After last night’s presidential election, many Americans woke up this morning feeling lost and betrayed. Some are talking about moving to Canada. Others are wondering if things would be better in Europe, or Australia. Believe me, I get it.
The reality of president-elect Donald Trump means a majority of US voters were willing to endorse, or at least dismiss, the Republican candidate’s blatant misogyny, xenophobia, and racism. It means that a man who can’t even control himself on Twitter will now have access to the nuclear arsenal.
Under these circumstances, it’s understandable that some Americans are thinking of fleeing the country. But many of the people who would likely be most vulnerable during a Trump presidency—refugees, immigrants, the poor—have nowhere to go. For their sake, and for the future of our country, those of us who have a choice shouldn’t give in to the impulse to flee. We should stay here and fight.
The list of people who fear Trump is long. He’s spoken out against Muslims, immigrants, and Mexicans. He characterizes African Americans as violent, poor, and uneducated, and indeed discriminated against them as a real estate magnate in the 1970s. He’s openly bragged about sexually assaulting women, suggested they should be “punished” for having abortions, supports the anti-transgender North Carolina law HB2, and has said that he would seek to reverse the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. Many Americans now have reason to worry about their ability to live free and peaceful lives. And Trump’s historically volatile temperament and willful ignorance could mean, ultimately, that none of us are really safe.
As a woman who believes in the equality of all people in this country, the results of this election have shocked and saddened me. I feel like I don’t understand my fellow citizens. I don’t want to live in a place where so many of them could vote against my best interests, and against the best interests of the people I care about. I’m scared for what the next four years may bring.
But I also know that, whatever happens under president Trump, we will need voices of dissent. We will need people who advocate for women’s equality, and teach the next generation that we deserve to be treated with respect. We’ll need people who will fight for the rights of immigrants and their children. We’ll need people who believe in a legal system that protects the rights of all Americans. And we will need people who can work to cultivate a society united not by fear and anger, but by love and acceptance.
For all of these reasons, if you’re upset enough about the outcome of this election to be contemplating leaving the US, please reconsider.
It’s important to remember that there are ways to flee the country without moving abroad. Some of us—including me—may be tempted now to retreat into our separate communities. But one thing this election has shown us is how broken the lines of communication are between the many sub-groups that make up America. If we withdraw into the familiar and refuse to talk to one another, Trump and his supporters will only grow more powerful.
The next four years will likely bring injustice and grief. We may see families separated; people in need abandoned; futures destroyed. Many of us will feel that America is not a place where we belong.
But we are not powerless under a Trump presidency. We can make our voices heard on the public and political stage. We can show ourselves, and the world, that we will not allow Trump and his supporters to make us feel unwelcome in our own home.