The Ethics Of Threatening To Leave The Country…And Leaving It


Leaving the U.S. just because of the result of an election is an anti-American move for a citizen, a per se demonstration of poor character, ignorance, and a lack of understanding of history and how the government works. Primarily, it is an insult to everyone  in the country, the nation itself, and a rejection of the social compact.

We live in a republic where everyone agrees to participate in the process of government, and that means accepting the benefits, privileges, rights and the responsibilities flowing from that citizenship. Certainly anyone here has a right to try to live where they want to live. However, the nation is no different before an election than immediately after it.  If one doesn’t like living in American, I think you’re nuts, and obviously you don’t crave my association very much, but okay, bon voyage! The attitude of the post-election refugees, however, is “Democracy is only a good thing when I get my way.” Nope, that is not the deal.

If you are willing to accept what you think are the benefits of winning, then you are obligated to accept the results if you lose, and keep working to make your nation and society better as you and your like-minded citizens see it. Leaving after the votes are counted flunks the Kantian test: what would happen if everyone acted like that? It would make democracies unworkable, and ultimately extinct.

The ethical time to leave is before the election. Stupid, but ethical.

Speaking of stupidity, the current freakouts by people—including some of my close friends and relatives—demonstrate the ravages of civic ignorance. They are embarrassing. No, the election doesn’t mean “the end of legal abortions.” No, it doesn’t mean “the suspension of civil rights.” No it doesn’t mean that “Muslims will be put in camps,” or that there will be “mass deportations.” These kinds of wild apocalyptic claims are irresponsible, but mostly show a lack of comprehension of the law, the Presidency, the legislative process and the courts. Now, Donald Trump, who is similarly ignorant of our government and our legal system, may want to do some of these things, just as he may want to make the national language Swedish. But he can’t. If you think he can, your focus should be on improving the educational system, because it failed you mightily. As Barack Obama discovered to his chagrin, legislation is hard, takes skill and perseverance, and requires process,  moderation, compromise and broad consensus.

So the citizens who actually leave aren’t committed to democracy, have little pride in the culture and history of the United States, and when they don’t get what they want,  they pick up their marbles and quit. Good riddance. The nation is stronger and healthier without them. As for their less wealthy but more stout-hearted soulmates, those currently engaged in protesting the results of the election, the equivalent of a public hissy fit, they may have some societal value, eventually.

Maybe they’ll grow up.

And maybe not. “Not our President”Not our President”??? You see, children, that’s the bargain. He is your President, because that’s the deal you make with a democracy: you agree to accept the results of the election, whether you voted for the winner or not. Wait, wait, I’m so confused! Wasn’t one of the reasons you and your Party and your candidate’s media mouthpeices were saying that Trump was a Nazi was that he suggested that he might not “accept the results of the election”? Bill Maher, Professional Asshole, apologized to Bush, McCain and Romney last week for calling them fascists, because it was unfair—rump, he said, Trump is the real fascist!

I think I recognize who are acting like fascists, and the behavior fits the tactics of the party and the candidate they supported.

Yet I digress. For this post is not about those wan and selfish souls who do export themselves, but the rich and famous who threaten—promise, actually— to leave if their candidate doesn’t win. What’s going on with them?

Here are 20 celebrities who announced that they would leave the country if Donald Trump won, and, where appropriate, their claimed destination. The list doesn’t include people like Cher, Justice Ginsberg and Jon Stewart, who were obviously joking to make a point. It does include a couple of comics whose declarations had no humorous content and sounded serious. (#15 was a close call, since The View co-host actually said that she would leave if any Republican was nominated. Yes, she is an idiot.)

1. Amy Shumer

2. Chelsea Handler (Spain)

3. Neve Campbell (Canada)

4. Barry Diller

5. Lena Dunham (Canada)

6. Keegan-Michael Key (Canada)

7.  Chloë Sevigny ( Nova Scotia)

8. Al Sharpton

10. Eddie Griffin (Africa)

11. Amber Rose

12. Samuel L. Jackson (South Africa)

13. George Lopez (Mexico)

14. Barbra Streisand  (Australia or Canada)

15. Raven-Symoné (Canada)

16. Whoopi Goldberg

17. Omari Hardwick (Italy)

18. Miley Cyrus

19. George Stephanopoulos and wife Ali Wentworth (Australia)

20. Brian Cranston

Several ethics observations are germane:

…Were their promises to leave threats? In many cases it sounded like that’s what they intended. A threat? How astoundingly deluded, to think their presence is so vital to the nation that anyone would change a vote for President to ensure that it has the blessings of their availability. These people, all of them, are delusional, and of course as narcissistic as Trump. The intellectual and cultural life of the USA would be diminished not one iota if every one of these individuals moved to Togo, never mind Canada. What a warped sense of proportion and a deficit of humility they labor under!

….If it was meant as a threat, do they believe coercion and intimidation are fair and justifiable tactics in a democracy? Oh, sure they do: they are 21st Century Democrats and progressives, and the ends justify the means. You know, of the party whose chairman said she didn’t regret cheating. Whose former Senate majority leader said he was proud of a Big Lie because it worked. The ideology that fires professors and disciplines students for daring to “offend” with non-conforming speech and Halloween costumes.

…If not a threat, was it a bluff, a lie? Did they really ever intend to leave, or were they just posturing, grandstanding and using dishonesty to pretend to be more passionate, committed—and anti-American, which is often a virtue in their celebrity crowd—than they are?

…We shall see, won’t we? If they don’t leave, the rebuttable presumption is that they were lying to us in the first place, as I suspect every one of them were. This will show that they have the integrity of Hillary Clinton, that wonderful, virtuous candidate who was the most qualified for President in history—which is to say, very little.

Meanwhile, I am trying to find an instance of a prominent conservative or Republican who threatened to leave the country if a Democrat was elected President—Carter, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, or the corrupt and mendacious Mrs. Clinton. So far, I’ve failed. Why is that?

Why is it that they can accept the democratic decisions of their fellow citizens, and so many on the other side of the partisan divide cannot?


51 thoughts on “The Ethics Of Threatening To Leave The Country…And Leaving It

  1. Maybe these are promises we can get a court to enforce? I guess this is what was called “self-deportation” in the 2012 election?

  2. Jack asked, “Why is it that they can accept the democratic decisions of their fellow citizens, and so many on the other side of the partisan divide cannot?”

    I know you dislike Urban Dictionary, but it can be useful sometimes.

    Multiple reasons why the left has a problem accepting things…
    Character Code Error

    Ethical Flush

    Liberal Magical Thinking

    Morally Bankrupt

    Opinion Bigot

    Political Hack

    Political Tool

    The political left is one great big Political Hack Pack

          • From Jack: “Sure. But to be COMPLETELY fair, none of them that I know of threaten to leave the US if they lose.”

            No, but they have threatened armed revolt. Just ask any of the gun nut crowd what they would do if the government ever enacted legislation that might take their guns. I would rather deal with someone leaving the country if they don’t like the path it is following than some yee-haw that thinks he’s going to start a Civil War or a riot. And many dissenters within the government have vowed to block legislation from the politician or party they oppose. So really leaving the country seems a pretty innocuous solution to me. What is wrong with moving to a country that shares your values more closely? A lot of people are discouraged by the deep chasm that divides this country – it’s hard to see a way through it because it seems we have lost our middle/moderate grounding. It used to be our political spectrum was lens shaped with a small fringe on each end tapering to a wide center. Now we are more of a dog-bone, heck we are almost two circles with no connection at all.

            I think the difficulties of this election will be repeated in the future, not because politicians are any worse now than they have been for the last 200 years, but because technology now lets you know EVERYTHING. From your childhood on – there is now a digital trail following all, and especially those in politics, that now threatens to indict nearly all, and if some individual manages to be such a paragon of holiness and perfection to not have dirt to dig up, then their family or friends will….or some tech person with nefarious intentions will manipulate the data.

            With domestic and International terrorism a huge threat, and a disenfranchised and progressively less educated public that does not understand the way government works – manipulated by both conservative and liberal media and special interest political groups and using social media to find others of like mind, confirmation bias is a powerful thing – the danger to our leaders and their families and the criticism and scrutiny they and their families live under would frighten all away from the job except the most narcissistic and megalomaniacal.

            Who knows what potential scandals the public was blissfully ignorant of in the past, especially the time before the internet and before that, television? Sometimes I can’t help but wish we could go back to a simpler time when someone had to meet you face to face to destroy you instead of doing it in their underwear at 3 in the morning on their laptop. When private conversations remained private and letters and notes could be burned and never recovered. Is that putting my head in the sand, or just embarrassment and shame at feeling a voyeur and judge of these people’s lives?

            It used to be parents would be proud of their children aspiring to the presidency, now they should be terrified. I predict the pool of politicians who make the move for POTUS will get rapidly smaller and smaller and the quality will be poorer and poorer and eventually we will have to make it an appointment or reform the whole system of governance.

            • Threatening armed revolt is no anything like leaving the country. If anything, it is the opposite. It stands for the Jeffersonian principle that a human being has the right to oppose unjust authority.If the government tries to confiscate guns, it should face an armed revolt. And the fact that this a real possibility is one, among many, reasons that’s not going to happen.

            • Lisa Weber said, “Just ask any of the gun nut crowd what they would do if the government ever enacted legislation that might take their guns.”

              You simply do not understand the purpose of the 2nd Amendment; come back after you’ve been educated.

  3. Precisely. People predicting that Roe vs Wade and gay marriage law will be overturned, that Trump would appoint someone to the Supreme Court to ‘tie it up for our lifetimes’, and that nuclear war is just around the corner were out in force on FB today. It was mind-boggling….frantic posts telling women to get IUD’s ‘while you still can’, previously anti-gun folks pondering getting a firearm, it’s just bizarre and sad. They have no idea how the government works. I just had a LONG messenger conversation with my sister about a week ago, with her saying if Trump won he’d set the clock back decades. I explained checks and balances, the safeguards built into the system, and that the a new Supreme Court Justice cannot just go over past decisions and overturn them willy-nilly (and I got a refresher in that aspect here a few weeks ago, thank you very much!) , she seemed relieved. That seems to be the most glaring misunderstanding, is that a new Justice can just go through and overturn whatever they disagree with…

    Of course Hillary fuelled this in part by saying things like “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” She planted the idea that Trump could just do whatever he wanted, and ride roughshod over the nation.

    • You raise an interesting point, Crella. Does the President have the authority to unilaterally initiate a nuclear strike? If so, under what circumstances. I’m sure Jack or many commentors know the answer. Thanks.

      • I do not believe so, but as I’m no expert, I could be completely wrong. It doesn’t make sense at all, though, to have something that dangerous at the decree of a single person. People can be bought and can lose their minds, so I have always thought that nukes would be guarded by layers of protocol and safeguards.

    • Good points, all. I saw a great many Facebook memes complaining about how Trump wants us not to understand how the Supreme Court works. I would argue that the Democrats have been just as vigilant in not educating Americans on how many aspects of government, including the Supreme Court, works.

      • It’s actually extremely frightening that most of these folks have graduated High School and College and have no practical knowledge of just how the US Government works. This is the fatal failure of the education system; to turn out students with the civic knowledge required to be a responsible citizen, and frankly, to not be too stupid to vote. Anyone with a lick of education or common sense understood that all that talk about Trump was political jack-assery, designed to frighten people by telling them stuff he was going to do, that would never happen.

  4. This happens every election and I don’t know of a single one who’s actually left.

    The truth is: It is far more difficult to leave one’s home country than people like to think it is. And they will find, if they do leave, that other countries not being the United States isn’t always a good thing.

    There’s a reason why Syrian refugees and the downtrodden of Central America want to come here, after all.

    We are so accustomed to our liberties and lifestyles that it’s easy to forget that even countries like Canada have restrictions on speech, for example, that we don’t have here.

    Additionally, most of them have varying degrees of immigration laws that will have to be met, some of them far more stringent than we have. And, yes, those laws will be enforced in a great many countries.

    Also, I hope Eddie Griffin chooses wisely when it comes to moving to that unnamed African country. Some of those nations could put violence in Chicago and Baltimore to shame.

    • Yeah, Canada has zero illegal immigration. They are very selective in their multiculturalism. Everyone is vetted. No way they’re taking Miley.

  5. I think this is mostly arrogance. These celebrities have been conditioned to believe that what they think and say matters to the rest of the world. In fact, their self image depends on maintaining that illusion. They’re terrified that they might not be the big deal they think they are. Remember, Cain killed Abel because he thought Abel made him look bad. The human heart hasn’t changed all that much since then.

  6. “The intellectual and cultural life of the USA would be diminished not one iota if every one of these individuals moved to Togo, never mind Canada. ”

    Amen, and amen! Of course I doubt that any of them will actually leave. Also, funny how they never threaten to move to Mexico, or to Cuba or Venezuela for that matter. Sharpton probably has his lawyers searching for a suitable location with no extradition treaty with the US.
    If it actually happened, maybe this exodus of celebrities would spawn a new “house hunting” reality show, for those inclined to watch such things. Even if they moved, I wonder how many would go so far as to renounce their US citizenship. Few, I would wager.

    • I see an updated remake of “The Odd Couple.” “Al and Barbara.” Streisand and Sharpton and their respective entourages move into a compound somewhere more enlightened? North Korea? Maybe it could be a reality show, “Oy, Brother?” Maybe everyone on the list could be on the show? Someone would get voted out each week? It could be HUGE. Maybe our President will produce it?

  7. Wealthy privileged elites want to use their money to ensure the livelihood they’ve grown accustomed to doesn’t change simultaneously abandoning the poor they claim to care about?

    Wait, I thought only the brown-shirt republicans thought that way…?

  8. Wait.;.. wait guys… No. No… Just wait a minute.

    On behalf of all Canadians…. You keep your garbage. We don’t want it. We already have Jim Carrey and Justin Bieber. No more room.


  9. How long does it take to get an unconstitutional law overturned? How long does it take for a case to wind its way to the SCOTUS?

    How many blatantly unconstitutional actions by the Obama administration are still going through the process of legal challenge? It’s all very well to say that a law is unconstitutional, but if it’s on the books and being enforced until the SCOTUS rules in many years time, that doesn’t help much.

    Right now, many Trans people are hurriedly applying for passports while they’re still allowed to. I really, really doubt they’ll have to use them. Just don’t see it. Too much legal inertia. There are due orocess issues, 30 day consultations… But as I’ve found, if these get ignored there’s no actual penalties to the administrators, just a reversal years in the future.

    The only ones I recommend should make preparations to flee are the parents of Trans and Intersex children. There are still laws on the books, not enforced now, allowing their children to be removed and given reparative therapy by recognised (though not medically qualified) institutions, as used to happen 30 or 40 years ago. Not many cases then, few were in the limelight, and it wasn’t a big political issue. Now it is.

    There will be plenty of advanced warning though, and this is only a contingency. Adults don’t have to worry.

    Pence putting in a religious extremist senior member of an anti-GLBT hate group in charge of the domestic transition team examining the departments of energy, environmental protection, labor, transportation, health and human services, housing and urban development, interior and agriculture is a bit of a worry though. Even Huckabee or Cruz would have been unlikely to do that. Too extreme.

  10. Celebrities? They’re grandstanding. Whistling in the dark.

    But… There are people who are truly frightened by the election outcome. And truly depressed. The Presidency isn’t just about making policy and declarations, as you know. The President of the United States is symbolic and emblematic of the citizens of the country. Our newly elected president, if symbolic and emblematic, displays to the world that Americans are vulgar, ignorant, narcissists. This is unacceptable. And, to top it off, this person and Congress are in complete control of the NDAA.

    I am very close to someone who feels that there is no hope, who tearfully confessed contemplating suicide by hanging. I tried explaining that the weight of the American Democratic Republic will prevent the new president and his minions from doing much harm. The spectre of the NDAA, though, looms too large for this person.

    My only fear… The idea that “it” can’t happen here is, I fear, not so obvious any more. I am trying to remain optimistic and realistic, but I wait and watch cautiously.

    • Patrice said, “I am very close to someone who feels that there is no hope, who tearfully confessed contemplating suicide by hanging.”

      Never take contemplating suicide lightly, get that person some professional help immediately.

    • And this is what the scaremongering does to the ignorant and weakminded, to be brutally blunt, and why they need to cut it out. Anyone who seriously sees parallels between Trump and Hitler understands neither, nor the historical context, nor the two nations. Hitler rose because the Germans, who always had wanted a strongman, were desperate and their self-esteem had been destroyed. Americans got tired of being pushed around, lectured too, and being told that traditional cultural values made them racists and xenophobes. They decided to say “screw that” by electing a protest candidate whose sole function was to be a human thumb in the eye, because he was so disgusting to the people who had pretended to be their betters. Don’t you understand? It’s idiotic, but the message isn’t. It’s Animal House! and Animal House is as American as Doolittle’s Raid:

      Otter:…Bluto’s right. Psychotic… but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!

      Bluto: We’re just the guys to do it.

      In Germany, Th Big Cheese says jump and the Germans say “How high?” In the US, the response is “Fuck you!” Obama never understood that. He and the Democrats are finally getting the “fuck you!” they have been asking for. I love that about America. And much as I hate the idea of an idiot being President, I do love the message and who it was sent to. America still has has spunk.

      I love spunk.

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