Americans are trying to figure out how to have a Happy New Year as the White House is about to be vacated by Michelle and Barack Obama. According to media reports, the new President and First Lady, Donald and Melania Trump, are not likely to live there. Rather, they’ll continue living in their penthouse apartment atop the Manhattan Trump Tower, keeping their son in his school in New York City. Dad will use the White House for ceremonial events, and the Secret Service will scramble to secure the new first family, in any of the Trump Towers they may occupy. So much for cost containment.
Many Americans are also trying to figure out what a Trump presidency will bring, especially since so much of the Donald’s campaign rhetoric turns out to be “inoperative,” as Nixon might say. Trump’s dismissive ridicule of women, physically impaired people, immigrants, even the Purple Heart and a Gold Star family, along with his reckless suggestions of expanding rather than contracting the number of nations with nuclear weapons, dishonest five-year “birther” campaign trying to discredit President Obama, bogus charitable foundation, and plan to put Secretary Clinton in jail, all fade with little accountability, rather like his campaign promise to force Mexico to pay for an impenetrable security wall along our shared southern border. Apparently there’s a gap between saying and doing.
A friend of mine has asked me how serious I am about considering a move to Canada, questioning my own election-season rhetoric. I jokingly reply that the Canadians may wall-off our shared border to the north, making my threat “inoperative” as well. Yet I was serious in considering a move to Vancouver: milder than the Twin Cities of Minnesota, closer to the Seattle branch of our family (including our grandchildren), and an opportunity to live where Prime Minister Trudeau is taking Canada in the opposite direction promised (or threatened) by Mr. Trump, a direction I can support with enthusiasm.
I came close to migrating to Canada once before, in 1968. I had applied to my local draft board for Conscientious Objector Status while in college, but my anti-war argument was dismissed. What I needed –and couldn’t provide– was a paper trail documenting active membership with the Society of Friends (“Quakers”), Mennonites, or the Church of the Bretheran, i.e., participation with a historic “peace church.” As a vague Methodist, my appeal didn’t stand a chance (even a serious Methodist wouldn’t qualify for CO status with my local draft board). A scar from leg surgery while in high school caught the eye of the military doc, so I was reclassified from 1-A to 4-Y, draftable to serve behind compat lines as a typist or clerk only under a declaration of war. Our country has fought many a war since WW II but never under a declaration of war. Now I could go to graduate school in the US rather than Canada. My somewhat arbitrary escape from the Vietnam war pushed me further into anti-war activism.
We need to remember that no one need renounce citizenship to become an expat, and many Americans feel a need to take a stand against the nastiness of the recent campaign and the throwback policies Trump seems to call for. Surely we can’t accept any and all political nonsense; we have to draw a line somewhere.
I don’t know whether I’ll be driven to find my way to Canada –or New Zealand, or Jamaica– to try daily living beyond Trump’s America, but I hope Americans won’t simply accept the shift from serious government to Bully-in-Chief or federal leadership as a reality TV show, with the ratings king at the top. With luck, Mr. Trump will be satisfied with having proven he’s “a winner” and bored with doing the hard work of governing. I’m sure he will not enjoy the pay cut and the required distance from his financial holdings, nor will his cabinet employees. I will not be surprised if
he doesn’t run for reelection; actually, he may be disgusted enough with DC gridlock to resign and leave us with Pence. Happy New Year?