There’s an epidemic of people swearing they’ll leave the U.S. if Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are elected. No, you won’t. In the spirit of David Letterman’s old Top 10 lists, here’s why.
• You can’t easily relocate to Canada. Although you’d think otherwise, Canada is not a likely first choice for your flight from horror. In 2014, only about 8,500 Americans relocated there permanently. Turns out the Canadians are picky about who they let in. Farmers, sportspersons (a term in the Canadian screening process), and artists have something of a fast track. Skilled workers too. Most of us don’t fit those categories.
• Mexico then? About 750,000 Americans are living there now, with another 250,000 snowbirding there. Most of those folks are retirees though, gone south for the less expensive lifestyle and good weather. But guess what? You need a visa for Mexico if you’re planning to stay. You’ll also want to read the travel advisories.
• You don’t speak the language. To reside in Canada, you’re going to have to prove you are fluent in English or French. Yes, there is a test, for a fee. Perhaps you speak at least some Spanish or French. In the expat communities, you’ll probably be fine. Wherever you are, an informal “tourist” tax may come with your lack of fluency. No refunds at the border.
• You’ll miss the food. Much the same happens if you move to another state. Are you willing to give up barbecue, Tex-Mex, and chicken-fried steak? Or Whataburger? For four years? Yes, you’ll lose weight and feel better, but this is a serious consideration.
• You can’t afford it. Parts of Central and South America are exceptions, perhaps, and you could be happy there. Unless you want to come back for holidays and birthdays and weddings, and on and on. It’ll add up. If you’ve watched HGTV, you’ll already know you can’t afford a house in Canada. Switzerland — another favorite for those threatening to flee — is among the most expensive places to live in the world. Not happening for most.
• You’re not a celebrity. Every election cycle, a heady group of A-listers announces departure plans. This year is no exception: Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Stewart, Cher, to name a few. Jennifer Lawrence announced the world would end if Trump’s elected; is the heroine of “The Hunger Games” and “The X-Men” harbor afraid? Raven-Symone of The Talk will leave if a Republican wins. She says she’s already bought her ticket. On the conservative side, Bill O’Reilly plans to move if Bernie Sanders is elected.
• You have too much stuff. Unless you’ve embraced Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” your possessions would pose a barrier. She wants you to keep only things that “spark joy.” Unless you’re willing to sell most of your stuff (as George Carlin called it in his classic bit) or know someone crazy enough to watch over it while you’re gone, material goods will hang around your neck like an albatross.
• You really can’t afford it. As stated above, moving puts you in another country using your own resources. It neglects what bills you’ve left behind. A 2015 Harris Poll survey cites typical American debt at $130,922, with $15,762 on credit cards. That’s a lot of money. Even if you sell most of your stuff, some folks here are not going to want you to go. Get a Dave Ramsay book maybe, and dig yourself out of debt. He talks about freedom a lot. It sounds great, but working in another country is yet another hurdle.
• You’re not a liar. Saying “I’m leaving” is just a way of expressing frustration. Unless you’re a Republican running for the nomination, probably no one calls you a liar. Don’t put yourself in a position where someone calls you up on Nov. 9, offers to help you pack, and you have to say something stupid.
• You’re not a coward. This country is worth saving. No matter what side you’re on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are two of the most wonderful documents ever written. In the past, few have ever followed up on these empty threats. Stay. Get active in your party of choice. Donate. You’ve got a voice. It’s better to use it than to run.
Mary Ann Taylor of Duncanville, Texas, works in social services. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She wrote this article for the Dallas Morning News, for which she is a volunteer columnist.