Donald Trump has proved to be an extraordinarily polarizing figure – The UK has a petition to ban him from entry, Canada’s preparing for Trump refugees, Americans are bitterly bickering about politics and more than politics. Some still don’t take him seriously, thinking he’s as unelectable as Bernie Sanders is said to be (these people are just as dangerous as Trumpeters). Others are spending their energy fracturing the Democratic Party with arrogant and irresponsible arguments based more on personal preferences and ideologies than anything else. Millions, including Noam Chomsky, still believe there’s meaningful differences between the parties. But the most interesting debate to me, the one that is the most personal, is the “should I stay or should I go now” fight.
The “stay” side rightly points out that only those who actually have the means to get out are even considering it. But this does not at all mean that leaving your home country if a fascist, shameless bafoon wins the ability to rule over you is only about privilege. It’s also not about running away. Authoritarianism, power-hungry governments and conformity corporatism is claiming more and more political and economic real estate the world over. As someone “privileged” enough to consider leaving the only home, culture and people I’ve ever known, I know better than to think that I’m actually getting away from totalitarian lunacy – or even specifically Trump. America is a ridiculously entangled country, with military in over 140 countries and a willingness to blow off UN sanctions when the rich elite need more war money; there’s no escaping the effects, side and otherwise, of the US presidency.
Leaving the US if Trump is elected is not about self(ish)-preservation. It’s not about shirking whatever oral obligations to stay and “fix it” there may exist. These duties, in fact, exist but unless you’re doing more than voting, you don’t get to pretend that staying behind if Trump wins is any more noble than bugging out. In fact, at this point, we need both. If it’s not obvious why we need the “stayers,” it’s because in a (representational) democracy, the mechanism by which the government is molded and changed, theoretically, is the people. Trump is extraordinarily divisive and polarizing, but that doesn’t make him unique. The system that produced him, which is less of a democracy than a monied-interest corporate circus bath at this point, depends on personalities like his to continue “functioning.”
What do I mean? Trump actually wouldn’t exist as a viable threat to the presidency if he did not have supporters. Maybe it’s the fact that six hours of TV a day is the norm (and is more or less necessary to escape the grotesquerie of modern life?) for the ever lonelier American, but our politics has turned literally into a reality TV show – where Trump can straight-faced-ly call a protester at one of his womp fests “fat” and throw him out,” or use hideously sexist terms when talking about names (both to roiling cheers, no less) and attempt to shame a man who holds the position in his country that Trump wants for himself in his own for using a totally appropriate word in response to one of Trump’s proposed policies. No, Donald, you using “even half” of the word “fucking” would not be national scandal. You’ve used far worse words (in relation to women, minorities…really, anyone who isn’t rich, white, thin, male, straight and middle-aged) and have suggested far worse – like propose a fucking wall along the Mexican border – and the only national scandal is that people are clapping for you when you do.