On not leaving America

commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/United_States#/media/File:Statueofliberty.jpg –Nicolai Schäfer – de.wikipedia.org (original image has been color inverted)

As things go weirder and weirder, and even the Onion has trouble keeping up, one sometimes has to ask – “Should I/we/you leave America?” It’s not a trivial matter; many rich folks are getting (read: buying) second or third passports, “just in case” things go badly in the US.

My take is that there are some big objections to this; some practical, and some more ethereal.  For example, if you become a citizen of another country, and things go badly quickly, are you going to be able to get there in time? If things go badly even slowly, are you willing to uproot your life and adapt to a new culture and way of life?   These are not trivial matters.

As screwed up as America is, it is one of the few countries founded on a good idea.  Yes, we are probably a plutocracy; but are other countries so pure that they aren’t owned by the rich either?   And for any of you who point to the Scandinavian countries, are they as ethnically, linguistically, and sociologically diverse as the United States?  This isn’t to say all that diversity is a good thing; a bit too much, and you don’t have a common culture to rally around.  But as diverse places go, America is probably doing a decent job about having the space where people can get along and live their lives.   In spite of everything screwed up about the US, people are still, quite literally, dying to come to America; the list of people giving up their citizenship is minuscule.

My own joke/thumbnail sketch for coming to America is along the lines of:

  1. Show up ready to work.
  2. Stop any fighting with random groups you had back in the old country.
  3. Bring the best parts of your culture; a holiday or two; some great food, and integrate it into the fabric of the country.
  4. Send your kids to school, and don’t flip out if they intermarry with someone from another culture, or gasp, someone from your ancient homeland’s enemy.
  5. Call yourself an American; hyphenated or not.
  6. Yell at your grandkids for becoming “too American.”

You may say America is built on business, and continues to do lousy things around the world.  And you may be right.  But given the alternatives (based on your parents, caste, or some odd quirk of birth), life in America isn’t horrific.  America has changed over the years; the legalization of gay marriage in 50 states (and admission into the military) is one of things that shows that yes, even America can move forward.

Still, to the point at hand – some folks think (or plan) that leaving the US is a good idea.  My ancestors left Europe, as many others did.  They left generally not for trivial things- war, persecution,  plague,  and pestilence are all reasons many came to America, and still do.   Leaving America, if those things came to pass, might be a viable option.  But to leave, without trying to change things, or leaving because the “wrong” person or persons got elected?   It all seems a bit… shortsighted.  Leaving the US also makes me think that you are a bit of an armchair patriot, unable or unwilling to stand up and fight for your rights, which was done by countless other groups (women, blacks, gays).  In theory, they could have left, and gone to countries with “better” space for them, but by fighting, they probably made the country a better place.


  • When would you leave the US, and why?
  • What is the ‘tipping’ point?
  • What do you do to make America a better place, a place worth staying for?






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