AFTER SUPER TUESDAY THIS WEEK, the American left collectively asked itself, “Holy shit… is there actually a chance Donald Trump could be our next President?” Then, as a whole, we flocked to the Canadian immigration website and crashed it.
It’s a fairly common sentiment among Americans who are disgusted with their country: “If so-and-so wins/If taxes go up, I’m moving to Canada/the UK.” And it’s totally understandable. The prospect of a Trump-run America is truly terrifying in a Europe-in-the-1930’s type of way.
But please. Stop saying you’ll move to Canada if Trump wins. You’re really, really not helping.
First: He’s not going to win.
Talk to your family. Talk to your friends. Sure: some of them probably like Trump for reasons that make you respect them a little bit less. They probably pull out lines like, “He tells it like it is!” to which you must always scream back, “IN WHAT WORLD IS WHAT HE SAYS REMOTELY CONNECTED TO THE WAY THINGS ARE?”
(If you aren’t sure if anyone you know supports him, check out this website which will show you all of your friends that like Trump on Facebook.)
Take a moment. Be furious. Now take a breath: he’s not going to win. There’s no chance. If I’m wrong, in November, I’ll eat my words (and wash them down with some cyanide), but I don’t think there’s any chance I’m wrong. The reasons?
- He’s alienated the African-American, Hispanic, female, and youth-voter blocs. You do not win a Presidential election in 2016 without these groups.
- Nate Silver says he is really, really disliked among general election voters. And Nate Silver is never wrong.
- If he does win the nomination, there’s a decent chance even a lot of Republicans will rebel against him. Even Glenn Beck — the man Trump unseated as “most insane conservative in America” — has used the increasingly popular conservative hashtag #NeverTrump.
Second: It feeds into the US vs. the Rest of the World narrative.
Part of what feeds the xenophobic nonsense that’s currently happening on the right is a paranoid sense that other countries are against us. It’s this us vs. them narrative that cynical demagogues like Trump try to exploit. So when you see the British debating whether or not to ban Trump from their country — no matter how legitimate that debate is — it only serves to make the type of American who could support Trump more likely to vote for him.
You might remember, if you traveled outside the US between 2003 and 2008, that much of the rest of the world was pretty pissed at us over the Iraq War. Many Americans took up the extremely lame practice of wearing Canadian flag patches on their bags to prevent potential “attacks.” These “attacks” had a tendency to not materialize: this was the period in which I traveled most, and while occasionally people confronted me about American foreign policy, it always resulted in lively and fulfilling conversations rather than in bodily threats.
It’s this impulse — the impulse to flee to another country or to switch flags when confronted with political discomfort — that serves the lunatic fringe enormously. Because not only does it reveal left-wingers as spineless and dishonest, but it allows the right to conflate our spinelessness and dishonesty with support for other countries. It’s not fair to anyone.
Third: All countries have their problems. Running away is a pretty ineffective way of fixing them.
Liberals giggled with glee this January when Bill O’Reilly said that if Bernie Sanders was elected, he’d flee to Ireland rather than pay the higher taxes that would come under Sanders. The funny part? Ireland has higher taxes. And gun control.
Unfortunately, we sound similarly stupid when we say we’re running off to Canada. Yes, Canada is generally more progressive than the United States (and yes, poutine is the food of the gods). But it also has a history of abusing its aboriginal citizens, it is home to the most environmentally destructive project on earth, and it has higher unemployment than the US. And it’s not immune to embarrassing politicians: look, for example, at the famous crack-smoking Mayor Rob Ford.
None of this is to say Canada isn’t a nice place, it’s just that you’re going to be disappointed if you move there and expect a perfect society (also, if America goes to shit in the way you might expect it to under Trump, how long do you think that shit’s not going to spread to other surrounding countries?). There is no place on earth that isn’t a work in progress, and the only places that get better are the ones that are constantly being worked on by good people.
So if you want a perfect society, rather than looking for it elsewhere, try to build it here at home.