Is 2024 the year you become an American expat?

(Mark Thiessen/Associated Press)

Is 2024 the year you become an American expat?

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Virginia Heffernan

January 1, 2024

In 2000, Eddie Vedder, the Pearl Jam baritone and outspoken supporter of abortion rights, threatened to move to another country if George W. Bush were elected president.

With three Supreme Court positions open in the next administration, I dread thinking about a Republican in power, he said.

The same year, Alec Baldwin reportedly said he would leave if Bush won. So did the late director Robert Altman.

Bush won. Feather stayed. Baldwin stayed. Altman stayed. The right-wing celebrity joke about Huffy’s attitude was born.

The threat to leave the United States if X or Y is chosen, or B or T, is usually both bombastic and empty. The common wisdom is that it is better not to make the threat at all. It’s like a divorce. You’re not supposed to say anything unless you’re ready to follow through.

But with pollsters telling us that fear is at the top of the list of American feelings about the 2024 election, and with Donald Trump hoping for an explicitly dictatorial comeback in the White House, the prospect of departing for more democratic shores has a new appeal. Empty threats are foolish. But it is worth remembering a fundamental freedom:


to move.

I hardly have


thought about leaving the US in political protest. Even after the elections of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, whose policies differed greatly from mine,

repatriate expatriate

didn’t occur to me. Those two were democratically elected by an American majority.

Yes, it was demoralizing to have to accept presidents that the majority of the American electorate opposed, George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016. Presidents who end up in the Oval Office thanks to gerrymandering and the increasingly unbalanced Electoral College, with blatant support from the Supreme Court (Bush) or the Kremlin (Trump), are terrible for morale in a democracy.

Still, I haven’t created any listings for rental properties in Auckland yet

New Zealand,

or Vancouver.

But accept a leader who installs himself in the White House through a violent insurrection, as Trump tried to do just three years ago? That’s where the

repatriation expatriation

fantasy begins in earnest.

In recent years, the authors write a sweeping history of human civilization, ‘The Dawn of Everything’

David Graeber and David Wengrow

argue that human society needs three priceless freedoms: the freedom to disobey, the freedom to reshape society, and the freedom to distance ourselves.

When we consider that we can indeed escape from this country if the American experiment is hijacked, we send a signal to the nervous system that was still free in all three ways. Until all borders, ports and highways were closed, until every plane was grounded and martial law was imposed, we weren’t stuck here.

It is a deeply valuable practice of citizenship to explore the question of whether America has ultimately failed. After all, the origin story of many American families is being ignored. Consider it a thought experiment: what would it take to leave?

According to Gallup, a record number of Americans have seriously considered leaving the United States during Trump’s term. Sixteen percent said they wanted to split up for good. This was significantly higher than during the administrations of George W. Bush (11%) and Barack Obama (10%). Notably, 40% of women under 30 told Gallup in 2019 that they would like to leave. According to data collected last year by the Washington Post, the desire to get out increased again after Roe vs. Wade was destroyed in June 2022.

When I asked ChatGPT if I wanted to immigrate to Canada, I didn’t exactly get the friendly Come on in! message I was hoping for. Instead, it told me to try my luck with the Canadian bureaucratic visa and family sponsorship, Express Entry and


Provincial nominees program



At the same time, if you can gain a foothold abroad, it’s easier than ever to support yourself abroad. The pandemic-era workforce remains widely dispersed. Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that about 28% of

the American workforce is working remotely. In the private sector, employees telecommuted some or all of the time

other research

indicates that that percentage may be too low. Other studies

have put

the number is closer to 50%.

You may be able to leave the US and take your job with you.

And many people


to leave. In 2020, a prominent American legal journalist took her family to Canada, where she grew up. She is content to no longer live in the long shadow of our sold-out, far-right Supreme Court. who fled political instability in the United States for Norway earlier in 2019, convened a Reddit group called r/AmerExit to help others considering a move. One member, Richard Altfeld, left for the Netherlands with his wife Tiana Esperanza. A biracial couple, Altfeld and Esperanza, were fed up with American racism, among other things.

The urge to escape is of course not only felt by liberals. Another Gallup poll shows that Republicans’ pride in being an American is near a record low.

As they look for new homelands, Republicans could look to Trump for inspiration. On the stump he has showered dictatorships in Hungary, China, Russia and North Korea with praise. In any case, his followers have four solid options for it

repatriation expatriation



Biden wins re-election.

But actually leaving is of course not easy. The problem with moving to Canada can be the bureaucracy. But the problem with moving to the autocracies richest in Trumpian values ​​is that they also tend to be hostile to immigrants.

Virginia Heffernan is a regular contributor to Wired and writes a newsletter, Magic and Loss



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