How bad does it need to get before it’s time for me to leave the country? This question has been popping up more frequently in news stories and on social media. Google searches for terms like “how to move out of America” have spiked to levels not seen since even before Trump’s election. Shockingly, Texas residents have high search results. I feel their pain.
I will admit I am still in a state of shock that we elected a game-show host and six-times-bankrupt casino owner to run a multi-trillion-dollar “business.” And it is entirely plausible that if the economy doesn’t fall into a recession and continues to chug along regardless of Trump’s foolhardy and damaging trade policies, he could win another term.
Imagine four more years of an unrestrained, unrepentant, mentally unstable leader. Four more years of a man who thinks he has unlimited power, who believes he’s a ruling dictator with a lapdog Senate, who has our Department of Justice run by a consigliere Attorney General, there to investigate his opposition, or to investigate by tweet. No one will be safe. He will add one or two more Supreme Court Justices with no vetting and will create a court so tilted to the right they’ll need the liberal justices to act as a pole so it doesn’t tip over.
Eleanor Pelta has secured Polish passports for herself and her two sons. Stephanie Schwab is planning an escape route via Spain. Elie Jacobs has begun to keep enough cash on hand to buy last-minute plane tickets to Israel for his family. Alex and Aussa Lorens are applying for work visas in Australia, while Josh Lewin is aiming for New Zealand.
Kami Lewis Levin already has her bags packed and tickets purchased. She leaves next week, with her husband, three children and a dog, for a new home in Costa Rica.
I can’t blame them for wanting to leave and making a better life outside the Autocratic States of America.
For years, I have dreamed of retiring to the southern region of Portugal, the Algarve. It has been my plan for years. Beaches, fresh food, fish, sunshine, no snow, cheap wine, an expat community, Portuguese fishermen — what’s not to love? f things go sideways on Nov. 3, 2020, why not leave? I also have a British mother — I’ve gone so far as to look into getting dual US-UK citizenship and running, maybe, to London. The rain makes jolly old England a bit too gloomy for me, though.
And what is my responsibility to stay — to work to make this country better? What if all the progressive voters like me up and leave? Can I leave a country I love? Can I renounce my citizenship so easily? Should I stay and get more politically active than I’ve ever been? I’m not 25; I don’t bounce back from disappointment so quickly. I also think that if this unfit buffoon gets four more years, it will be the decline of the world’s most amazing country: he will isolate us, shut the doors, close the blinds and turn all allies against us until we’re not part of the global economy or even have a seat at the table. We’ll be a laughing stock — a country to be tolerated, but not taken seriously.
Foreign ministers are already discussing their plan for a second-term Trump. “In 2016, nobody believed he was going to be elected, Gérard Araud, a former French ambassador to the US, told Politico. “People don’t want to be stupid twice.”
Some countries, knowing Trump’s mercurial temperament, are waiting to see who wins to make any trade deals. Other countries are looking at the long game — thinking that if Trump wins a second term, future Democratic candidates also become more Trumpian in global matters, and that will force a shift in the thinking of our vital partners as well. They will determine that something fundamental has shifted in America. For US allies like France and Germany, a serious reevaluation of our military and economic partnerships will result.
Much of America fears an extension of the most turbulent, divisive, rage-tweet-filled and unsteady presidency in our modern history. I know it scares me and further fuels my desire to find a place to live that better aligns with my belief system. I won’t, for example, live in an openly racist country. I won’t live in a country where the Christian Right has power over legislation and therefore power over my life. I won’t live in a country where a woman’s reproductive rights are trampled upon. I won’t live in a country that puts children in cages after ripping them away from their families. I won’t live in a country subjugated by a megalomaniacal, ignorant buffoon surrounded by ignorant buffoons.
I do have great hope that what got Trump elected — his newness; his refreshing and brash, tell-it-like-it-is persona — has now been shown to cover up his idiocy. His inability to retain the best people, or even just to read a briefing book, belies an inherent laziness and the fact that he doesn’t know the “best people.” I believe voters are sick and tired of endless rage-tweeting and constant lies. Farmers are sick of losing money due to ill-thought-out tariffs. Voters are realizing that he hasn’t kept campaign promises, that infrastructure has gone nowhere, that the wall remains an unbuilt joke that Mexico isn’t paying for, that coal isn’t coming back, that the steel industry isn’t growing, that the deficit is $1 trillion a year.
College-educated women are turning on Trump. Blue-collar women are turning on him, too. He’ll never get the Black or Hispanic vote. In fact, Trump’s racism is energizing them: a comprehensive analysis conducted by Univision provides a detailed look at state-by-state 2018 certified voter data, revealing information about the growing role and significance of Hispanics, in particular, as a voting bloc. It shows the rate of increase in Hispanic voters in 2018, versus 2014, was more than double that of total voters. The turnout rate among Hispanic voters age 18 to 24 exploded 170%, on average, in California, Texas, Nevada, New York, Illinois, Florida and New Jersey. Among Hispanic voters age 25 to 34, turnout rose 128%. Trump is even losing some non-college-educated men in states he needs, like Pennsylvania, as shown by their forced participation at a recent rally at a Shell plant. Show up or lose a day’s pay, these workers were told. All not a good sign.
There is more than a year left in this endless election. The Democratic bench is full of well-qualified candidates; the top four beat Trump comfortably in a recent Fox News poll. This gives me some measure of confidence that my worst fear won’t happen, and I can continue my plan to sit my butt on a beach, drink wine all day and flirt with Portuguese fishermen as they walk by when I’m 70.
But if the worst does happen, I will have an expedited plan. And if need be, I’ll leave just a little bit early.