For as long as America has been electing Presidents, Americans on the losing side have been threatening to move to Canada. It hardly even qualifies as a threat anymore - it’s an empty bit of posturing, a symbolic way to let the guy sitting beside you at the bar know just how seriously you’re taking this whole election business.
Millions of Americans have half-heartedly threatened to take their ball and go to Canada based on the results of every election in recent history, whether it was if Bush was elected, or if he was re-elected, or (amusingly!) if Obama was elected. Shockingly, Canada wasn’t overrun by American election refugees any of these times - the process of uprooting your family and emigrating to a foreign country, it turns out, kind of sucks.
But this election, we’re told, is different. When people say they’re moving to Canada if Trump is elected, they’re super serious this time.
Google Trends reported an unprecedented spike in searches for the phrase “move to Canada” after Super Tuesday. Searches on Monster.com by Americans looking for jobs in Canada are up 58% this year. An Ipsos poll from March reported that 19% of Americans would consider moving to Canada if Trump wins. That’s somewhere around 60 million Americans that would consider heading north for the border - and even the most luxurious, big-league border wall couldn’t stop that influx. Even a handful of America’s most important citizens - Hollywood celebrities - have already said they’ll leave the country if Trump wins. Even Bryan Cranston! Not you, Cranston!
In other words, unlike those other elections where everyone eventually had their bluff called, we’re being told that this election is not a drill. If Trump wins, the Americans are coming. Bryan Cranston and all.
Now, before we get too far, we need to acknowledge the stubby-fingered elephant in the room, the one key problem with the line “if Trump wins, I’m moving to Canada”:
isn’t winning shit won, but, come on.
So Trump won, I was wrong about that. Fuck me, right?
Anyways, there is precisely a zero-point-zero percent chance that President Donald Trump successfully serves out his four-year term. He’s got an entire Congress stocked with Democrats who hate him and Republicans who almost equally hate him. And unlike on the campaign trail, there are actual consequences as a sitting President when you yell insane Infowars conspiracy theories into the nearest hot mic every fifteen minutes. He may have been able to cut enough backroom deals to weasel and scheme his way through the New York real estate world, but he has no D.C. allies who can protect him from getting eaten alive in an impeachment trial. That congressional hearing would make you think C-SPAN was having Shark Week.
If Trump doesn’t get immediately impeached for getting on the @POTUS Twitter an hour after his inauguration to tweet “Hillary Clinton beats hobos to death for sport and I have proof, sad!”, eventually a Trump presidency would fall victim to its other greatest weakness: Trump’s own boredom.
I’m far from the first person to point this out, but it sure seems like Donald Trump wants to the title of President far more than he wants the actual job of being President. Trump may be hoping it’s all just making up new laws and crank-calling Putin and groping interns, but half of the President’s day-to-day job is spent in meetings where advisers argue over the precise technical wording to use in an Iowa corn subsidies bill. Obama was a Senator and law professor, Bush was a two-term governor - they were comfortable with the dull bureaucracy, stacks of paperwork and polling wonkery that makes up most of the job. Donald Trump is a functionally-illiterate manchild with the attention span of a teenage butterfly. In President Trump’s first meeting with the Chair of the Federal Reserve to discuss a complicated interbank securities-swapping program, his eyes are going to gloss over like a C-student who accidentally got put in the advanced math class.
I promise you that if Trump were to win, his accomplishments during his time in office would make William Henry Harrison look like goddamn Lincoln.
Bookies should set the over/under on his presidency lasting until the 4th of July. You wouldn’t have even had time to unpack your suitcase in your new apartment in Canada.
On top of that:
2. Moving to Canada won’t solve all of your problems.
I have terrible news for people planning on moving to Canada as some sort of idealized liberal utopia: we occasionally elect our own shitty conservative leaders.
Justin Trudeau may be the new “it”-kid of liberal democracy, but for the better part of the past ten years, we had our own right-wing demagogue of a Prime Minister. Hell, sometimes we elect actual crack-smoking maniacs to the highest municipal office in the country, just to shake things up!
Canada has elected our own Conservative Party into office fairly regularly in a back-and-forth cycle throughout our history. We’ll elect a new Liberal Party government, it will be smooth sailing until they’re embroiled in some sort of scandal (there’s ALWAYS a scandal), we vote the Liberals out and go back to the cold embrace of the Conservative Party, then eventually our nagging conscience takes over and we go back to the Liberals. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Not to rain on everyone’s parade, but Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are going to lose an election to the Conservative Party at some point. The Liberals will eventually be felled by a complicated scandal that the papers will call something like “Sulfur Plant-Gate”, or “Saskatchewan-Scam”, or “Banff-ghazi”. And our next Conservative Prime Minister might not be just a garden-variety dweeb sporting a bad haircut and a fixation on taxes. Some of the current Conservative Party leadership candidates have all of the gay-marriage-hatin’, abortion-bannin’, Muslim-discriminatin’ policies of their Tea Party contemporaries over the border.
Hey, did you know that Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary is widely believed to be a frontrunner as the next Conservative Party of Canada leader? What do you do if you moved to Canada to escape President Trump, just to move to a country that immediately elects its own loudmouth right-wing millionaire best known for hosting a business reality show? Where do you threaten to move after that happens - Iceland? Do you just live your life as a nomad going from country to country as they form left-leaning governments, like you’re following Phish on tour?
3. Immigrating to a foreign country is hard.
One thing you’ll learn about Canadians if you choose to move here is that we love lining up in an orderly fashion. It’s something we adopted from the British, along with putting vinegar on our fries and saying “zed”. And as such, there’s a long line of people waiting patiently in line to become Canadian citizens, a complicated and bureaucratic process that can take years.
It certainly helps your prospects of getting citizenship by being an American with specific job skills, and it definitely speeds things along nicely if you manage to find a nice Canadian to marry you, but even that doesn’t get you automatic citizenship. You have to apply (and pay a fee) just to get permanent resident status, there are mountains of paperwork and interviews to go through, and it can all add up to a very long and frustrating experience.
There’s something a little off-putting about this whole idea, that at a time when millions of people around the world are struggling and dying for the right to escape their situations and resettle in a new country, Mr. Compassionate Democrat out in suburban Boston can just proclaim to the rest of the Whole Foods checkout line that he’s going to move to Vancouver if Trump wins - as if becoming a foreign citizen is as easy as buying the plane ticket.
All of this isn’t to say that you can’t move to Canada. By all means, move to Canada if you’ve done the research, and you’re up for the hurdles, and you’re in it for the long-term. It’s a lovely country! All I’m saying is, the reported 19% of Americans toying with moving to Canada specifically to avoid a Trump presidency are being short-sighted at best. Canada is not a bomb shelter to hide in. By the time you’ve completed the whole process of uprooting your life, quitting your job, finding a new job in Canada, moving, getting a work visa on the path to getting citizenship and unpacking your underwear, a potential Trump presidency would virtually be over, and the cycle’s back to electing a Democrat in 2020.
Trump shouldn’t be written off as a total joke - he’s legitimately scary, and the supporters he’s whipped into a frenzy are scary, and it may seem tempting if you’re a young liberal American watching this trainwreck unfold on CNN to just flip your desk over at work and get a lease on an apartment in the hip part of Montreal. But at the end of the day, you have family in America, you have friends, you have a purpose and a bartender you like and a good Netflix queue going (our Netflix selection sucks here!), and inertia is a powerful force.
A Donald Trump presidency would suck for a whole lot of people. But the good news is that it would end, likely prematurely, and America will still be standing. The even better news is this:
Donald Trump’s not winning oops lol.