Dear Dirty America

DDA

A Real Decision 2012

July 23
09:29 2012
JEFF NEUMAN

For a growing number of jilted Americans, 2012 might go down as the year they make the most important decision of their lives. As you may suspect, it involves this year’s presidential election, but, as you may not suspect, this is a question of where rather than whom. As in, if Mitt Romney wins, where else in the world am I going to choose to live?

Many, myself included, have talked about it. When the U.S. has become too far removed from our personal sensibilities, as evidenced to us by, say, the election of such an obviously spiritless, poorly programmed automaton as Romney, it’s time to relocate to a democracy with priorities more in line with our own. Nothing, for instance, is more important to me than my sense of personal liberty, and the continued scaling-back of liberties (by Dems and Repubs both) is at the forefront of my personal desire to at least explore my foreign options.

Personally, even if Romney is elected, I’m not at the point where I’ll say I’m definitely going to leave, though I would certainly view it as an incredibly bad sign for the future of anyone in America who’d like to see reason eventually prevail. Many people are already at that point though, and, for them, I’ve decided to catalogue my top five choices* (at the moment, anyway, and not necessarily in order) for relocation destinations once I can no longer reconcile the expectation of a better America in my lifetime.

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Norway

In many ways the choice between Norway specifically and any of the other Scandinavian countries can be quite arbitrary. As of the 2011 rankings by the private Economist Intelligence Unit, Norway is the world’s top democracy**, followed by Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden. People in Norway pay roughly half of their income in taxes, but in return never worry about healthcare, education, or retirement (all of which are top factors in the overall financial insecurity of most non-wealthy Americans). I happen to have half my lineage come specifically from Norway and, though I’m not necessarily one for carrying around dead people’s baggage, it might be interesting to see and live in, at least for a while, the land that was home to that side of my ancestry.

Canada


Our friendly neighbors to the north have long been ahead of us in terms of both healthcare and drug policy, both of which are extremely important to me. Ranked #8 in the 2011 democracy index, Canada also makes an enticing choice due to our shared language and cultural similarities, which would obviously help speed the assimilation process. Additionally, cities like Toronto and Vancouver offer the promise of interesting nightlife and thriving artist communities, which as a writer currently living in Los Angeles appeals to me quite highly.


New Zealand


Breathtaking landscapes, a beautiful climate, and a laid back demeanor among its citizenry had New Zealand on my list of places to check out before I’d ever seriously considered expatriating this country. Since, I discovered in addition to these factors that NZ is actually ranked well ahead of the U.S. as a democracy (at least by the EIU: 5th to 19th), which helped facilitate the shift in my brain from “place I need to visit” to “place I might seriously consider living.” Having known multiple folks that lived in New Zealand for varying lengths of time in college, their high praise for the country also goes a long way toward nudging me in that direction.

Australia


After the Scandinavian countries, Australia ranks behind only New Zealand in terms of the EIU’s Democracy Index, coming in at #6 overall in the world. Like NZ, the warm weather is a major reason I might consider heading down under rather than to Europe, as the last year-and-change in LA has been a welcome respite from the 25 horrendous winters I had to endure living in Wisconsin and Minnesota.


Germany


Though their economy is sputtering currently and unemployment is quite high, Germany still manages to maintain its allure in my mind as a potential relocation destination. Berlin’s unofficial motto “Poor, but sexy,” coupled with its status as one of Europe’s true cultural capitals makes it seem, on paper at least, a great fit for a man of my sensibilities. What I know of prevailing German attitudes towards sex and drugs, as recounted to me by the multiple college exchange students and military servicemen I know who’ve lived there, also weighs heavily into my decision-making when including Germany on this list.

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I want to make it as clear as possible that, despite the fact that I use Romney’s election as an example of a factor that could–and certainly will, if it happens–incite some to leave the country, this is, for me anyway, not about the fact that he’s a Republican. I don’t even necessarily think things will be particularly different regardless which politician gets elected this time around, and I’m certain nothing will change on a fundamental level either way this election cycle (history has my back on this one). Instead, my desire to flee would be based on what I perceive as the two hugely negative symbolic connotations of Mitt Romney’s being elected in 2012.

1. Money always wins.

This isn’t about the fact that Mitt Romney is a rich guy. No legitimate candidate for president is exactly struggling. This is about the fact that in order for Romney to win, his campaign will presumably have to massively outspend Obama’s and we live in a place where that’s possible. For instance, the oil billionaire Koch brothers are contributing some $400 million of their own and their rich friends’ money to Romney’s election bid. Now, that amount would be disgusting, I think, even if they were best friends with the guy and really believed he had a plan to make this a better country, but the widely-publicized reality is that these assholes planned to donate that much toanyone who wasn’t Barrack Obama. Let’s think about it… why would an oil billionaire want to see any conservative elected so badly as to shell out nearly a half-bil to get it done? Surely it has much to do with their desire to see this country improved for everyone, and not the tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals, or the less-stringent environmental policies that would allow them to make more money at the expense of future generations. Two words: Fuck. That.

2. More than half of voters are morons.

No matter how much money gets spent in an election, an electorate cannot be forgiven for its ignorance. Regardless of the number of commercials that get thrown in our face, as voters and, I think, as human beings we have an obligation to assess the veracity of the statements we hear, particularly before casting a vote affecting other people. Rarely have I seen a politician telegraph his real intentions as clumsily as Romney, and no amount of money or advertising should shield him from that.

It’s clear from Mitt’s demeanor and lack of preparation that he views the presidency not as his opportunity to serve this country’s people and better America as a whole, but rather as yet another thing owed to him via his birth-into-privilege here. His priorities, for that reason, remain aligned always with those who can best help him achieve that endgame. By this, of course, I mean the wealthy individual and corporate donors it takes to finance an election bid these days, all of whom I imagine expect some kind of return on their “investment.”

Here’s where it gets gross: people who aren’t rich have to vote for him too, it turns out, if he’s to get elected. But why, you may ask (as I do constantly in my head), would someone in this country who isn’t well-off enough to see any financial gain from it want to elect a man as seemingly unqualified and out-of-touch as Mitt Romney? (I mean, Obama may be just as bad about campaign contributions but at the very least he favors some policies that benefit normal Americans.) The answer is religious-based social conservatism, which has been functioning as a blindfold for the stupider masses as long as politicians have been trying to find ways to get people to vote against their own self-interest, and this is the population that would identify itself as a majority with the election of Mitt Romney. These are the people I truly cannot stand, and those whose out-of-whack views are both furthest from my own and most threatening to my idea of progress.

I could be content to let their (probably fat) asses fill up the flyover states while remaining relatively cloistered in the liberal haven that is California, but to know these people make up a great enough proportion of the electorate as to help Romney assume the White House is to concede, in my mind, the idea that this country at large has my best interest at heart, or even possibly in mind at all. While that alone might not be enough for me to turn my back on America, it could potentially set us up for the kinds of sweeping steps backward many of those people would like to see, such as outlawing abortion or ramping up the war on drugs, among other things, which would eventually force my hand.

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It may be the case that the continued propagation of the two-party system in the U.S. has already led us down a road that will result in my eventually having to leave the country, but I genuinely hope that’s not the case. If I do leave, I want it to be for the experience rather than because America has gotten too far away from representing my values. One way or another, this specific election won’t change the fundamental flaws apparent in having only two viable, occasionally-indistinguishable-but-otherwise-completely-polarized parties warring over votes with boatloads of rich dudes’ cash, but for the sake of what it would mean about the state of our nation and about us as an electorate I sincerely hope Obama crushes that bitch.

Jeff Neuman

*-I have to make clear that I’ve never lived in any of these countries, and the only one I’ve been to is Canada. I created this list based on discussions I’ve had with others, expert analysis of the states of their democracies, and relatively extensive reading on the cultures of these countries, all coupled with my own individual sense of what makes a place liveable.**-As determined by their 9.8/10 Democracy Index score, measured by EIU by analyzing the answers to 60 questions about the country and it’s governmental operation.

Jeff Neuman is a freelance writer living in LA. Despite his current status as a wage-slave, Jeff is strongly committed to eventually earning the entirety of his income through his writing. He has covered myriad topics as a freelancer and in his personal writing, some of which can be found on his blog, Rants and More, at jeffneuman.blogspot.com. You can reach Jeff Neuman at: neumdog@gmail.com

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