“Thin Line”'s Guide to Expatriation. Facts are sometimes hard to face, but, yes, George W. Bush, running on a record that even many Republicans found appalling, still won the election.
As a result, “Thin Line” received an e-mail last week with the subject "really freaked out." The message read: "What do you think is going to happen in this/to this country in the next four years? Some of my friends are thinking about leaving the country and how to plan to do it."
Well, for those of you like-mindeds, the October Harper's magazine has already drawn a road map, but if you read it carefully, it ends up right back here in the USA. The article, entitled “Electing to Leave” begins: "Given how much the United States as a nation professes to value freedom, your freedom to opt out of the nation itself is surprisingly limited." The reason for this, not surprisingly, is taxation. It seems the IRS, in order to obtain tax obligations, keeps tabs on all "renunciants" who move overseas. (Oddly, U.S. corporations who move their addresses to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands receive some sort of exemption—that's a whole different breed of renunciant.)
The State Department, bureaucratically speaking, also frowns on the idea of a U.S. citizen looking for a new homeland. "Before allowing expatriation, the department will want you to have obtained citizenship or legal asylum in another country—usually a complicated and expensive process, if it can be done at all," Harper's reports. Still, the article explains in detail the realistic (or not so) prospect of moving to Mexico, France, Belize and even the Rez (assuming you aren't Native American already).
Although Harper's makes Canada sound unwelcoming, an article last week in Salon.com quotes a Canadian immigration attorney saying all you need to move up north is a bachelor's degree and fluency in English and “Bingo, you're in.” That might explain the 115,000 hits Canada's official immigration website logged from the U.S. last Wednesday, up from the usual 20,000 daily average.
The most practical solution for wannabe expatriates might be to get yourself a boat, wave the flag of your choice and float outside the United States' 230-mile zone of economic control. Free at last! But you should consider the capriciousness of the high seas before you set sail, Gilligan.
In other words, tomorrow's another day, and if you don't like what Bush and Cheney are doing to our Constitution, environment, military and economy, then do your civic duty and oppose their policies with all the fight you can muster. Call it the American way.