Fleeing Trump’s America For Canada Isn’t The Answer

By Gemma Hartley

It seemed like such a joke at first when Donald Trump ran headlong into the race for the White House with a barrage of Republican presidential hopefuls. No one truly thought anything would come of it. Even Trump and his most trusted advisors didn’t see this swell of popularity on the horizon. Not even close. He was uneducated and uninterested in policy, constantly putting his foot in his mouth whenever he took the stage. Everyone seemed to be waiting for the straw that would break the camel’s back; instead, every inflammatory remark only seemed to send his poll numbers soaring. His former communications director has come out saying that even she could not have imagined the monster she was helping to create.

Now, there is no denying the possibility of a Trump presidency. It could very well happen, and the horrified masses of leftists who never really saw him coming are scrambling to figure out what to do with his unprecedented rise to power.

As Donald Trump continues to gain an unsettling lead in the race toward the presidency, many liberals have set their sights abroad, vowing to leave the country if Trump wins the election. Most recently, Lena Dunham made the news when she announced her plans to flee for our northern neighbor in the case of a Trump victory. In the wake of Super Tuesday, search results for “How to move to Canada” surged over 350%. Articles with titles like “The Top 7 Countries To Move To If Donald Trump Becomes President” and “The Complete Guide To Fleeing President Donald Trump’s America” circulate on liberal newsfeeds, outlining which countries will welcome “displaced” Americans in the event of a Trump presidency. While Canada is the most obvious and commonly heralded choice, there are many other viable choices, too, including a quaint Irish Island ready and willing to take on the exodus of American people who can’t stand the thought of standing idly by while Trump rises to the highest office in the land.

Threatening to leave the country if “he” wins isn’t an unusual rallying cry. It’s been used many times before, in practically every election. A Montreal-based immigration lawyer, David Cohen, said in 2012 that he had been receiving calls from Americans for decades — all threatening to move to Canada if their party’s nominee didn’t win. However, in over 30 years as an immigration lawyer, Cohen only recalled three or four cases of Americans actually making good on their promise to migrate north. Will this really be the election that changes that?

Many liberals considering immigration do seem serious — plotting out detailed plans for life outside the U.S. Many are joking, their hyperbole a testament to their leftist values. But all are showing their (mostly white) privilege with an unnerving lack of empathy for those they will leave behind. A Trump presidency, barring any catastrophic pivot from democracy, would likely not affect the liberal elite in any tangible capacity. Leaving the country would not solve a problem for those with privilege — but it would certainly create one for those who don’t have the option of fleeing the country on a whim.

The truth is, those who would likely suffer horrors at the hands of a Trump presidency don’t have the luxury of packing up their lives and moving to greener pastures. First and second generation immigrants, those already living in poverty, and marginalized minorities don’t have the option of joking about living out the rest of their days with our neighbors to the north. They are too busy fearing for the future they will face when a demagogue rises to power and their privileged allies jump ship.

There is nothing noble about these proclamations threatening to abandon America in what many view as its darkest hour. This is not the time to flee — this is the time to rise up and fight for a country that needs saving. Anything less is a statement that this country and its people aren’t worth the effort. If those who are privileged enough to leave make good on their promises, what does that say to those they leave behind? Threatening to leave is not only anti-patriotic, it is blatantly waving white privilege in the face of those who actually have skin in the game. Claims of that magnitude, even when made jokingly, smack of elitism considering the high stakes of a potential Trump presidency for those who have no choice but to stay.

True allies to the marginalized communities that Trump disparages should think twice before flippantly mentioning running away. It is not a strong show of liberalism or morals, but rather a show of cowardice — or worse yet, apathy. If those who were once invested in the democratic process to this degree decide to up and leave, they are essentially saying they have no faith or interest in the future of the United States and the people who will go down with it. Let it all go to the wolves; we’ll be enjoying pancakes with maple syrup in Canada.

That sort of attitude will be the death of this country regardless of who wins this election cycle. Pulling a modern-day Pontius Pilate and trying to wash your hands of the filth that is Donald Trump once the vote is cast doesn’t exonerate the democratic party for all eternity. If you leave America to be crucified by Trump’s ardent fan base, there will be blood on your hands. A one-way ticket to Canada does not come with absolution.

Leaving the country, or even joking about it, isn’t the answer — fighting for it is. A country that falls into the hands of Trump is no laughing matter. Even if little changes politically, the social landscape could suffer devastating effects as his followers feel emboldened to no longer be the “silent” majority. If there are not enough people rising up against Trump’s dangerous rhetoric, it will become normalized. Trump’s hatred is contagious, as many accounts of his rallies have proven, and running away will only give more room for that hate to grow uninterrupted.

We need to look no further than those dangerous rallies to see demonstrations of true patriotism, like the Black Lives Matter protesters and hundreds of Bernie supporters shutting down Trump’s rally in Chicago. These progressives exemplify the type of courage that is the counterpoint to those threatening to leave, by fighting against Trump with measurable efforts. These are people fighting for America, telling Trump’s followers they cannot trample the country they love with their hate.

It is easy to feel betrayed by a country poised to elect a man like Trump. It is easy to say you would rather pack up and leave. However, abandoning Trump’s America is not the answer. If we don’t like what has happened to America, we need to fix it, not throw up our hands and pack our bags. Those who want to take a stand against his vitriol cannot do so while standing across the ocean, or on the other side of his wall.

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Lead image: flickr/ Greg Knapp; deviantart.org

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