Congratulations, Steph! In case you don’t know, our very own Stephanie De La Garza earned New Zealand residency status earlier this week. As per usual, Steph is out there living the dream while many of her fellow Americans flounder in the backwash of a volatile presidential campaign.
The U.S. is in its most divisive state since the Civil War. Our two-party system has proven its foibles beyond a doubt, and many question our voting protocols. The pot is boiling and many of us are dreaming of escape.
Tuesday, November 8th was a particularly volatile day. Facebook went airborne with impassioned posts voicing everything from nail-biting angst to gloating comeuppance as election results poured in across the country. One candidate won the popular vote by a reasonable margin, the other the electoral vote by a landslide. Voter turnout was low, a disturbing trend illustrating the path from frustration to apathy.
The rest of the world watched in horror as the wild-card candidate took the lead. My expat friends immediately posted concern for global politics. Several offered me and Bob safe haven. I was seriously tempted.
In the following days, there was unrest. Emboldened by the president elect’s bully-pulpit rhetoric, we saw open aggression towards minorities. Equally disappointing, there was rioting by the losing party. The streets in our little town were subdued. I stayed close to home, venturing only to the places I absolutely had to go.
My world seemed split between gloaters and the furious. It seemed like a good idea to get out of Dodge, at least until things settled down. I meandered dreamily between a sunny olive grove in Southern Italy and a quiet seaside town in Australia.
But then I began worrying about the logistics. Would our borders still be open? If so, would we be able to get back in? How likely were we to encounter backlash in our target destination?
Predictably, there was a post-election spike in U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico and Canada but I was surprised to see United Arab Emirates in third place according to a story on Fox News. After reading that eighty-four percent of UAE’s population is foreign-born, this made more sense. Business Insider’s list of easiest places for Americans to emigrate to includes Mexico, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand. Way to be on the cutting edge, Steph!
Meanwhile, this braud has decided to stay put. Bob and I are deeply involved in the grassroots sustainability movement, doing our bit to change things from the ground up. There are two kinds of change, top-down and bottom-up and the shakiness we’re seeing at the top reinforces our resolve to build community resilience from the bottom. All the same, it’s nice to know we have other options, and I heartily encourage anyone considering travel to follow their heart. There couldn’t be a better time to launch your escape from the American Dream!