settle things and tie up loose ends at home. Quit your job, sell your car, actually pack up and move, etc.  Most importantly, you need permission to actually live there. That means applying for a job/study program, which could take months, assuming you’d get approved for a visa. (Hopefully you have family members in your host country, perfect health, and/or no criminal record.)

You’d also have to find an apartment, enroll your kids in school, get a residency permit, and possibly learn a new language. Being an expat can be great, but many expats face stress, depression, and loneliness. And the rest of the world isn’t a utopia. There are going to be things you absolutely can’t stand about your host country. Say goodbye to efficiency, organization, and what you know as basic courtesy/manners (depending on where you move. I’m not saying that the rest of the world is completely rude and disorganized, but things are just different in other cultures.) And if you’re a minority in the US, you may be a minority abroad as well. Which means you’ll still meet ignorant people who will treat you like a zoo animal because you’re black, or associate Muslims with terrorism.

Something else to consider: American citizens must still file, and possibly pay taxes when living abroad.  You can’t escape Trump’s IRS. 

As a single, independent, thrill seeking, and indebted 20-something, moving abroad was a no-brainer for me. But for many people, it’s something that requires careful thought and considerate planning. If you’re going to put in the work to move abroad, there should be a better reason than Trump becoming president.

Finally, let me remind you of what is the spirit of America: Resistance. Organizing. Rebellion. Protest.

America is minorities raising a middle finger to a system that seeks to eradicate us. It’s arms linked together in a human chain blocking traffic on a busy highway. It’s milk poured into the eyes of a tear gassed youth in Ferguson.  It’s raised, clenched fists in the air, and chants of “we gon’ be alright.” America is the passionate voices of a human mic in an occupied Zuccotti Park. It’s the muscles and bones that keep a Texas state senator’s legs from faltering for hours as she filibusters for the right to choose. It’s the nerves that steady the hands an onlooker with a cell phone as they film an innocent citizen getting beaten, choked, or shot by police. It’s the fingertips of a young activist who starts a national conversation with a hashtag. America is the arms of children in Flint, strengthened by carrying bottles of water home. It’s the words in a leaked email by a journalist who would rather give up her own cable news show than be a puppet for the corporate media. It’s the light by which a DREAMer fills out her college applications. It’s the silent strength, among thousands of loud, hateful voices, of a woman in a hijab who was kicked out of a Trump rally. America is all of us, together, tirelessly fighting for a more perfect union, no matter what gets in our way.

We Americans, especially minority groups, have endured so much throughout our history. We mustn’t let a fascist and his racist fan base kill our sense of hope. Nor must we allow them to kill the essence of what America stands for.

So I need everyone and their third cousin to vote. But if that doesn’t work and Trump gets elected, I plead with all the decent, tolerant people in the US to stay put, and brace yourselves for a tough four years. While it’s still legal, protest the hell out of everything the Trump administration does. Be an ally to those who are being targeted by bigotry fueled by his rhetoric. Use old and new media platforms to expose and criticize Trump’s policies. And for the love of democracy, vote in the goddamn midterms, please. As Americans, we’re incredibly lucky to have the freedom to stand up to power. It would be such a terrible waste of these rights, as well as a slap in the face to both our predecessors and future generations, if we all just up and left.
Even if he becomes president, America will never belong to Trump. It will always be by the people, for the people. It will always be ours. But only if we choose to fight for it.

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