Threatening to relocate to the Great White North is a proud American tradition.
Photo via Flickr user Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
Americans have a proud tradition that brings us comfort and emotional release whenever political or economic woes threaten our sense of values and normalcy: We threaten to move to Canada. That’s right—claiming that we’ll flee to Canada (and rarely following through) is as American as apple pie. And now many U.S. residents, terrified at the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, are once again invoking the prospect of an escape to the Great White North.
As Trump’s continued primary victories cemented the likelihood of his eventual nominee status throughout yesterday’s “Super Tuesday” races, Simon Rogers, Google’s data editor, tweeted: “Searches for ‘how can I move to Canada’ on Google have spiked +350% in the past four hours.”
Brian Ries at Mashable points out that by midnight Tuesday, the search had jumped by at least 1,150 percent, and maybe as much as 1,500 percent, if related terms (“moving to Canada,” “can I move to Canada”) are included. He also speculates that technical errors experienced by the Canadian government’s website last night might have been related to the spike in disaffected Americans looking for a new home in case of a Trump presidency.
Across race, class, and political lines, everyone loves the idea of moving to Canada. Vietnam draft dodgers famously ran north to escape the horrors of war. The trope is included in Stuff White People Like, and last year Kyle Lydell Canty, a black American man, sought refugee status in Canada, claiming that racial prejudice in the States gave him cause to find a new, safer place to live. The homeland of poutine, Celine Dion, and—somewhat paradoxically—socialized healthcare became attractive to conservatives furious at the Affordable Care Act in 2012, and during the worst of the Bush years, every pissed-off liberal I know was supposedly packing their bags.
The “Maple Escape” might be a classic way for Americans to blow off steam. But the thought of a Trump presidency is, in fact, concerning. What was once a ridiculous joke, the kind of worst-case-scenario outcome that one might cook up in satirizing the celebrity-worshipping, soda-swilling, Duck Dynasty-watching aspects of American life, has given birth to a reality where Trump could trample through the U.S. political landscape like some kind of awful, orange, combed-over Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
My own initial urge to laugh at the prospect is almost immediately replaced with a grim smirk, then a frown of concern, and then the kind of look one might display after inhaling the scent of a particularly noxious fart. Would the political system keep his worst tendencies in check? The thought of Trump interacting with foreign heads of state is disturbing, to say the least. If he were even able to implement some tiny part of his terrible policy proposals or xenophobic demagoguery, it would certainly be a rough age for the good old USA. I mean … what would I do if Trump were elected president? What would you do? It’s almost enough to make you want to move to Canada.