Crowds near London's Tower Bridge. The willingness to consider leaving America seems to be...

Crowds near London's Tower Bridge. The willingness to consider leaving America seems to be picking up speed on the left. Credit: Getty Images/Michael Godek

What if conservatives really do love the United States more than liberals do?

Or at least are more committed to staying?

If a willingness to leave the nation permanently is any indicator, the left’s heightening conversation over where to go, how to get there, and what to do for a living (“Do they have lash technicians in Saskatchewan? Do they want them?”) is a poor sign. Plus, if you think New Zealand craves millions of displaced American lefties, you’re not keeping up with the Kiwis.

This willingness to consider leaving, rare on the right, seems to be picking up speed on the left, and, although it's exponentially more musing than planning, even that musing is problematic: It implies a lesser devotion to the nation.

As a Jew, I'm likely in and around more of those conversations than most. I have relatives who debate fleeing like the Cossacks are approaching Commack. But this isn’t Berlin in 1933. The downtrodden-acting folks bantering about fleeing in the face of a Supreme Court turning the clock back and a national GOP attacking the peaceful transfer of power are not part of a small religious minority, as Germany’s Jews were. Their majority holds the White House and both chambers of Congress.

They ought to be plotting how to prevail at any cost, should things take another turn for the worse.

According to Gallup Polls, under George W. Bush and Barack Obama 10% of Americans said they’d rather live in another country. By 2017, with Donald Trump in the White House, it hit 16%.

By 2019, 40% of women under 30 wanted to go, as did 22% of respondents who disapproved of Trump, but only 7% of Trump supporters.

And in January, to a YouGov poll asking, “Have you ever thought about leaving the United States and moving permanently to another country?”, two-thirds of “very liberal” respondents said “yes” while one-quarter of conservatives did.

It’s unsurprising that conservatives, more often rural or suburban, have a stronger affinity for living in America than, in particular, coastal and big-city liberals. Someone who loves New York City may find much to enjoy in London or Toronto. But an American who treasures country music, turkey frying, megachurches, cornhole tournaments, NASCAR, and high school football isn't going.

But before they hunker down over the Fodors, progressive Americans should consider who could not flee in the unlikely event that Republicans and Democrats go from shouting to shooting. 

The impoverished and the elderly mostly can’t leave. Neither can many of the mentally and physically ill, the children and single mothers, and to an outsized extent, minorities. In other words, the people most vulnerable to stymied abortion access, to a physical environment unprotected by regulation, to a nation seething with cheap concealed weapons … the folks progressives are so sure to signal support for.

The talk of fleeing is deeply dispiriting to anybody, like me, who sees Jan. 6 and Trump's desire to run again as terrifying, who wants to battle for a fine and free nation and is appalled to hear friends speak of fleeing while potential enemies buy weapons like it's a commandment.

The values and institutions of a great nation are under attack. If that attack succeeds, the most vulnerable people will pay the biggest price. Anyone considering leaving needs to consider whom they'd be leaving behind.

Columnist Lane Filler's opinions are his own.

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