What Is With Americans Threatening To Leave The US If (Insert Candidate) Wins?

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Good Bye, America

There is an odd thing in America, that happens as regularly as the every-four-years presidential election cycle: people who insist they will leave the country if (pick one candidate) wins.

Usually the feared candidate is someone perceived as outside the mainstream. I remember back in the 1980s the hyper-conservative Ronald Reagan was causing liberals to announce their departure. In 2008, it was conservatives who planned to move overseas if Barack Obama, perceived by some of that ilk to be a Muslim, intent on implementing either Sharia law or socialist health care, took office.

This election cycle is no exception.

The actor Samuel L. Jackson, speaking of Donald Trump, claimed on national television “If that (Expletive) becomes president I will move my Black (Expletive) to South Africa.” Not be outdone, Fox News conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly stated “If Bernie Sanders gets elected president, I’m fleeing. I’m going to Ireland.”

Bill O'Reilly Will Move To Ireland

The opinions of South Africa and Ireland on accepting either man have so far gone unrecorded. Between us, I don’t think too many Americans would be sad to see both men leave. Furthermore I am not too sure either one has given much thought to just how much more of a socialist system Ireland has, or to the rhetoric of some politicians in South Africa. (See Julius Malema)

The threat to move abroad is not limited to minor celebrities.

Some 54% of young people in the United States said a Trump presidency would make consider getting on a plane for good. That number spiked to 73% among young black Americans, and 64% of young Latinos. While Democrats ready to wish a Trump-led America behind predominate, a survey suggests one in three young Republicans feel the same way. For the sake of world peace, I hope they choose different destinations.

But fair enough; young people are, well, young people, with few ties and lots of emotion. But another survey said one in four federal workers, not exactly a spur-of-the-moment group, would consider leaving their jobs if Trump were elected president. The findings indicate those leaving government would come from agencies’ top ranks. It is unclear if anyone would notice that most of them had left their jobs, but you get the point.

Where Are The All Angry Americans Going?

Now, where are all these angry Americans headed (for those of you already overseas, consider this your fair warning)?

Destination, in order of popularity for those fleeing due to who wins the presidency, are: Mexico, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and a few other places scattered around Europe and the Caribbean. Oddly, Alaska and Hawaii, parts of the United States of course, also ranked high on the list of “foreign countries” self-exiled Americans would head to.

In addition to confirming the sad state of geography among Americans, the inclusion of Alaska and Hawaii also suggests about how serious and realistic Americans are in keeping their promise to expatriate themselves. While statistics are hard to come by, especially as regards motivation, actually very few of us get as far as traveling abroad and formally renouncing our citizenship. In 2014, for example, albeit not a presidential election year, only 3,400 Americans actually followed through. For all the tough talk, that is all of .001 percent of the U.S. population.

So we can surmise that most Americans will never walk the walk. So why do we talk the talk about picking up and leaving?

Maybe it is our immigrant heritage; Ireland, for one, tends to be generous in awarding citizenship to Americans with some blood connection to the Emerald Isle. Or imagined convenience — one can protest as a political prisoner from inside Canada or Mexico, and still be able to drive across the border to shop at Wal-mart on weekends. The UK and Australia are easy, speaking a variety of English many Americans can pick up after only a few years.

But perhaps the real reason so many talk about leaving and so few do is part American bluster, and part resilience.

We do love to boast, brag, bluster and boviate over here, and why just have a political opinion when you can have an over-the-top political opinion?

At the same time, there is in the end not much reason to leave. The country has clearly survived a very large number of incompetent presidents, both conservative and liberal. We have ended up with no re-education camps for free thinkers, nor do we have Sharia law or proper healthcare. America is in the end a resilient nation, and we’ll weather the current election, and whoever wins it, as we’ve done the previous ones.


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XpatNation is a Social News and Lifestyle magazine, focusing on the insights and experiences on ex-patriots living in The United States. XpatNation brings together the voices, thoughts, perceptions and experiences of the people of the world who have made the USA their home. Using their insight and unique understanding of the global world we live in to discuss culture, lifestyle, Geo politics and the day to day on-goings of this proud and powerful nation.

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