Sixteen years ago, I moved my family across the continent from Prince Edward Island in Canada to San Diego, CA. I moved for work, having a job offer in my chosen field from a small biotech company. A couple years later, that firm shut down and I was able to get a better job with a major pharmaceutical company nearby. My eldest daughter grew up in Southern California, and my younger was born and raised here. In 2009, we took the plunge and bought a house we absolutely love in a great neighborhood with fantastic schools. I give this background so you know that although I’m not a US citizen, I have plenty of skin in the game.
November 8th, my wife and I watched in shock and growing horror as the country that we had adopted made a choice. It opted not to allow an eminently qualified and passionate woman who had served the country for her entire life to become president. Instead, they chose a caricature of a man; a blustery orange-hued bully who belittles women casually, disparages legitimate war heroes and their grieving families, and openly mocks the disabled. A two-bit reality TV star and self-proclaimed billionaire who has multiple lawsuits, bankruptcies, and unpaid contractors in his wake. A man who has repeatedly refused standard requests for his tax returns, has innumerable unresolved conflicts of interest, and who lies with a frequency and lack of shame that is truly remarkable.
Backed openly by white supremacists and the KKK, still enough people in the “right” places voted for him to be the leader. Open racism, sexism, and misogyny were not enough for them to say “No. This man does not represent us and should never be president”. Bragging about sexually assaulting women while having multiple women accuse him of exactly that was not enough. Evidence of Russian hacking to directly interfere in the US election in his favor was not enough. Because emails or something.
Trump lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes, a number unprecedented in US history, but still managed to win the electoral college. Nonetheless we held onto hope, as the Founding Fathers of this country including Alexander Hamilton and James Madison had, after all, created the electoral college specifically to prevent an unqualified populist such as Trump from taking power. Then the EC rolled over like a good dog instead.
Throughout his candidacy, many prominent members of the GOP disparaged the Donald, and even following his nomination, many refused to endorse him. And one by one they fell in line like good little lapdogs.
January 20th of 2017 was a day that will go down in infamy. It was the day the US turned its back on progress, chose hate over love, and became both the laughingstock and a source of deep unease to the rest of the world.
On a personal note, for my family this was a dealbreaker. The dealbreaker. Our home of the last 16 years was now a place we no longer recognized. Maybe we were living in a “liberal bubble” as so many have accused, but that is exactly the life I chose.
I choose to live in a place that understands that science is not a liberal conspiracy and that climate change is both real and one of the greatest dangers of our time. A country that believes in women’s rights and has no need to legislate their private parts. Somewhere that recognizes that people are people and should be treated as such regardless of the color of their skin, their sexuality or gender. That, in the words of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda: “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, and cannot be killed or swept aside”.
A place not ruled by the fear of old white men feeling their privilege slipping away in a changing and evolving world.
Many people have told us “Don’t worry. This is just another transition, and he’ll probably be voted out in four years.” Yet, absolutely nothing about this election, the transition, or the beginning of Trump’s presidency has even resembled normal.
Never before has there been such a narcissistic demagogue elected to the highest seat in the land. A liar so prolific that the fact checkers can’t keep up, and whose followers are ardent enough that in his own words “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”. Someone who has repeatedly demonstrated that he has no respect for the rule of law, and does not feel bound by it. A man who has repeatedly attacked and threatened the press, who pledged to “drain the swamp”, then filled his cabinet with billionaires whose only qualifications appear to be large donations to his campaign.
This cannot be normalized. The very foundation of America and its freedoms is under attack, and things are only likely to get worse from here. How much worse remains to be seen, but those who actually understand history have been drawing parallels to Germany in the 1930's for some time, and these are not unwarranted.
As for us? Our contract has been broken. I will not stay to bear witness to what follows. I will not raise my daughters in a country that is trying to tell them they are less than, that is clawing back the fundamental rights that women before them fought and died for. After 16 years of building a life here, we will be leaving. I’m not even sure where we’ll be emigrating to yet, but that’s less important at the moment. The world is a very big place with lots to explore.
Don’t worry about us; we’ll be fine. We recognize how incredibly fortunate we are that moving is an option for us. This is just another adventure to be had, another chapter in the book of our lives. I reserve my worry for those we are leaving behind who are visible targets of this New World Order; our gay and lesbian friends, the immigrants and refugees who came here looking for a better life who are now facing open discrimination, the Muslims, Jews, and atheists who don’t fit into some peoples’ definitions of “Freedom of Religion” and the people of color having it demonstrated that Black Lives Don’t Matter at all to far too many.