2020 Hindsight: If Trump gets Re-elected, I’m Taking my Family and Leaving the Country

This time I really mean it.

We liberals are all familiar with the casual, insincere threats voiced leading up to the 2016 election. “If Trump wins,” we mused, “I’m getting the hell out.” We didn’t really believe these geographical never-Trump promises because we didn’t believe he’d actually win.

A year into the least likely – and in my opinion worst – American presidency in history, those once-hollow vows can be reexamined from a place of informed horror. That’s why I don’t need to wait until 2020 to proclaim this:

If Trump gets reelected, I’m leaving the United States.

Some context here: I am a white, middle-aged heterosexual male. I basically hit the demographic jackpot for American life, both before the Age of Trump and even more so during it. So my desire to flee has nothing to do with any personal safety or social status issues.

Rather, my reasons for packing a Go Bag two years from now are existential on a macro-level. I would see the re-election of Donald Trump as proof that America is no longer a stable, reasonable place to live, due to its citizens’ irredeemable inability to choose suitable leaders with any consistency.

Fool me once…

Mistakes happen, and on November 8, 2016, enough voters made a huge, big-league error that Donald J. Trump – an unprepared, ill-equipped and temperamentally unfit charlatan – became president of the most powerful nation on Earth.

We’re all familiar with the lowlight reel: Leading up to Election Day, Americans saw Trump shamefully mock the handicapped, fondly ponder his opponent’s assassination, publicly ask a hostile foreign power to intervene, and vulgarly brag about sexual assault. They elected him nonetheless – an alarming failure of judgment.

What’s more alarming is this: After a full year of anti-science posturing, dog whistle racism, and nuclear brinksmanship, more than a third of Americans still support this president; though historically low, considering his abysmal performance Trump’s 39% approval rating is terrifyingly high.

This country – or not nearly enough of it – isn’t learning from its mistake-of-all-mistakes. The fact that Trump has any chance whatsoever of winning a second term is unfathomable. For me, that prospect is also unacceptable.

Shame on us.

There were warning signs of America’s decline well before Donald Trump descended a gilded escalator and, in the same breath, declared Mexicans rapists and himself a candidate for the highest office in the land.

Compared to other developed countries, America receives poor marks for education, infrastructure, and healthcare. We have the fourth-highest income equality, hampering class mobility – ironically, a mainstay of the American Dream – and creating a scenario where one in five children live in poverty in what remains the world’s wealthiest nation.

All the while, a lurking albatross of national debt has steadily crept toward its current, untenable $20 trillion milestone. Well before Trump, crippling political gridlock negated efforts to address any of these urgent problems while we slid further into second-world status and progress-preventing debt.

Sprinkle in the hollowing out of middle-class, Middle America manufacturing and the inevitable racial backlash after two terms of our first black president, and – Voila! – here we are, in 2018, with all of the aforementioned problems plus a truth-averse, autocratic in the White House.

Abetted by a fractured media landscape that silos political tribes into reinforcement-fueled echo chambers, we’re all a bit guilty for where we are as a nation. Donald Trump is a symptom of our national sickness rather than its cause. And the patient – our country – is fading fast.

Fool me twice…

Though driven by political siloing, our current electoral crisis has little to do with political leanings. Case in point: George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney – the three previous Republican presidential candidates – are honorable men with whom I, a progressive Democrat, strongly disagree with on most issues.

Donald Trump is different. I can’t trust the judgment of anyone who, after a full year of his presidency, can’t see that.

That said, what Trump’s re-election would do is confirm the creeping suspicion that America as we’ve known it is dead. An adequately functioning democracy requires a critical mass of citizens capable of choosing leaders with baseline competency. Trump winning a second term would, for me (and I suspect many like-minded liberals), indicate that this critical mass no longer exists, and probably never will again.

It is scary, of course, to envision uprooting my family and starting anew in a foreign land. I love this country and have never known another home.

But it is scarier still to envision spending the rest of my life – including the bulk of my toddler son’s childhood – in a nation ignorant enough to elect Donald Trump president…  twice. To me, that would signify a disqualifying dearth of the reliability and stability I’ve come to depend upon as a professional, a father, and a citizen.

We’re already seeing this play out via Trump’s spiteful executive orders, whose only goal seems to be the wholesale dismantling of his predecessor’s legacy. The practical result is that a principle of American life for centuries – the steady march of progress – is no longer guaranteed, or even likely.

If the country is foolish enough to reelect him, the volatility and unpredictability of our government will more resemble a war-torn third-world nation than the supposed leader of the free world. At that point, I’ll be moving to a country where responsible citizenship is more valued, and my family’s hopes for safety, stabilit, and success more assured.

better world

Photo: Getty Images

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