We Don’t Know How to Warn You Any Harder. America is Dying.
September 1, 2020 12:28 PM   Subscribe

 
I am grateful for them to speak about this: as the piece admits, when they speak out, they suffer.

I keep remembering a visit I took to East Berlin as a teen-ager. It was so weird to me that everyone simply accepted this free city being embedded in an authoritarian state, butting up against the flank of Europe. It was disorienting more than frightening at the time. Now that I'm older I wish I had looked around a little more closely.

But now...I don't really see a place where I as a citizen have any leverage on an entire political system. This piece confirm my fears, but I don't see any suggestions in it.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:39 PM on September 1 [29 favorites]


The other day my parents, who fled the Islamic Revolution and came to the USA (and have always poopooed all of our stress at US politics, comparing it to their own worst case scenario), asked my sister and I what our exit strategies were for when November inevitably goes sideways.

Worse, my sister and I both already have our lists of options ready to go. It is an unbelievably bizarre feeling to think that I might actually be following in my parents footsteps in this way.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:46 PM on September 1 [98 favorites]


Every time someone idly complains about Trump, ask them what they are doing about it. Are you donating or volunteering? How much is it worth to you that Trump loses? Would a new car give you more joy than the everpresent dread of living in a madman's head? For a large number of people who have never been involved in the political process, donating to political parties and volunteering is a foreign concept, despite knowing a fascist is ready to destroy their biracial family or deport their grandmother.
posted by benzenedream at 12:51 PM on September 1 [28 favorites]


I hope everyone is ready to be in the streets by the end of Nov because Trump ain't going quietly. He's flat out told his true believers that any election outcome that doesn't have him winning is rigged.
posted by photoslob at 1:04 PM on September 1 [17 favorites]


I feel like this is preaching to the choir, and MetaFilter is such a hope-free community in the first place that all it's done is confirm our worst fears. That's not to say it's not true, though. Just ... it increasingly feels like we're passengers on a runaway train, and good for you if you have options and exit strategies, but a lot of us don't. All we can do is adopt the brace position and hope we survive.
posted by wanderingmind at 1:04 PM on September 1 [126 favorites]


I'm donating and volunteering. It doesn't mean shit. As an individual I have zero power here. The people who DO have power are ... inexplicably... doing nothing. The GoP are actively complicit, so forget them. But what's wrong with the other members of congress and the house of representatives? Why aren't they on strike in the House and the capitol, using the power of their elected office to oppose this fascist? I think it's time for a campaign to call our reps and our congresspeople and demand that they go on strike, demanding that members of this administration who have been proven to flout the law (and/or obstruct legislative work entirely, a la McConnell) should step down and be held accountable. In asking our representatives to take direct action -- THAT is where we have power.
posted by MiraK at 1:05 PM on September 1 [44 favorites]


I am 52. I think that I am too old to emigrate anywhere without family sponsorship...and all of my family is here. (That or having really in-high-demand special skills, which...again, no. I'm a tech writer and I'm a very good one; but I'm not so unique that countries would clamour for my skills and be thrilled to let me in just on the basis of my professional skillset.)

I probably should have tried to get out when Trump was elected. But my mom was going through a huge medical crisis, and I was severely underemployed at the time, and-and-and.
posted by Tailkinker to-Ennien at 1:10 PM on September 1 [19 favorites]


The authoritarian’s numbers rose in the polls.

To quote the dang article linked by Haque, emphasis added:
Voters’ concerns about the coronavirus have fallen and President Donald Trump’s approval rating has ticked higher in six swing states over the last two weeks, according to a new CNBC/Change Research
In other words, Umair Haque is cherry picking things again. More generally, he is doing that thing he does where he writes a dang article full of overheated prose about the world being aflame and how he’s the prophet who called it, with absolutely nil specifics. I’m not averse to this kind of thinking, but there are better sources for it: Shape your dang fears!
posted by Going To Maine at 1:11 PM on September 1 [61 favorites]


Donate, volunteer, and most importantly, vote. Voting is the only mechanism we have to get Trump out of office. Vote and do what you can to encourage others to vote. That is why gerrymandering. That is why the USPS is getting disassembled. That is why misinformation is distributed on a daily basis. If we don't vote Trump out of office, we are well and truly fucked.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:11 PM on September 1 [13 favorites]


We know. At least I know. And all the people close to me know. What the fuck are we supposed to do about it? The election results only matter if he wins because it gives him the mandate he's hoping for. If he doesn't, the fascists in power will do everything they can to overturn the results and they'll probably be successful if Bush vs Gore has any precedent. We are fucked. Most of us on the receiving end of this article know we are fucked. The rest either don't care or are relishing the coming tide of brutality and hatred. Sorry to be a downer and be the cranky old man that I'm probably becoming but I can't hold it in anymore
posted by treepour at 1:20 PM on September 1 [41 favorites]


Our parents fled from collapsing societies to America. And here, now, in a grim and eerie repeat of history, we see the scenes of our childhoods played out all over again.

Fled.

Not to downplay concern about the incredible anomalous 3.5 years of wackadoodle and real harm, but other than a few "heading for Canada if he wins" forum comments, I have not seen massive or even slightly significant, or actually any, movement towards emigration.

I'm convinced this will be seen as a historical anomaly. Rehashed with head scratching for years . The rule of law will be upheld by all segments of the government. The military will not be executing a coup. Our Generals will quietly ignore any requests by the current president to remain in office this coming January.

Do encourage everyone to VOTE!
posted by sammyo at 1:25 PM on September 1 [35 favorites]


From your lips to God’s ears, sammyo.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:37 PM on September 1 [25 favorites]


Not to downplay concern about the incredible anomalous 3.5 years of wackadoodle and real harm, but other than a few "heading for Canada if he wins" forum comments, I have not seen massive or even slightly significant, or actually any, movement towards emigration.

I think this is a sincere way to try and adress these kinds of concerns:
  • Last time I checked 538, the President had a 30% chance of being reelected.
  • If the President is reelected, how likely do you think it is that everything will go to hell? Call that x
  • If the President loses to Joe Biden, how likely do you think it is that there will be some kind of radical violence by three percenters / patriot prayer / etc.? How likely do you think it is that there will be armed response by the state or the left? How likely is it that those responses will be protracted? How likely is it that it will be close to you? Call that ill-defined value y
  • (.3 x x) + (.7 x y) is how likely it is that you think things will go bad. If that value is higher than you feel comfortable with, maybe you need an exit strategy.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:38 PM on September 1 [13 favorites]


Introducing math to my fears is both comforting and terrifying.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:40 PM on September 1 [46 favorites]


Whenever I read Umair Haique, he makes me want to give up. He's great at telling you things are terrible. He's terrible at telling you what can be done. As a matter of fact, he really makes it feel like you can't do a fucking thing. The only thing I'm getting from this is "flee now." Which, in the middle of a pandemic where most borders are closed and the government is not renewing passports, is fucking unhelpful advice.
posted by rednikki at 1:44 PM on September 1 [73 favorites]


I've heard "let's try herd immunity" as a right-wing talking point for months now, and now coming from Trump's new favorite Covid advisor, it makes me worried.

The secure.actblue.com confirmation message makes me feel a little better (tho it needs a little sound effect or something)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:48 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


I just signed up for Postcards to Voters, and plan to write postcards to voters in key states until my fingers fall off. Better that than anxiously chewing my fingernails off.
posted by vverse23 at 1:49 PM on September 1 [25 favorites]


I think Umair has had a powerful, insightful, and valuable voice much of the time....but these last two years or so, I've just about given up on him. It's essentially the same article again and again, and while his despair has good reason, ultimately it's always an unfocused exhortation for somebody to do something. Kids in cages? Umar rages, despairs, demands that somebody should do something. Nevermind the people out in the desert heat protesting those facilities at the border - they don't count, or don't count enough, apparently. Unchecked police brutality? The same thing - nevermind that major cities have seen people out in the streets protesting for literally months now. Somebody should do something!

In this one, he's actually (a little) more specific than usual about who he thinks should do something, and what he thinks they should do:

People didn’t pour into the streets of the capitol, by the millions. The nation’s intellectuals and columnists didn’t call for the head of state’s resignation. The opposition didn’t immediately start a global movement to observe these abuses of power.

Once again, the millions of people who have poured into the streets (including the streets of DC) get given pretty short shrift by Umair, probably because those protests haven't altered our breakneck path towards fascism - there's even a case to be made that those protests are (unintentionally) aiding it by giving Trump a boogeyman to wave at (and aim white supremacist terrorist groups at) and a campaign issue to focus attention on other than his absolutely shit handling of Covid-19. So other than protesting, what to do? We're not pundits. We're not people in power in the opposition party (though I'm certainly deeply disappointed in Nancy Pelosi's utter, utter toothlessness in the face of a crumbling democracy). I'm just a guy who lives in an already solidly blue (and tiny) state. I already grasp the seriousness of the situation. What else does Umair have to offer me but heightened despair?

At some point, you have to make a choice: you either believe that voting in November has a chance of saving our democracy, in which case, you do everything you can to get out the vote and make sure Trump loses in a landslide. Or you don't believe the results of that election can possibly save our democracy - as Umair seems not to - in which case you're left hoping for some deux ex machina that has yet to appear at any point in the past four years, or prepping for a literal civil war. I choose to believe that the election this November can still work - maybe that's naively optimistic, but believing it keeps me sane and functional, as opposed to those alternatives, which don't seem to be doing much good for anyone who I've seen try them, Umair included.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:56 PM on September 1 [42 favorites]


This article is no different from the hundreds I’ve read over the last 3.75 years, along with thousands of social posts, proclaiming This Is The End. And you know what? No, it actually isn’t. Yes, many and terrible things have happened of late, and many people have died who did not have to, but we are still here. Many people continue to resist, including the adults in government who every so often get irritated and swat down some stupid shit that Trump/cronies try to pull. It is tiring, and daily life is harder now, but the U.S. is still trucking along, warts and all. Look around for the people doing the good work, follow their lead, stay calm, and help support a massive voter turnout.
posted by cupcakeninja at 1:56 PM on September 1 [40 favorites]




Silent majority? The silent majority wants to shop at a Target that's not on fire and are fine with Trump because he's promising that.

I kind of don't understand the point of this article. The people the author defines as "real" Americans aren't going to read it and it's certainly not generating any excitement about getting out the vote or taking other actions. I don't need this dude to tell me everything is shit and about to get worse.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:59 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


Haque, like another minority background voice I know of in the UK, is terrified because his world, as he sees it right now, is the anglosphere going to hell in a handbasket, and it has the death toll to prove it. Many who found freedom of expression in their adopted homelands are seeing the future as bleak with clarity, given the structural inequities and inequalities that the pandemic has clearly shown us to be a literal matter of life or death. Nobody is looking out for PoC and their futures. Nobody is speaking up on what needs to be done to right the wrongs of systematic discrimination and systemic exclusion.

Going To Maine, all your points are valid, and while it is true that foreign shores have mean little to the insular American culture, accustomed as it is to projecting soft power in screens around the world, this past weekend's events, as very well captured by Haque - "nothing" - have been a slap in the face wake up call to the rest of the world.

The global fallout's full implications will begin seeping through at some point, I'm sure. But here's a snippet of news that seems to point to where its going


Despite U.S. Pressure, Europeans Remain 'United' With Russia and China to 'Preserve' Iran Nuclear Deal, Diplomats Say

Top Chinese arms-control envoy says all sides reaffirmed JCPOA commitment and that Beijing and Moscow could join EU's Instex payment channel to boost economic benefits to Iran while avoiding U.S. sanctions {text via}
posted by infini at 2:05 PM on September 1 [9 favorites]


Exit strategy, haha. My immune system has me trapped in my apartment most of the time, my degree is specific to the US, and it's likely that any country I'd want to live in would refuse to take me because of my disability issues, never mind that I don't have a passport or the money to leave. I'm in the process of getting signed up to phone bank for Biden, the least exciting candidate of all time, and harassing my friends to do the same. This is all so, so terrifying.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:12 PM on September 1 [23 favorites]


"the least exciting candidate of all time"

How could we forget John Kerry?!

A: Because he was the least exciting candidate of all time.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:26 PM on September 1 [70 favorites]


Voting and GOTV programs are great, they could help delay the coming break point and that is important.

But whether or not the election goes wrong, local community bonds are the best defense against an increasingly violent right wing. Even with the reprieve of a Biden/Harris administration, strong community organization can harden your local area against the radical right and the police that support them.

So get on calls with non-fascist family, friends, and neighbors. Come up with ways to look out for each other, including ways you can defend or hide each other. Get involved in mutual aid programs and other solidarity-type groups if you can and haven't yet. If you know activists, especially those in BLM, offer them support and protection if you haven't already and you can. Don't spend too much time on social media or following polls obsessively if it paralyzes you or burns you out.

I'm scared as hell too.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 2:33 PM on September 1 [23 favorites]


Well, I can tell you what not to do. Don't vote by mail, especially if you live in a red state. Those votes will be "lost" (shredded) and they'll never count. Trump has made it quite clear that if he's ahead for three minutes on election night he plans to declare victory, so we can't give him those three minutes. This needs to be an absolute landslide, a victory large enough that Trump and his goons can't budge the needle and steal this thing.

I'd suggest checking out this Ask Metafilter thread. I'm gonna do some work with Vote Save America and "adopt a state."

I like Al Gore, but I've never forgiven him for caving when he did in 2000. We've been paying for it ever since. Biden is a scrappier character than Gore and it's hard to imagine him accepting an obviously rigged election, but there are all kinds of ways the next few months could go very wrong. I never thought America would descend into full-out civil war in my lifetime but it feels like a real possibility now.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:34 PM on September 1 [36 favorites]


Nevermind the people out in the desert heat protesting those facilities at the border - they don't count, or don't count enough, apparently.

They obviously do not, because their protest is not changing the thing they want to have changed. It's a little funny that you (and others in the thread criticizing him for essentially the same thing) characterize Haque as saying that somebody should do something when you're saying the same thing! Somebody should write some article offering me a path to Effective Action. But...what if there is no such path! People are very unwilling to accept the idea that in fact they have almost no power to affect change in this system, but as far as I can tell, it's true!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:38 PM on September 1 [14 favorites]


I don't need this dude to tell me everything is shit and about to get worse.

It turns out I ... kind of do?

I've never given much money to candidates. I give a lot of money to organizations like the ACLU and KIND and Common Cause that focus directly on civil rights issues, and that's felt more rewarding to me than giving to candidates. You have to pick priorities that work for you, right? And my other priorities are important ones.

But those are long term investments; they assume a durable civil society to improve. What we have now, between Trump, Putin, Fox News, QAnon, and the pandemic, is a recipe for America to immediately, permanently become something much worse. The path to ending America, and what will wear its skin afterward, is very clear.

But also hard to believe. It's tempting to look around at all the people not panicking, and feel like I must be misunderstanding. It helps to hear other people -- and articles like this -- saying, no, you're right. This is really happening, and it is happening now.

And I don't feel hopeless, because ... the exact inverse of the mathematics of exit strategies is the mathematics of hope. There's a good chance of winning the election; of institutions transferring power; of a real investigation that unwinds our path to fascism. It's worth spending my time and money to improve those odds, and it is specifically more important than other vitally-important or nice-to-have stuff I'm working on that depends on civil society still existing in a few years.

"Yeah, but what do we do about it?" is a hard question in some ways, but an easy question in others: the answer is to pick up whatever makeshift tool (like Joe Biden!) is closest to hand and use it as hard as you can on whatever part of the problem looks most likely, to you, to improve our odds. Reach out and let friends and family know what you're seeing and that it's real, tell them what you're doing, and find out what they're doing and how you can help.
posted by john hadron collider at 2:42 PM on September 1 [27 favorites]


If you find yourself extremely overwhelmed and despondent about "what can I do," I highly recommend joining an organization, especially one with a high-level of comrade-ery like DSA, the Sunrise Movement, or the volunteer team for a politician you strongly believe in. It's energizing to know that there are many other people who share your values and that you are not alone in the fight. You will also be more effective, because these groups will have access to more tools and resources than you as an individual will. Instead of just registering people to vote, for instance, you will be able to target specific populations to register and have sophisticated tools for reaching them.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:44 PM on September 1 [15 favorites]


There's a good chance of winning the election; of institutions transferring power; of a real investigation that unwinds our path to fascism.

That's not one thing, it's three. They need to happen one at a time. And I would classify their chances as good, fair and poor at best.

How do we make #3 happen? First we make #1 happen. Then we scream as loudly as we can until #2 happens. Then we never stop screaming and we hope to god that it works. Because if it DOES work, the instant that the pressure is off, the instant that decorum is restored and anyone on the GOP side of the administration / Senate is forgiven, the centrists will resume their previous path that put us where we are today.
posted by delfin at 2:51 PM on September 1 [16 favorites]


While I respect this guy's points I am also noticing that he's doing that "Focusing on SJW identity politics is not stopping the tide of fascism and hte Left is all wrong" thing, plus also a weird "The IMF is good and opposing global neoliberalism is what the Left got wrong, and that's why we have fascism today" angle. I am skeptical of people like this that position themselves as people telling hard and brutal truths to an audience that needs to hear them -- some parts of the analysis might be true, but this analysis doesn't seem to engage with any actual left or liberal political organizing in a substantial way that I would expect from someone going "Holy shit, fascism is bad, let's stop fascism."
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 2:53 PM on September 1 [10 favorites]


I've gotten a lot of hope out of giving money to Movement.vote, an organization that funnels (100 percent of) your donations to a big variety of minority and lgbtqia+ led community groups that are working to get out the vote in battleground states. This means your money goes to things like salaries for organizers rather than tv ads, and it's a great way to support communities that face the most risk from a Trump reelection. They have a dedicated 501c3 fund in case your employer matches things like that.
posted by heyforfour at 2:53 PM on September 1 [17 favorites]


Gonna be honest, I kinda feel that people who write like Haque are secretly accelerationists, trying to convince the hopeful that they're losers for being hopeful. That gas pedal won't hit the floor by itself, ya know.
posted by aramaic at 3:00 PM on September 1 [26 favorites]


It's a little funny that you (and others in the thread criticizing him for essentially the same thing) characterize Haque as saying that somebody should do something when you're saying the same thing! Somebody should write some article offering me a path to Effective Action.

Except that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that Umair's stuck in this spot because he chooses to believe the most obvious avenue for Effective Action (voting)....won't be effective. In which case, you're right: there's no way to effect change. So if there's no way to effect change, why even bother writing articles about it? All it does is spread despair. Umair is, functionally, working against the result he wants - the defeat of fascism - by preaching despair with no solutions. It's not any different than the folks who present global warming as unimaginably apocalyptic - it doesn't galvanize people to take action against global warming, it makes them give up. If Umair wants to change the trajectory this country is on, he has to offer hope, that's step 1.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:04 PM on September 1 [12 favorites]


Well, I can tell you what not to do. Don't vote by mail, especially if you live in a red state. Those votes will be "lost" (shredded) and they'll never count.

JFC that is NOT TRUE. That is straight-up conspiracy theory talk which has no place in this discussion. Voting is an intensely local event that the local election committees take very seriously. Nobody is going to shred your ballot. Why do you think Trump is trying to discredit it? Answer: because it works. If you don't trust the USPS, you can hand-deliver your ballot.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:05 PM on September 1 [127 favorites]


Umair Haque is an economist, he first gained attention as a critic of the dotcom era, and he is brilliant. As a well-educated guy who publishes often in Harvard's Business Review, he has readers who form the elite of American university thinking, and I think that's who he's really talking to when he says do something, he's not talking to average people, he's asking his fellow highly educated academics, and the powerful DotCom people who read him to wake up.
posted by chaz at 3:05 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


That gas pedal won't hit the floor by itself, ya know.

On the other hand, there isn't a lot of strong, compelling historical evidence that the fascist genie goes back into the bottle without bullets, either.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:07 PM on September 1 [14 favorites]


Umair Haque is an economist

Hot take: that's always a pretty compelling reason to ignore someone's hot takes.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:17 PM on September 1 [15 favorites]


Ppl are talking about emigrating but are any countries even letting Americans in?
posted by gucci mane at 3:24 PM on September 1 [14 favorites]


there are better sources for it

Alongside Masha Gessen, Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa's Gaslit Nation has a provided a wealth of advice for action in the face of this kleptocratic groundswell of autocracy for years now - and been predictably, relentlessly heckled/ignored.
posted by progosk at 3:31 PM on September 1 [26 favorites]


Here they are talking with Alexander Petri about it
Alexandra, actually - two amazing voices, thanks so much for this link!

posted by progosk at 3:38 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


I took a walk and came back to argue something specific that mstokes650 called out pretty well. But I will add to it.

The argument of, "The problem is that no one is protesting! Well, yes, they are protesting, but the problem is that no one went to THIS SPECIFIC PLACE to protest THIS PARTICULAR SHOOTING at THIS PARTICULAR PROTEST!" Congress is on holiday, the President is out, and news media ignores the ongoing protests unless someone gets shot, because they're stripped bare and not traveling due to the pandemic. A million people could protest in DC and it would be ignored unless there was a death toll.

It is a weird mirror version of the way people keep telling people of color, "Yes, you can protest, but you have to do it the right way. No, not like that. Or like that either."

Yeah, maybe he's trying to reach people of the dotcom set, but I follow a lot of those dotcom people and they don't read him. When he shows up in my timeline it's because uber-lefty people have liked or reblogged him, not because anyone in the dotcom set has. And every time, it's accompanied by some sort of learned-helplessness reaction. A couple of weeks ago I watched a very active friend of mine give up entirely because of one of Haique's pieces. I managed to talk him out of it but I haven't yet seen his reaction to this one.

Someone close to me once went into a depressive tailspin and tried to take me down with him. This feels like that, but for anyone who wants to fight against Trump. (I feel similarly about Michael Moore.)
posted by rednikki at 3:40 PM on September 1 [31 favorites]


> Well, I can tell you what not to do. Don't vote by mail, especially if you live in a red state. Those votes will be "lost" (shredded) and they'll never count.

> JFC that is NOT TRUE. That is straight-up conspiracy theory talk which has no place in this discussion. Voting is an intensely local event that the local election committees take very seriously. Nobody is going to shred your ballot. Why do you think Trump is trying to discredit it? Answer: because it works. If you don't trust the USPS, you can hand-deliver your ballot.


I'm planning on returning my mail-in ballot to a polling drop-box, rather than mailing it back, even if that's just for my own peace of mind. What I'm more concerned about it is whether the blank ballots will actually be fully delivered (and on time) before the election. Or if they'll be delayed long enough to ensure they won't all be delivered back to the polling sites before the election. When you look at the gutting of the USPS, which appears to keep happening despite hearings and media coverage, it's pretty reasonable to be a bit paranoid.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 3:42 PM on September 1 [11 favorites]


Well to add some anxiety to your day, Democratic leaning Virginia, now has Kanye on the ballot, so now I guess I gotta get out there and vote. And here I was worried about Pennsylvania.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:52 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


He makes pretty sweeping generalizations about people who escaped authoritarian regimes. The few people I know from the old USSR and similar places are hardcore Trump supporters.

I also agree that the hyperbole does him a disservice. The majority of Americans don’t want looting and destruction and are probably not that bent out of shape with those people being arrested or even roughed up a bit. I am absolutely not in that camp but trying to convince voters that “people are really mad at inequality so they had to steal TVs” is a fools’ game. So we need to play a bit of the Law and Order game, at least to win the election. And I do believe that a solid Biden victory is possible.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:58 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


I mean, I agree he doesn't offer much in terms of how to fight back, but in terms of hyperbole-level I've been reading and supporting Sarah Kendzior for years and don't see much difference between their overarching assessments of the situation and the threat level.
posted by Roach at 4:20 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


Twelve? years ago when I met my wife, one of the questions I asked her was whether or not she would be interested in traveling overseas and finding work elsewhere if the opportunity presented itself. Long story short, kids. She built a small business. House. The discussion died somewhere a long time ago.

Then Coronavirus and our president's response, and the near death blows my wife's business has been struck. The kids were challenged enough with home schooling last year, and it looks like we may be headed that way again in the fall.

So. A few nights ago - she brought it up, prompted by a discussion on mail in voting and how expat voting works. What would it look like if she officially closed up shop? If we sold the house? If we home schooled the kids as nomads - given that I _can_ work from just about anywhere. Suddenly it isn't Canada or the UK that is on the stage - it is the world - the whole damn thing. We discussed expat voting, we discussed changes to our lives, whether it would be better for our health, whether there is *something* *anything* better than this (yes, was the quick conclusion).

So. we're starting to look at this as an honest to goodness exit strategy - that no family ties are worth the state of the American political system. And yes, we've started the research as a plan B which is kicked into overdrive in the event that November 4th, if we are in a divisive political position - that yes... it may indeed be time to move on.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:21 PM on September 1 [8 favorites]


i think we should fear chaos - there are too many people with agendas that are an excuse for violence or grabbing power - i think the US is too big and varied to fall under one authoritarian state, but a hodge-podge of various repressive or rebellious or calm areas - i see a lot of pointless attacks on the street - pointless, because it won't change anything, unlike voting or possibly some protests

i think we all should be looking closest at what's going on in our area - does it seem that things are calm? are the authorities handling things well? - what are the police to do about people coming from outside of our community to fight in our community? - are there plans to help people who have no jobs and can't pay rent or anything?

the national situation is important - but we're in danger of missing things that could really mess things up, where we live
posted by pyramid termite at 4:34 PM on September 1 [8 favorites]


Can we please acknowledge that not everyone has a viable exit strategy and that it might seem a little like gloating to talk about the fact that you have one, even if you don't intend it that way? Sorry, I'm salty and raw today and will see myself out of this thread. Much love to everyone in these fearsome times!
posted by treepour at 4:34 PM on September 1 [46 favorites]


I consider democracy already dead as of this summer.

One faction has announced that the electoral process is suspect, tainted by mail-in voting (people sending fake ballots or grabbing ballots out of mailboxes or some shit, I'm not even sure) and that they do not feel obligated to accept a loss.

Another faction has announced that the electoral process is suspect, tainted by mail-in voting (a conspiracy at the post office to delay or lose the ballots) and that they do not feel obligated to accept a loss.

The signs are that the military sides with Biden. There you go!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:37 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


My American-born partner and I had The Talk last night, actually, prompted by a concerned email from my sister back home (where I came to the US from)
posted by stevil at 4:39 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Nth-ing the endorsement of Gaslit Nation, and more specifically, their Action Guide.

If someone is looking for concrete suggestions of what to do next, it offers a number of suggestions.
posted by FallibleHuman at 4:41 PM on September 1 [17 favorites]


Lucy Diavolo has an article in Teen Vogue with a calmer tone, more links and the exact same message. Ordinarily, I would agree that Haque can be hyperbolic and a bit sloppy (even when he's correct) but his tone here is entirely warranted and appropriate. I am sorry. Seriously, do not vote by mail (especially in red states) and if you can, get out. US democracy looks ready to collapse. Do not assume things will be fine. Do not rely on authorities or institutions to help. They are nearly done, if not actively working toward authoritarianism.

For those wringing hands and asking what we can do, the painfully honest answer is very likely nothing but here is the report by the Transition Integrity Project on scenarios of a "disrupted" presidential election. There are some broad ideas that are applicable to what ordinary people can do that cut a bit deeper than "vote" or "phonebank" or "donate." The most important thing to take away here is to be prepared for the more dire scenarios - be aware of them, be aware that they are possibilities, be able to prepare plans as individuals and organizations in response to them. I can not tell you what is going to happen but I can tell you with absolute certainty that things are not fine and the transition of power in the next three to five months is very unlikely to be peaceful and smooth.

Perhaps I'm misreading, but I feel many people are using Haque's tone as a cover for kneejerk rejections of Haque's premise - that US democracy is very close to breaking into open fascist authoritarianism. I wish this weren't where we are, but it is essential to recognize that this is where we are. Portland saw a convoy of about 600 vehicles driven by Trumpists shooting paintball pellets and pepper spray at protesters the other night (it is illegal, by the way, for militias to intimidate the public in Oregon; but police are largely on the side of fascists and white supremacists - a lesson everyone needs to learn yesterday is laws only matter when they're enforced). A far right murderer has been held up by the mainstream right (same thing these days) as a hero. Republicans literally have no party platform beyond loyalty to Trump. Republicans have been actively dismantling institutions that bolster US democracy; the damage has not been undone. Police patrol my neighborhood nightly, a SWAT team came and took one of my neighbors last night. This is happening. Please do not bury your head in the sand. I have no idea what can be done to deescalate this now. Biden is nearly as far from my preferred candidate as one could get (Bloomberg would have been worse) but I am quite literally praying that he does win, it does not immediately spark a civil war and some semblance of stability and deescalation can begin in the US.

I have never wanted to be wrong more in my life than I do now, but my gut feeling is one of deep foreboding.
posted by Lonnrot at 4:56 PM on September 1 [65 favorites]




Another faction has announced that the electoral process is suspect, tainted by mail-in voting (a conspiracy at the post office to delay or lose the ballots) and that they do not feel obligated to accept a loss.
Yeah, that’s not true at all. But BOTH SIDES ARE EQUALLY BAD, RIGHT?
posted by neroli at 5:13 PM on September 1 [12 favorites]


Also, three things:

• There is a history here of using "conspiracy" as a shorthand way of dismissing ideas, but historical and political conspiracies are real things that are distinct from "conspiracy theories" in the sense of aliens-built-the-pyramids and antisemitic moose puckey. Trump/DeJoy/Republicans' attempts to break the USPS (and destroy other institutions that could uphold election law) are well documented and not something they've even attempted to hide. Trump has for years been announcing his desire to be president for life. Framing this as a "conspiracy" in the dismissive sense is flatly wrong.

• There is currently a large scale effort by fascists and state actors to spread propaganda exacerbating tensions between the left and far right fascists, and between factions of leftists, in order to derail the Biden campaign and escalate the situation into spiraling violence. I have seen so many highly suspicious posts about the prospects of civil war in the past week online, some from confirmed propagandist accounts. A big difference between 2020 and 2016 is that the overall situation is much more volatile and precarious - propagandists don't have to work as hard, this time around. Short, incendiary one-off comments can kick off a whole chain of completely organic tensions and I'm seeing way too many young leftists taking the bait hook, line and sinker on these. I trust ya'll to be cautious and critical readers, but try to help the people in your life who are not careful readers. Stay vigilant in correcting disinformation, and please try to avoid being condescending or smug about it. Leftist spaces online are being targeted by propagandists to a degree I have never seen before in my life. This is going to get worse over the next three to five months.

• Finally, for a little levity, I do want to note how challenging it was to type all this with a kitten very enthusiastically snuggling, nuzzling, climbing all over me and "helping" me type. If she had hit any keys other than spacebar, I would've left her contributions in there, as I always assume her messages are of equal or greater importance than mine. Her insights are often much more succinct and profound, but clearly words fail even her in responding to this cluster of crises.
posted by Lonnrot at 5:16 PM on September 1 [33 favorites]


I have just signed up to be a poll worker. Hell with it, I had vacation days I wasn't going to get to be using anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:16 PM on September 1 [16 favorites]


I was about to post encouraging people to become pollworkers. Here's information on becoming a poll worker in your jurisdiction:

https://www.eac.gov/help-america-vote
posted by mistersix at 5:18 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


As someone who lost half of my family during the Holocaust, I am very very worried about this - we're already talking about whether it makes sense to move some money into a non-US account, and are considering what it would look like to move to Israel as a last resort. Because while I still don't believe this will happen, I also know that when democracies go down, they go down fast. And ever since reading the Handmaid's Tale it's really clear how all your now-digital money can be taken away instantly. While I don't think Jews are anywhere near the top of the danger list here, they're always on the list eventually. I just pray that Jared isn't a cheater (unlike literally everyone else in his circle) because if Ivanka divorces him, all bets are off. But in the meantime "first they came for the communists..." applies - we already know the people in the crosshairs now: immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ, and (as always in this country) POC - we all need to show visible solidarity and support for one another. And any GOTV actions you can do.

I feel like a lot of people are pointing and laughing at Trump's "only I can fix this / law and order" speeches when he's currently the President - as if the people he's talking to don't know this and his strategy is empty fear for fear's sake. But the more I hear it, the more I don't think that's it at all. Two seconds after he won the election with 3 million fewer votes than Hillary, he announced he had a mandate to do whatever he wanted. If he wins again, he is practically shouting that he will see that as a mandate to finally send troops into cities and take them over to "restore order" - and any comfort I have that most of the military doesn't support him, goes away when I remember that he has enough unmarked armed federal forces under his command - and the jurisdiction to create more - that I don't think that will stop him.

Sorry that I'm being alarmist. I just don't know where to put my panicky bits, so this thread seemed as good as any.

GOTV.
posted by Mchelly at 5:31 PM on September 1 [18 favorites]


I mean, I agree he doesn't offer much in terms of how to fight back, but in terms of hyperbole-level I've been reading and supporting Sarah Kendzior for years and don't see much difference between their overarching assessments of the situation and the threat level.

I find Sarah Kendzior mostly insufferable also.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 5:45 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


Thanks for directing me to movement.vote, heyforfour. I feel particularly helpless to do anything since I'm overseas. Just signed up for monthly to their "Big Five Battleground" campaign in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona. I've been monthly for FairFight for a while, but should probably up the amount.
posted by Gotanda at 5:53 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]




JFC that is NOT TRUE. That is straight-up conspiracy theory talk which has no place in this discussion.


You think mail-in votes will make a difference in Florida, just for example? When Trump is declaring victory on election night, which he has already made it very clear he plans to do, those votes won't even be counted yet. And, Florida being Florida, there's every chance those votes will never be counted accurately. Please read today's article from NY Magazine. This isn't "conspiracy theory talk," it's a very real danger. This is not a normal election and if you vote by mail your vote will probably never be counted by Trump's lackeys. They will cheat, and nothing short of an obvious, undeniable landslide on election night will get that swine out of office.

Please refrain from all-caps, personally insulting freak-outs. We're on the same side.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:09 PM on September 1 [11 favorites]


He lives in London.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:41 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


This is not a normal election and if you vote by mail your vote will probably never be counted by Trump's lackeys.

Trump’s “lackeys” are not in charge of state election boards, nor are said “lackeys” in charge of counting votes?
posted by Automocar at 6:52 PM on September 1 [16 favorites]


Like of all the things I’m worried about, trusting the integrity of the vote in November is not one of them.
posted by Automocar at 6:52 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


Like the uptick in stochastic terrorism, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some stochastic election fraud; There was already some on a small scale last election (Florida precinct wasn't it?). Hopefully it'll be rare, and only in bright-red districts.
posted by Marticus at 6:55 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Can we please acknowledge that not everyone has a viable exit strategy and that it might seem a little like gloating to talk about the fact that you have one, even if you don't intend it that way?

Well, I'm not planning on going anywhere. I suppose if things get really bad, like so bad I can no longer survive where I am, I'll have to either do something or just give up.

But I think of the history of humanity, how countries' names and borders have changed over the years, all those horrible things that happened long in the past that seemed so different from the possibility of things that could happen now. I think of all the regular people that lived through those times and the people that didn't. And I realize that despite how special and permanent now feels, as if this is the way things must always be, we are not all that different from those people. There is no immediate reason why I should expect that I won't be able to survive it too as long as the Earth can support human life and society can persist (a pretty low bar, but hey).

I still have hope that whatever seems to be happening to the US now can be turned around before it becomes unstoppable and our country is potentially torn apart. I still don't understand why it seems like the only people who truly have the power to do anything about this don't seem to be able to do anything about it, as if Trump truly is immune. I do not understand that.
posted by wondermouse at 7:08 PM on September 1 [14 favorites]


I didn't really think the article was very well written, and found the author's tone to be at least moderately insufferable. I am not previously familiar with the author.

However, the ideas it presents certainly don't seem unimaginable after the events of the last 3+ years or even 5 months.

The perfect storm of Covid restrictions, widespread protesting, violence, election interference, gerrymandering, dismantling of the USPS, feckless enablers, racism, cheating, lies... All the pieces are there. If you were ever going to try to game an election, seems like the odds are good with this one.

But hey, at least there's no history of the Republicans doing that before.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:09 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


"Hopelessness is the enemy of justice."
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 7:11 PM on September 1 [3 favorites]


I refuse to be hopeless, but there's been a definite lack of justice for a while now

As an unrelated aside, this guy in my (low income) neighborhood used to have a giant banner outside his building that read "hope is the luxury of the ignorant." It was genuinely kind of disturbing.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:18 PM on September 1 [11 favorites]


"...election fraud; There was already some on a small scale last election..."

More than 18,000 mail ballots not counted in Florida’s March presidential primary (Tampa Bay Times, June 29, 2020) The report from the national Healthy Elections project said the uncounted ballots came in late or had "defects" that prevented them being counted.

Signed, Sealed, Undelivered: Thousands Of Mail-In Ballots Rejected For Tardiness (NPR, July 13, 2020) An NPR analysis has found that in the primary elections held so far this year, at least 65,000 absentee or mail-in ballots have been rejected because they arrived past the deadline, often through no fault of the voter.

California tosses 100,000 botched mailed-in ballots for presidential primary (NBC, July 14, 2020) Most of the discounted votes arrived late, while others were lacking signatures.

Trump Says 20 Percent of Mail-In Ballots Are Lost by Post Office (Newsweek, Aug. 15, 2020). Trump's hate-on for the USPS is well-established; his administration has wanted to privatize (and pillage) it for years.

The House passed a $25 billion Postal Service funding bill on Aug. 22, as Democrats "viewed the slowing of mail delivery in recent weeks as an emergency because of important items the Postal Service delivers like medications and checks. They also expressed significant concerns about the impact Postal Service delays would have on the November election, with a record number of people expected to mail in their ballots due to the pandemic." But McConnell's said the Senate won't take up this bill, the White House issued a veto threat, and the entangled/conflicted Postmaster General since June, DeJoy, won't undo some of the changes slowing service (put those high-volume mail sorting machines back in facilities, for example) or "guarantee adequate overtime for employees needed for timely mail delivery." Also: DeJoy said he doesn't even want the House's dirty money, though $25 billion was the figure requested by the Postal Service Board of Governors -- "100% Trump appointees."
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:09 PM on September 1 [24 favorites]


Unhappily, I too am worried about the possibility of the sort of suppression of votes by the people charged with counting the vote that Ms Hitler warns about. I just think a lot of Trump Republicans would be perfectly happy to slide down the slippery slope from gerrymandering and the like to plain not counting cast ballots. I hope this doesn't make me a conspiracy theorist! Folks at the not usually overly paranoid NYT seem to be alert to such possibilities, amongst others:

To keep the president from claiming victory on Nov. 3, Biden supporters who can vote in person may well have to.

Trump Might Cheat. Activists Are Getting Ready.

(There are nuances among the various bad scenarios considered in these pieces; but mail-in votes not being counted is one theme, along with their not being counted soon enough, which might work out to the same thing.)
posted by bertran at 8:19 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


Here's what lets me handle Current Things.

1. Make friends with your neighbours (safely). Yes, it's Covid but talk from the street, drop a note with your name and how to read you on {means of choice}, share fake extra things. Whatever you can do. It's the sandbag approach. If everyone on your block were under threat of a rising river, would you know who has the sandbags, and who would you call first to help you stack? If your neighbour sees you at the protest he's about to drive his car through, will he hesitate because he knows you love his cat?

Will you ask questions if your neighbour disappears?

If you can't do this for whatever reason, that's okay, but if you can...these are the final lines that will count if something really bad happens. If it doesn't, you still have a better neighbourhood.

2. Take a first aid course. Hopefully you never need it.

3. Do your self-care as best you can to be as well-rested and healthy as you can be. Read what makes you feel strong. Share what makes you feel empathy. Read A Paradise Built in Hell. Read the freakin' Declaration of Independence if you must.

4. Vote vote vote.

5. Tell stories.

Here's the one I have tonight. After 2016 I was very depressed. The summer of 2017 when Wonder Woman came out I had just finished my second year of training in Martial Arts. I grew up powerless, I was abused as a child. I was raped in university. But watching Wonder Woman...I realized I had crossed that No Man's Land in that...my fear of men hitting me was over.

So I quit my corporate job to support women (and men, but for me, women) training in Martial Arts. Our community is strong and lots of us have been training online together in this pandemic.

None of us is going to take down the bad guy in Bruce Lee fashion, and I've never been close to a real fight. But I am no longer afraid someone will hit me. I won't like it and I may get hurt. I am afraid of guns and rape and mobs and fire.

But I can step in between someone and a target. I have. I was riding the subway home in 2018 when a drunk white guy went to punch "an Indian" (First Nations) for...being on the subway, I guess. He didn't even really see me, and I reacted without thinking as he reached past me - my body's muscle memory blocked his punch, and shoved him (palm strike) in the chest enough that he went back against the (empty) seats. Then he apologized to me profusely and fled the train at the next stop.

It was not a situation in which I was worried for myself - there was an alarm strip over me and he was super uncoordinated drunk, and there were other people around I felt would help. But I also just didn't have time to worry. Man, that felt - something. A different guy might have had a knife but...you know, I drive knowing people might kill me with their driving, and that scares me but it doesn't stop me.

But in the end, I just acted. No idea how it would come out.

That is my hope. Everyone acts. Trump loses. There may well be a few very bad things, there will almost certainly be a lot of medium awful things. Hope says enough institutions will hold strong to the ideals of the Constitution and the rule of law - the ideals that are so often not upheld for people.

Then the work gets harder, because if Trump loses, I hate to tell you, it seems like it's at least partially because of Covid-19. If there hadn't been something so wildly awful to screw up, where would things be?

With luck, we all have time.

Since he was elected -- and really, Harper up here started it for me -- I have known that the time before, when I thought we all agreed Nazis were the bad guys (yes privilege, willful) is over. I have known that part of my job is to train women how to fight. I think it may in a while be time for something else, and that's okay too.

There's something in you - an artistic vision, an ability to knit, a way with plants, a love of dogs, a way with The Goog - that will be there when you need it, when we all need it. Nurture that, man.

The fear is like weeds, it grows itself.

I'm dead serious and I know it sounds stupid, but there is no one solution to this wave of conspiracy and hatred, the threat of facism, this failure of checks and balances, the depth of the rot of the GOP, to corruption of capitalism...not yet. There maybe was a moment when Ronald Reagan convinced everyone there are welfare queens and AIDS is only the result of bad decisions. But now it's deep in, and it will take a lot of strategies.

And if it ever comes down to One Solution (beyond voting) it will probably be terrifying.

But right now if you can do one thing you care about every day. You don't know how it will help. But that one positive north star...Schindler didn't build his factory for the Holocaust but it was there.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:17 PM on September 1 [73 favorites]


If the US became a fascist regime, there wouldn't be anywhere safe to emigrate to.
posted by compound eye at 11:17 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


for an american?
posted by infini at 12:27 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]




Just on the subject of alleged voter fraud...

I heard a podcast that absolutely eviscerated that concept, beyond a shadow of a doubt. I think it was The Skepticrat?

Here's the gist of it:
- one person's vote is practically irrelevant in the scheme of things. And it carries heavy penalties so an individual would never run the risk (unless they are phenomenally stupid)
- to commit successful voter fraud it needs to be on a massive scale
- that needs to happen not only in one State but in a number of them
- you also have to guess which states will be the closest, and then create enough fraudulent ballots to easily get beyond any chances of swings or margins of error in polling...and then add a bit of extra buffer just to be safe
- the number of fraudulent votes x the effort required to fill in the ballots and mail them would be so high that it's practically impossible to even achieve logistically
- if you were to attempt it, it would require a large operation (many people, dedicated premises) and then your chances of being discovered would increase rapidly, through leaks, suspicious activity or traceable spikes of large numbers of ballots being sent from the same location

For all the allegations that Trump throws around, you only need to think about it for a short while to realise that it's almost impossible to pull off at any kind of community activist level.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:56 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Then the work gets harder, because if Trump loses, I hate to tell you, it seems like it's at least partially because of Covid-19. If there hadn't been something so wildly awful to screw up, where would things be?
The flip side of this is that handled with even the least bit of competence, a large portion of the nation would have been desperate to give Trump credit for decisiveness and leadership in the Covid crisis, even if all he had done was to listen to advice and get out of the way. He's not even capable of that and he's so damaged as a person that he was fundamentally unable to recognize what an extraordinary opportunity he had been handed.

He's such a monomaniacally self-interested fuck-up that it was always going to be something. If you're desperate for a ray of hope, seize on that until something better comes along.

He and his enablers are terrible, possibly existential threats to our democracy. But they're also idiots for the most part. They're not diabolically evil geniuses playing 8-dimensional chess, they're grifters and con men who bluffed their way into the center of power and were handed nearly every lever in the government and yet couldn't figure out how to operate any of them in any but the grossest, clumsiest ways. They're beatable. And we're going to beat them, because the alternative is unthinkable but also because they're not nearly as competent as they believe themselves to be.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:39 AM on September 2 [34 favorites]


For all the allegations that Trump throws around, you only need to think about it for a short while to realise that it's almost impossible to pull off at any kind of community activist level.
Regarding voter fraud and/or election fraud -- I agree that any effort to change the election outcome by mass casting of fraudulent ballots is a crazy scheme that nobody would actually try. But there are many other ways to compromise a closely balanced election, which (at this distance from the actual day of election) seems to be what we're going to be dealing with.

The kind of f*ckery I am more worried about is less direct but potentially at least as disastrous. What happens if votes start coming back from just a few precincts in a couple of swing states that use electronic voting machines of the type that provide no auditable paper trail and the results are clumsily and very obviously skewed in favor of the Democratic candidates? You'd better believe that if two or three precincts in Ohio or Wisconsin come back with machine vote totals that are obviously tampered with, Trump will claim the whole election was fixed and his supporters are completely primed to support such an accusation at this point.

And how hard, really, would that be to arrange? I don't think you need a nefarious nation-state or a shadowy global conspiracy to plant seeds on that tiny scale. I'm halfway convinced someone from some godforsaken chan board will try something like that "for the lulz". The prospect terrifies me.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:51 AM on September 2 [10 favorites]


Perhaps I'm misreading, but I feel many people are using Haque's tone as a cover for kneejerk rejections of Haque's premise - that US democracy is very close to breaking into open fascist authoritarianism.
Yeah, Lannrot, I think you're misreading. I can't speak for every MeFite, but the thing I took issue with is his whole "The problem is that no one is protesting! And my evidence is...that no one protested this guy getting shot at a protest!" First of all, that's not true. Plenty of people protested. They just didn't protest at the specific intersection that Haique wanted them to protest at.

He has been saying throughout all these protests that no one is protesting. Which is shitting all over the people risking things out there.
posted by rednikki at 2:28 AM on September 2 [16 favorites]


I suppose that Haque's audience might, as chaz asserts upthread, be primarily the comfortable HBS-alum professional class that hasn't(?) started panicking yet. (Though to be fair, the ones I personally know are DEFINITELY panicking, and doing everything they can to GOTV.) That said, the "real American TM" strawman gets tiresome pretty quickly, since its main utility in the article appears to be that no one can disprove any statements the author might make about such a vague stereotype. Plenty of Americans, including the intellectual class, have been saying exactly what Haque is saying for the past four years.

I also agree with other posters that the assertion that there are no protests going on or that there haven't been is bizarre and unhelpful because it's just...demonstrably not true? Like at all? No, not even in the nation's capital? Argue that mobilization isn't widespread enough, or that protests need to be more radical, or that they're not achieving enough, but erasing the enormous, sustained efforts people--especially Black Americans--have been engaging in at considerable cost and risk to themselves and their communities is not helpful here.

Re: trying to stop the speeding train: I have got less than no business telling Americans of color what to do. They don't owe the US a goddamned thing (and yet somehow, year in and year out, they are the ones who always show up). But fellow white people? We do not have the right to not try. The individual actions some of us don't wanna do because they feel too small and too embarrassingly earnest, like voting and donating and protesting and helping other people? With no guaranteed outcome, or which might not bear fruit until after we're dead? That's the fucking work. Sorry. There is no grand heroic act that we get to be the star of, vanquishing our enemies gloriously for all time, and which renders unglamorous individual acts of decency unnecessary and meaningless. That's fashy, dangerous, bullshit thinking and I am seeing WAY too many anti-45 folks (no, not necessarily on Metafilter, let's not get into that again) falling into it. Do not obey in advance. Go down kicking and fucking screaming, for the sake of your dignity if nothing else. The only alternative is to roll over and let it happen. That's all I got.
posted by peakes at 4:31 AM on September 2 [23 favorites]


Old Navy to pay store employees to work election polls in November

So the military is already planning to get involved in the election? Will they turn the country into a Banana Republic?
posted by snofoam at 4:53 AM on September 2 [36 favorites]


Ppl are talking about emigrating but are any countries even letting Americans in?

Haque isn't talking about emigration. He's talking about being a refugee.
posted by eviemath at 5:57 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Old Navy is the name of a clothing store (an off brand of Gap). Not the military branch.
posted by eviemath at 5:58 AM on September 2


eviemath, I took snofoam's comment as a joke.

But also taking this opportunity to say - hey, y'all, consider signing up to be a poll worker where you are too, if you're able. In some places they pay you, but more importantly you can make sure that your polling place is robustly-staffed enough that the people who do turn up to vote don't get frustrated by long lines and leave before they've voted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


eviemath, I took snofoam's comment as a joke.

Ah, see, that's what the "/sarcasm" or "/hamburger" tags are for.
posted by eviemath at 6:21 AM on September 2


Old Navy to pay store employees to work election polls in November

So the military is already planning to get involved in the election? Will they turn the country into a Banana Republic?


Someone will need to fill The Gap where democracy used to be.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:24 AM on September 2 [46 favorites]


On the topic of exit strategies and refugees, though, this discussion brings up an interesting point. What level of resources does one need in order to even be a refugee? And what does that maybe say about the popular conception of refugees in Western countries as only being in need, rather than also having valuable skills and experience to contribute? And also about our ethical obligations to internally displaced people or those who don't even have the resources to leave a war zone or natural disaster area that many other people are fleeing as refugees?
posted by eviemath at 6:24 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


My spouse, who very very occasionally posts here as Comrade Doll, grew up under Ceaușescu in Romania. Like BuddhaInABucket's family, she feels it's all quite possibly going to go sideways. She's accepted this. She's tough.

The thing is, while we technically have options (going to Romania or Hungary), they aren't great, both because of the state of those countries and because our careers/job skills, which are finally starting to amount to something in the US, won't really transfer over there. Do we want to leave our jobs and home here to share a studio apartment and barely scrape by there?

Some days, she's willing. Other days, she says flatly that she survived fascism before and she can do it again. Then she reminds me of the Ceaușescus on Christmas morning.

Like I said, she's tough.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:30 AM on September 2 [11 favorites]


I haven't posted in this community in a long time but I've been lurking more so these days. If my fears come true then I will probably bare witness and succumb to the white supremacist regime. I have considered an exit strategy, but at this time, it would be inconceivable to leave. I don't love it here and don't want to be merely obliterated by chuckling yokels. And yet, leaving our family and friends to live abroad feels implicitly incompatible with my scant core belief system. Accepting this has been strangely freeing.
posted by sswiller at 6:31 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


With reference to what people can do, here's the "How To Save America" episode of It Could Happen Here.

Might help people feel a bit better.
posted by MattWPBS at 6:41 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


If the grim outlook of some survivors of authoritarian regimes seems like extreme pessimism to you, okay.

But at the very least, it's worth understanding that Americans who've been through that in other countries and are seeing echoes of it in their new home today are experiencing some pretty serious PTSD triggers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:46 AM on September 2 [12 favorites]


I just signed up to be a poll worker on election day. We'll see how that pans out.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:01 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I'm not in the sanguine camp. I don't think this point is "overheated," even though the writing is breathless.

When he says "no one" is protesting, yes that does dismiss the millions of BLM protestors. But I agree with those who say his audience is the intellectual and business elite, and they are not protesting - perhaps as individuals, but not with their institutions or centers of power on any grand scale. They are hoping for the best, not mobilizing against this regime. That's undeniably true. Even as all this has been going on, they've been sending lobbyists to DC and trying to squeeze what they can out of this chaos (PPP, CARES Act, giveaways to law enforcement).

His point is that the centers of power in this country - not people power, money and institutional power - have not arrayed themselves against 45 and are simply hoping to ride it out as though this is ? a mostly business-as-usual, slightly unfavorable Presidency. And that's pretty undeniable.

The kind of resistance he's arguing for - that of institutions - we've seen almost none of. And that's what is meant by "your institutions will not protect you." It means that individuals within those institutions, whether they be universities, hospitals, lower government bodies, police forces, professional associations, major companies, military branches - will not take the risk of using their institutional power and structures to stand in the way.

So...for the hopeful ones among us, one of the things you could do is work within your institutions. Maybe share this, or share something less incendiary if you need to, in your own institutional circles and ask "what are we doing about this?" Maybe talk with your colleagues. If you have any institutional belonging or power, and the safety to act within it, now's the time to use it.
posted by Miko at 7:06 AM on September 2 [25 favorites]


Your comments flagged as fantastic, warriorqueen and peakes. Things in the US suck. They are terrible now, and they may get worse. Worrying is not a strategy, as my ex-therapist used to remind me. We need to do the work, myself included, as little or as much as we can handle. There are many different tasks. Doesn't have to be perfect. Just pick something, pretty much anything, and start doing it. As Miko notes, inside an institution if you are working in one. I keep reminding myself that I need to do the best I can, with what I have, from where I am (thank you for the quote, dead former US President whose name escapes me).

Everyone has a different tipping point for OMG we are so so fucked. I thought I was there already. Then I read this New Republic article (In Portsmouth, Virginia, cops have been systematically using their state power to tyrannize political enemies) earlier in the week and I kind of lost it. I cannot fix everything. I can barely keep myself fed. But I need to find something I can do that feels helpful, something that works for me, and find it in a hurry. Thanks for the post, Roach.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:16 AM on September 2 [9 favorites]


But also taking this opportunity to say - hey, y'all, consider signing up to be a poll worker where you are too, if you're able. In some places they pay you, but more importantly you can make sure that your polling place is robustly-staffed enough that the people who do turn up to vote don't get frustrated by long lines and leave before they've voted.

Yes, please this! To the nth degree! I started working the polls right after Trump was elected, in part because I wanted to see how the sausage is made. And jesus christ, of all the talk about how mail-in-voting rife with fraud, you would be amazed about how much voter disenfranchisement goes on due to Americans who work the polls, who don't pay any attention during mandatory training, who can't figure out to use the iPad to help look up a voter's correct precinct, who try to turn away voters because they don't have the "right" ID (in AZ, there is a wide range of acceptable identification, such as using bills with your name and address...which they would know, if they read the handbook) The former election worker trainer for Pima county (retired now, thankfully) would tell poll workers to really scrutinize every voter who comes in for fraud, but not the idea that every person who walks through the door should be treated equally and processed fairly

Poll workers rooster should not be filled only with retirees who have the time to work from 5am-7pm+ on election day.

AZ has had permanent early mail in voting for years now, and you can always just drop your ballot off directly at any precinct on election day. Those then immediately get sent to the recorder's office for counting on election night. When I worked the primary early this year, almost all of the in person voters were Republican, many who then told us they don't trust mail in voting. We didn't get any of the fun "my child just turned 18 and this is their first election and we're gonna take a picture of them with their sticker" like we usually do, which breaks up the day.

They county gave us face-shields to wear on top of our masks, in case of deliberate spitting or coughing.

Please sign up.
posted by lizjohn at 7:21 AM on September 2 [14 favorites]


I told my folks I'd signed up to be a poll worker; PaterCallipygos was tickled, as he did that too in the 60s (he was super into RFK at the time). MaterCallipygos urged me to remember to wear all the protective gear I could; I actually have an Tyvek suit that one of my theater companies used as a costume in one scene, and I may send her a picture of myself wearing that as a joke to ask "how's this?"

Except whenever I do I remember that the play in question was a racially-based dystopic future and that seems wrong, also the suit smells funny
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Are there ways to volunteer to help at polls in any way if you're not registered to vote in the place you're currently living? (Maybe that varies by state?)
posted by little onion at 7:40 AM on September 2


What level of resources does one need in order to even be a refugee?

This depends largely upon where you intend to flee, but for the purposes of the US at present you will probably not be accepted anywhere as a "true" refugee -- things will have to get substantially worse before most countries are willing to accept your application.

If you wish to go somewhere and NOT apply for asylum, then you'd be doing so via illegal immigration, in which case you'd need to decide if you want to hire smugglers or not. Without being smuggled, and without any existing social network in the target nation, as a first-order estimate I'd guess you'd want to have approximately six months of living expenses if you want to avoid living on the street (you're a lot easier to nab if you're obviously homeless). Smugglers charge tens of thousands for risky/long routes, and there's always the chance they'll decide to rip you off (murder you) instead. I wouldn't go with smugglers unless it's a fairly direct flee-or-die-right-now type of situation for you.

If you don't want to go via illegal routes, then the cost is pretty well-known: >$100,000 gets you a Caribbean passport and "asylum" insofar as now you're a citizen of Antigua and thus can live in Antigua. Malta and Cyprus are substantially more expensive; Montenegro has a relatively recent program that could be appealing except they're not part of the Schengen Zone yet, which is a pretty major drawback. Thailand has a nice residency program for "retirement" purposes, so that could be an option if you don't need to work any more.
posted by aramaic at 7:41 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


But I agree with those who say his audience is the intellectual and business elite, and they are not protesting - perhaps as individuals, but not with their institutions or centers of power on any grand scale.

I disagree with that. I work for a big corporation, and we've had to do all sorts of corporate-required work/training/seminars in support of protesting and in support of BLM. I can't imagine that we are the only mega-corp that is doing this kind of stuff. Is the CEO marching in DC or Portland? Probably not, but they see the way the winds are blowing.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:42 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I’m still seeing ppl talk about emigrating, but what countries are currently taking in Americans? I was under the impression we were banned from traveling most anywhere due to the virus. Is this incorrect?
posted by gucci mane at 8:21 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


I disagree with that. I work for a big corporation, and we've had to do all sorts of corporate-required work/training/seminars in support of protesting and in support of BLM. I can't imagine that we are the only mega-corp that is doing this kind of stuff. Is the CEO marching in DC or Portland? Probably not, but they see the way the winds are blowing.

The DEI industrial complex was created with the express purpose of preventing the kind of sweeping, structural change required to address a sweeping, structural problem. Trainings and seminars are how institutions capture solidarity and diffuse revolutionary potential through a thousand bureaucratic sieves.
posted by Richard Saunders at 8:25 AM on September 2 [12 favorites]


Well to add some anxiety to your day, Democratic leaning Virginia, now has Kanye on the ballot, so now I guess I gotta get out there and vote. And here I was worried about Pennsylvania.

Furgawdsakes. Here I'm trying to get Cameron Webb elected and the state is going to the hell described in this post.

There's this:

Yes, Kanye West is really on the ballot for president in Virginia
How he got on the ballot is being called into question


But there's also this:
Lawsuit filed to keep Kanye West off Virginia ballot


So, hope maybe.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:33 AM on September 2


gucci mane, I think since the article was talking about the POV of people who have lived through authoritarianism before, the people talking about possible exit strategies are likely to be discussing using their connections to their original home country, secondary passports, or support from family members elsewhere in the world to exit the US.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:36 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


One thing worth noting is that there is a Bush v Gore pathway to a Trump "victory" that's both 100% rigged and has just barely enough legalism surrounding it to probably keep Biden from risking civil war by fighting against it too strongly.

The Constitution has a provision for a contingent election in the House in the event that the EC is unable or unwilling to vote, or if there's some other problem. The trick is that in the contingent election each **STATE** gets one vote in the House, regardless of population, and that vote is cast as decided by the House delegation from that state. There are more than 25 states with a House delegation controlled by Republicans meaning that in the event of a contingent election Trump is guaranteed to win.

All he needs is to sue, sow confusion, cast doubt, declare victory the instant he pulls ahead on Election Day and demand all mail in ballots not be counted because they're fraudulent. It either goes to the Supreme Court which can conveniently toss its hands in the air, declare that the matter is a political question and they can't address it, and punt it to the House for a contingent election with that being presented as a "non-partisan" decision.

Would Biden refuse to accept that, or would he pull a Gore and surrender?

Not only are civil wars awful, but it takes a lot to push a nation into one. The fog of quasi-legalism surrounding a contingent election would likely be sufficient that even most rank and file Democrats would be more likely to say it's a shame, but it's legal and it's better to have four more years of Trump than to risk the whole nation ripping itself apart in civil war.

And then we never have fair elections again.

I have no exit strategy. My partner and I can't flee with our kid to another nation, and while we're looking into moving to LA next summer that won't save our skins if it's a civil war in November and at the moment we're dithering even on that due to economics. We worry that we're like Jews in Germany in 1930, the threat seems sufficiently vague and ill formed that jumping now, throwing away economic security, seems foolish. But by the time it becomes clear that it's time to run, it's probably too late.

My partner, who has been as staunchly anti-gun as me up until recently, thinks we should arm ourselves. She says it's not ideal, but it's better than being unarmed if a mob shows up.

So no, I'm not here to say it's all doomed and we should give up on voting.

But we should be prepared for things to go to open civil war and not simply assume that voting will solve everything.

And we should vote in person if at all possible. Trump is very open in his intent to sabotage voting by mail, and regardless of the patriotism and loyalty of postal workers the USPS is run by a corrupt Trump cultist who is using his position to sabotage voting by mail. Even if you're in a blue state DeJoy may succeed in delaying the mail long enough for Chief Justice Roberts to pull a Trump victory out of his hat.

We need to win on election day, not count on mail in ballots counted days or even weeks after election day to upend a seeming Trump victory. You've got almost two months, see if you can manage enough PPE to make it to the polls, especially if early voting is an option.

Mail in should be the absolute last resort.
posted by sotonohito at 8:39 AM on September 2 [10 favorites]


I was under the impression we were banned from traveling most anywhere due to the virus. Is this incorrect?

Most of the bans involve exceptions for "important" trips (eg: death in the family) and for citizens/residents returning home. These exceptions still involve whatever quarantining the destination has decided upon, of course. So someone getting citizenship via descent would generally be permitted to travel to that country (assuming they can arrange the flights, and this is in the general sense only, any specific nation may behave differently).
posted by aramaic at 8:42 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


The flip side of this is that handled with even the least bit of competence, a large portion of the nation would have been desperate to give Trump credit for decisiveness and leadership in the Covid crisis, even if all he had done was to listen to advice and get out of the way. He's not even capable of that and he's so damaged as a person that he was fundamentally unable to recognize what an extraordinary opportunity he had been handed.

Canada's most populous province, Ontario, is governed by Doug Ford (previously) who first came to prominence as the brother/replacement/co-conspirator/tag team partner/hype man for Toronto mayor Rob Ford (previously, previously). Rob was himself the proof-of-concept of the current president* (inherited money but called himself a businessman outsider who promised to shake things up and stand up for the little guy, was a disaster on multiple fronts, consistently mendacious about even the most trivial and easily disprovable things). Doug is very much in the same mould and his path to power is curiously similar to Trump's, down to and including receiving fewer votes (for the party leadership) than a much more experienced and qualified woman, but winning anyway.

DoFo is historically a big Trump supporter (although his admiration has been tempered by new tariffs) but he is politically more canny -- the aforementioned better-qualified woman, Christine Elliott, is now the deputy premier and Minister of Health for the province and several others who were his leadership rivals are ow cabinet ministers. Imagine 45 had put John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton and John McCain in his cabinet.

When the pandemic first hit in mid-March, DoFo was out there telling people to take the March break to travel and see Ontario and enjoy themselves. That advice got walked back pretty quickly and since then Ford has been actively discouraging unsafe behaviour and doing more or less daily pandemic briefings where he stays on script, delivering useful and sober updates (Christine Elliott is usually onstage with him). Even Ontarians whose general rating of Ford's skills as a leader would approach zero from below -- that's me -- have grudgingly admitted he is hugely exceeding expectations. He is currently just about the most popular premier in the country (trailing only John Horgan in BC), having more than doubled his approval rating since February. He did this by listening to advice and getting out of the way.

Ontario has a population of ~14.5 million and as of today, 2,812 deaths attributed to COVID. The population puts it out halfway between its neighbours: Michigan's 9.9 million people (6800 deaths) and New York's 19.5 million (32,500 deaths).

TL; dr: 45 could have delivered on his pre-inauguration pledge that he would unify the nation and convinced skeptics. He could have saved 100,000+ American lives, and not been frantically shutting down the post office to stop mail-in ballots. Instead he pissed it away, nattering about hydroxychloriquine and a secret cabal of deep state enemies. Sad.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:45 AM on September 2 [17 favorites]


I also worry that we're too far gone to end this peacefully.

At this point I am as convinced that the vote is fraudulent as the average MAGA hat is. The only real difference between me an them is that I do acknowledge it's possible for Trump to win legitimately, it's just that he's been so open in his cheating that at this point it's literally impossible to know if a hypothetical Trump win in November would be truly legitimate or the result of cheating. Like the MAGA hat I'm all but pre-destined to declare a win for the candidate I oppose as fraud.

My faith in fair elections in America is currently non-existent.
posted by sotonohito at 8:47 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Follow up note to my call to engage with your institutions: that doesn’t just mean your employers (though that’s a good place to start). It can also mean:

Your college/university, and any private schools you attended
Your church or religious organization
Your professional association
Community organizations you may belong to, like the YMCA
Your summer camp or scouting district
Local nonprofits for which you volunteer
Boards you serve on
Clubs you’re in
Advocacy associations - anything from the AARP to Audubon to..
Parent organizations
Sports groups and clubs
Museums, zoos, aquariums, science centers where you have a membership

Just think about anything that’s an organization or association or institution in which you can claim some sort of membership. There is a collective energy there you can be per of. Speaking as someone working within cultural institutions, often no amount of agitation from the inside can hold the same swag as a few well-placed calls from members asking “what are you doing about X?”

Some institutions will reply: we don’t engage in partisan activity. Your response: this isn’t partisan. It’s about preserving democracy.

Give it a try. Think about where you have the power of membership and participation, and use that to leverage larger organizations into action.
posted by Miko at 8:48 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


I do have an exit strategy. I am moving to Canada (in the next two months barring yet another roadblock) and you know what? Even if I, personally, am safe, my friends and US family will not be. My US based company may or may not survive, the bank system and economy I depend on may collapse.

No one in this country is getting away undamaged from this, no matter how far you run.
posted by ananci at 8:52 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]




When the US sneezes Canada gets a cold. I mean yes, things are better here. But populism is coming, and our economy is going to go where the US's does at least for a decade. So we absolutely are a part of this fight for democracy, rule of law, social justice, and public health and wellbeing.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:11 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


I also worry that we're too far gone to end this peacefully.

My angle on this is along the lines of, it you're not worried, you're either a fool or an asshole or a foolish asshole. But then, we've already got violence, which I don't see suddenly de-escalating anytime soon regardless of who wins what. I read a bit of something the other day from a historian (wish I'd bookmarked it) who basically said that, however things work out on the long-long term, America is looking at as much as fifteen years of the current level of discord-chaos-craziness ... with variations, of course. So Portland, Kenosha, the overall divided state of the United States playing out on the streets and beyond -- that's the new normal, symptoms of a disease that's sufficiently complicated (and long time coming) that it's going to take a generation to really play out.

Which, it's worth noting, is nothing that many parts of the world don't know all about (ie: the point of the article in question). It's rather how the world ends up working when too many people take the stuff of a functional democracy (for lack of a better word) for granted. If nothing else, it looks like we're in for a graduate level course in civics whether we want it or not.

Am I prognosticating a zombie apocalypse? No. I don't prognosticate. The future ain't written. But it is being written. Get busy, friends and neighbors. Get active.
posted by philip-random at 9:31 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


The DEI industrial complex was created with the express purpose of preventing the kind of sweeping, structural change required to address a sweeping, structural problem. Trainings and seminars are how institutions capture solidarity and diffuse revolutionary potential through a thousand bureaucratic sieves.

That seems like a grand implication. Would you say the same thing about sex ed in public schools? Option B (the cheaper option) is always do nothing. It also implies that the people taking the trainings are in support of DEI and are cognizant of its goals without the training, which seems to be... a stretch.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:32 AM on September 2


ricochet biscuit's comment above about Doug Ford is a good reminder about a how large percentage of voters don't vote rationally. They seem to vote with their feelings. Doug Ford feels like a good choice to some, maybe because they relate to him culturally or he reminds them of someone in their family, etc.

It's a media construct.

Which is why it's puzzling to me why there isn't a full court press media campaign against Trump. I know there are news articles and editorials here and there, but it's not enough. Hollywood is supposedly liberal, why is isn't there a larger, well-produced, able-to-reach mid-America voters campaign that is overwhelming the Fox/Oann bullshit? I feel like the energy/anxiety is there, I wonder what it would take to get that going.
posted by ishmael at 9:57 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure how the grand claim of institutional entrapment would apply to sexual harassment and removal of abusive bosses. If you have trainings, change the rules, and fire people who abuse their employees when it was previously acceptable, how is that maintaining the status quo of the patriarchy? This sounds like the logic that claims only a grand gesture like a general strike can fix everything.
posted by benzenedream at 9:59 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Which is why it's puzzling to me why there isn't a full court press media campaign against Trump.

"The press" isn't a guy in a cheap suit with a press pass tucked into the band of his fedora anymore. A lot of the most influential like Maggie Haberman and Chuck Todd are millionaires whose interests might be different from yours. The media outlets are owned by billionaires.
posted by JackFlash at 10:08 AM on September 2 [17 favorites]


There are people doing things, and reasons for hope, that may just be outside of our personal bubbles.

I hadn't checked in on the Rev. William Barber for a while, but looking at his blog posts lately he's been highlighting the work of The Poor People's Campaign, and their recent study showing that low-income Americans could change the election if engaged - that there are 15 states where new low-income voters could flip the results. He's also doing events with the National Press Foundation to help journalists cover children and families in poverty.

People like him have been fighting oppression for decades (was elected president of the local NAACP youth council at 15). He's seen things devolve; he's seen setback after setback. He's talked a lot about how it's been a pendulum swing - two steps forward, one step back - since Reconstruction.

After the murder of George Floyd, he said,
Sometimes death can make people doubt and go into despair. Or, especially in the movement, it can spur you on. Sometimes death makes people say, "Our systems are failing us! We may die, but we shouldn't die like this." Sometimes death actually brings people to life.

Forward together, not one step back!
To be honest, I feel like the first action I have to take every day to fight authoritarianism and oppression and injustice is to remind myself that millions of other people have done it, and are doing it; millions of other people have learned the practice of pushing through their despair and committing themselves to work for change, even if there's no good reason to hope; millions of people have stubbornly chosen, insisted on, acting as if their actions MIGHT make a difference.

If I really look around my community, there are hundreds of people trying to get out the vote, raise awareness, push back against police brutality, build community, make real change, even if none of us can change the world single-handedly.

Will it be enough? There's no way to know. But I'd rather do it anyway, and give my attention to people who are working to marshal all the forces they can find to stop the thugs and build a better world.
posted by kristi at 10:13 AM on September 2 [22 favorites]


Trump’s “lackeys” are not in charge of state election boards, nor are said “lackeys” in charge of counting votes?
Unless you live in Georgia where they very publicly and explicitly are.
posted by gelfin at 10:14 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


The media outlets are owned by billionaires.
True, but I got the impression that there were plenty of rich people that were at least left of center. And I wonder if there's a way to reach/organize with them.
posted by ishmael at 10:14 AM on September 2


The thing with exit strategies is the United States is hardly alone in its turn to fascism, it’s kind of a global movement and many of the places one might exit to are also caught up in it to some degree or are strongly aligned with the US, or both. Last time we had bad fascism outbreak it took most of the world to put it down, but this time all the big players will be on the other side.
posted by rodlymight at 10:16 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


A lot of the most influential like Maggie Haberman and Chuck Todd are millionaires whose interests might be different from yours.

Also, it's so far gone in the right-wing direction that it's an object lesson. The natural result of right-wing media is an existential threat. Haberman and Todd might be lost causes, I'd think that at least some media people (Oprah, Spielberg, etc.) might want to counter that.
posted by ishmael at 10:37 AM on September 2


"the least exciting candidate of all time"
How could we forget John Kerry?!
A: Because he was the least exciting candidate of all time.

Sorry, I have to call your Kerry and raise you a Walter Mondale.

Back to the topic.

I have volunteered to be a precinct official. If declined, I will call the local Dems and volunteer to drive people to the polls. I am not afraid of getting sick, and I will quarantine afterward so I don't get anyone else sick. Voting is important every year. This year, it's life or death.

I have a Trump problem at home: my husband has become a supporter. I told him in 2016 that voting for Trump was grounds for divorce, before that shithead even got the nomination. David voted for the Libertarian (thanks, not). All that we predicted came true and more. In the past 3 years, he has joined the party of "the Dems are worse!" until he is a parody. He actually told me that if Bernie were elected, it would start the country "down the long Red road." (I was so floored I failed to laugh in his face.) I am working on a plan to discuss this with him - it's going to be an unpleasant talk.

tl,dr; I think I'm going to have to end my 17 year marriage over this. I wonder if he'll let me keep a sword?
posted by corvikate at 10:46 AM on September 2 [51 favorites]


I'd think that at least some media people (Oprah, Spielberg, etc.) might want to counter that.

Oprah may be having second thoughts after her best friend Gayle received death threats following a news piece she made about Kobe Bryant. As for Spielberg, he's already produced a six-part documentary about the threat of white supremacy.

The media people you're thinking of are doing things, it's just that the things they're doing are attracting benign neglect at best and right-wing counterattacks at worst.

The problem isn't that the left wing media isn't doing enough. The problem is that the public is finding the more scandalous shit more interesting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I'm really sorry, corvikate. Good luck. There are so many people in that spouse/family/loved-ones-put-on-the-brown-shirt boat with you and it hurts my heart.
posted by Lonnrot at 11:03 AM on September 2 [10 favorites]


I'd love to see the media be stronger. How many subscriptions are you currently paying for?
posted by Miko at 11:08 AM on September 2


And then we never have fair elections again.

While I am concerned about a possible contingent election, this conclusion doesn't follow that fear: the U.S. actually has survived a contingent election in 1877. It was decided horribly unfairly, Hayes never should have been President, and the consequences reverberate through to the present day; but it did not end fair elections forever.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:11 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Hm, I'm maybe getting hung up on "left wing media" per se.

I think "media" of various kinds do have an effect. The near ubiquity of cameras has totally shifted public opinion on Black Lives Matter and the Confederacy, in the US and around the world. Social media may seem trivial, but Facebook has definitely contributed to the rise of the alt-right. The Joe Rogan/Jordan Peterson/Ben Shapiro/Alex Jones pipeline have definitely converted a lot of frustrated men to fascism.

I just feel like there is a way to reach people and shift how they feel about things. A lot of right-wingers I talk to in my friends and family have extremely shallow, but intense belief systems. If they were given another path that they could relate to, I think they could be shifted.
posted by ishmael at 11:14 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


A lot of right-wingers I talk to in my friends and family have extremely shallow, but intense belief systems. If they were given another path that they could relate to, I think they could be shifted.

It sounds like a good idea on paper, but it runs into human nature at a crucial point. I have a feeling that the right-wingers you speak to weren't brought to the right wing simply and solely because of something they read or saw; on the other hand, I think that these tendencies were always there, and the right wing media they saw reinforced something they already believed, so they were more comfortable expressing it.

Believe me, I wish it were otherwise. But consider: if they weren't already sort of that way inclined, they would have heard a Glenn Beck podcast or whatever and would have just rolled their eyes and said "well, that sounds like bullshit" and not bought in. People have to sort of subconsciously want the things that the media they consume are selling them, even if they can't articulate what it is they're looking for.

There's even a Biblical parable about this kind of thing - Jesus talking about how preaching is like scattering seeds, but the seeds have to fall on good ground in order for them to take root. The reason the right-wing seeds took root in your friends is because they were wanting to accept them, and left-wing seeds probably wouldn't take root there anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:20 AM on September 2 [28 favorites]


LooseFilter I didn't mean one contingent election would end democracy, I meant another 4 years of Trump would.

The Republicans are already being open about their contempt for democracy and norms. I think that if they manage to steal the Presidency again it will embolden them to keep cheating in ever more blatant ways.
posted by sotonohito at 11:27 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


I can't speak for every MeFite, but the thing I took issue with is his whole "The problem is that no one is protesting! And my evidence is...that no one protested this guy getting shot at a protest!" First of all, that's not true. Plenty of people protested. They just didn't protest at the specific intersection that Haique wanted them to protest at.

Thanks for clarifying, btw, rednikki. That makes sense and I can agree with that take.
posted by Lonnrot at 11:29 AM on September 2


Which is why it's puzzling to me why there isn't a full court press media campaign against Trump.

"The press" isn't a guy in a cheap suit with a press pass tucked into the band of his fedora anymore. A lot of the most influential like Maggie Haberman and Chuck Todd are millionaires whose interests might be different from yours. The media outlets are owned by billionaires.


Billion-dollar media conglomerates are not as a rule looking to become multi-million-dollar media conglomerates by immediately alienating half their audience. I would say approximately 100% of opinion pieces I have read online that suggest possibly locking children in pet cages is something we should ease back on, or that maybe doing This One Weird Trick with a piece of cloth to reduce the spread of disease might be good, are followed by comments declaring that this is fake news and why is this paper allowed to print such slanted reporting and it stood be shut down. I occasionally remind people of the distinct between news and opinion pieces, and indeed point out that even before the headline is the word OPINION in all-caps but not much success there.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:01 PM on September 2


I think that these tendencies were always there, and the right wing media they saw reinforced something they already believed, so they were more comfortable expressing it.

I would agree with that point. I'd add that right-wing media take a kernel of something and stoke it in bizarre and arbitrary ways. My brother, god lovem, now has an intense hatred for Brie Larson. This was a direct result of the media he consumed. I'd argue that he was mildly chauvinistic to start, and these shows/podcasts have taken that and metastasized it into full-blown extreme misogyny. Ian Danskin has a great series about this phenomena.
posted by ishmael at 12:05 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through that, corvikate.
posted by ishmael at 12:38 PM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Here's what the article says:

> People didn’t pour into the streets of the capitol, by the millions. The nation’s intellectuals and columnists didn’t call for the head of state’s resignation. The opposition didn’t immediately start a global movement to observe these abuses of power.

Haque is clear on what he thinks should have happened. And were we the city of Paris, rather than the United States of America, that might have happened. A general strike. A total work stoppage. If you have to go to a specific intersection, in a specific city, to see protesters, it's hard to see the protest as a big deal. It's a lot harder to ignore if all the stores are closed (specifically essentials like supermarkets, during the pandemic), and the roads closed. It's a lot harder to ignore if everyone is close to someone participating or is supporting them in some way, not just a family friend's child who got liberalized when attending a liberal arts college, but that also the staunchly conservative uncle that you don't really get along with at Thanksgiving. That we, as a nation, can't strike - too many of us are too tired after work, too busy with a side-hustle, unable to, or just plain unwilling to - is our apparent and unfortunate reality. (Thank you to all that participate in civics by protesting, left and right. There will be protests where we're on the same side, in principle.)

Things have been bad for a while, not just 2020, and not just since 2016. HOWEVER, secret police disappearing people is fashy dictator stuff that couldn't happen here - except now it has. Where are the calls for impeachment? Never mind Congress, where are the right-wingers who were scared by the conspiracy theory that Obama's plans for secret FEMA concentration camps? What has been laid bare is just how anti-black this country still is, and how much that is the guiding principle for many. We managed to moved past the era of American Apartheid with the national legalization of interracial marriage in 1967 but we're still a long, long way from Black Lives (and their supporter's lives) Mattering, never mind actual equality.

Hopefully there's a silent majority that agrees that a secret police disappearing people is hugely problematic, and that we don't get bogged down on the definition of "disappearing" people, like we did with "concentration camp", and that there's better voter turnout than usual. Even with how contentious the 2016 election was, only about 55% of voters voted.

Sorry to let my cynicism show, but with all the noise being made about mail-in ballots, all that has to happen is for a storage unit full of (fake) filed in mail-in ballots to be "found" at an opportune moment. It doesn't even matter who's name is filled in on the fake ballots, it doesn't even matter how fake they are, or who rented the storage locker, their mere existence will be damning. Pull the curtain 10 days before the election, and there's not even time for them to be proven fake. Actually stealing the election is difficult, but you don't need forever to pull off a coup. Just enough confusion and some murdering in the right places to form United Red States of America and cement power. That sounds far fetched now, but so would the actual existence of a secret police that disappears people in the USA.
posted by fragmede at 1:11 PM on September 2 [15 favorites]


Following up on my first comment about Haque cherry-picking an irrelevant poll to opine about Kenosha:
@DaveWeigel: The head-turning number in this new Fox poll: Taken entirely after Kenosha unrest, it has Trump down 5 points in Wisconsin on “policing and criminal justice.”
posted by Going To Maine at 3:52 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I was under the impression we were banned from traveling most anywhere due to the virus. Is this incorrect?

Traveling and immigrating are different. This is true in the US too. If you do manage to get a visa right now (it is possible in some categories) you will be allowed to enter. Tourist visas/etc are more restricted, although there are in fact places Americans can visit.

So if you do have a way to get an immigrant visa somewhere, they may let you in even if you wouldn't be allowed in on a tourist visa or visa waiver.

My wife and I have been talking again about moving back to her country. I cannot enter as a tourist, but if I apply for a spousal visa I would be allowed to move there.
posted by thefoxgod at 4:37 PM on September 2


It sounds like a good idea on paper, but it runs into human nature at a crucial point. I have a feeling that the right-wingers you speak to weren't brought to the right wing simply and solely because of something they read or saw; on the other hand, I think that these tendencies were always there, and the right wing media they saw reinforced something they already believed, so they were more comfortable expressing it.

I think this is fatalist hogwash. There is a deliberate brainwashing scheme in the US called Fox News which exists to take a multitude of bad thinking and create slippery slopes which all lead to TRUMP WILL SAVE YOU and SOCIALISM IS THE DEVIL. These slippery slopes were explicitly created by billionaires and think tanks. A lot of people have anti-elite sentiment, how is it that almost none of it has been pointed at corporate CEOs, but much of it has been pointed at university professors and climate change scientists? Why is rage against outsourcing not directed at outsourcers in the US, but at an abstract entity like China? Why is "job killing immigrant" hate directed at the immigrants themselves, rather than the owners who hire them for substandard wages and break labor laws? There are a lot of ways that xenophobia, misogyny, and anti-elite sentiment could be expressed, some of which could further progressive goals. None of that happens because we live in a media ecosystem with only a continuum from Capitalist to Fascist.

Racism, I will grant you, is a deep seated US pathology that runs pretty much into the root of the culture here and would be very hard to redirect.
posted by benzenedream at 6:17 PM on September 2 [22 favorites]


If you wish to go somewhere and NOT apply for asylum, then you'd be doing so via illegal immigration, in which case you'd need to decide if you want to hire smugglers or not.

Huh? The idea that you would hire smugglers is a bizarre strategy. If you are someone with a US passport, you can just get on a plane and go to pretty much any (well, maybe 90%) of the countries in the world. Then, once you are there, you just overstay your visa and don't leave. That is the "illegal" part... But getting in, you can do that part no prob, please do not waste money on smugglers!
posted by Meatbomb at 8:23 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


(current COVID situation notwithstanding)
posted by Meatbomb at 8:27 PM on September 2


I just started watching the HBO/David Simon adaptation of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. Not sure I will be able to get myself to finish watching it before Election Day. And depending on our election results, I don't know if I will ever want to watch it all the way through.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:55 PM on September 2


What has been laid bare is just how anti-black this country still is, and how much that is the guiding principle for many.

The most shocking thing to me is the way police violence and even executions have been normalised. It just doesn't make sense. It's as though Americans are living in a war zone.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:36 PM on September 2 [13 favorites]


how is it that almost none of it has been pointed at corporate CEOs, but much of it has been pointed at university professors and climate change scientists?

This isn't new though and isn't unique to the US. It has been studied, and I believe one conclusion is that people can imagine that they could be rich, but find it hard to imagine becoming a professor or scientist. Also, people generally like Disney/Amazon/Apple/Google/Nike and hate their teachers.

Hate is probably too strong, I meant they may have some bad memories from school.
posted by chaz at 10:07 PM on September 2


It's as though Americans are living in a war zone.

nothing 'as though' about it -- an impression I've been conscious of since at least my third acid trip (late 1980). John Lennon had recently been murdered Ronald Reagan had recently been elected president ...
posted by philip-random at 10:34 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


how is it that almost none of it has been pointed at corporate CEOs, but much of it has been pointed at university professors and climate change scientists?

Standard American anti-intellectualism.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:18 AM on September 3


It's as though Americans are living in a war zone.

Exactly. "Killed for not obeying a command" is the kind of thing you expect from an occupying army, not from ostensibly-local police.
posted by Slothrup at 5:59 AM on September 3 [10 favorites]


So. I ask this sincerely.

What can I do?

I am already planning to vote - I always have. I have signed up to be a poll worker. I have joined protests. I have donated money to campaigns. I speak with people on social media, and persuade them to examine the President's claims with a critical eye. I am building connections in my neighborhood and my city. I write and call my congressional representatives.

Apparently, if the above can be believed, this is not sufficient. So what should I be doing right now?

Should I be looking into preparing to flee the country? Should I buy a gun? Should I [insert other thing I didn't think of here]? Should I pay to St. Jude?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:18 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


Seconding EmpressCallipygos question.

Because I'm unsure if any of what we're doing will actually work and maybe it's the American individualist BS infesting my brain but I can't help but think there has to be **SOMETHING** we can do to save ourselves. I'm just not smart or educated or whatever enough to figure out what that one weird trick to save democracy is.
posted by sotonohito at 9:19 AM on September 3


if it's any consolation, my Canadian perspective is that, in general, the so-called American progressive left isn't making the same fundamental mistake it made four years ago of not viewing a Trump presidency as remotely likely ...

(and please, let's not get into re-litigating who did what as a result of this overconfidence)

But rather, we're getting pieces like this ('We Don’t Know How to Warn You Any Harder. America is Dying' has also landed rather hard on my Facebook), which could be overplaying the doom hand, which could be laying down a sense of despair that will accomplish the same end as the overconfidence of four years ago ...

The key word being "could".

Because who knows beyond ... ?

I am already planning to vote - I always have. I have signed up to be a poll worker. I have joined protests. I have donated money to campaigns. I speak with people on social media, and persuade them to examine the President's claims with a critical eye. I am building connections in my neighborhood and my city. I write and call my congressional representatives.

Because I certainly don't buy this part:

Apparently, if the above can be believed, this is not sufficient.

I guess I believe that folks just have to do what they can, actually fucking do it, and not worry about the 'what ifs' which will play out in time, for better or worse. And the more we despair, the more we don't get active, the more likely it will be worse.
posted by philip-random at 9:55 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


What can I do? I am already planning to vote - I always have. I have signed up to be a poll worker. I have joined protests. I have donated money to campaigns...[etc.]

To anyone doing all this: you're doing a lot. If you're worried that it won't be enough - take a week off, recharge, exercise, sleep well, and come back later; because you've got at least 2 months to go. Maybe it won't be enough, but it's what you can do right now.

And maybe it will be enough.
posted by mistersix at 10:41 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


re: what can we do -

Do what EmpressCallipygos plans to do, if it's easy and accessible to you. Vote, volunteer to be a poll worker, protest, contact representatives, build local connections and relationships with your neighbors.

Beyond that - prepare for systemic failure. Don't expect institutions you've taken for granted to still be around and functioning or on your side. This is already happening. Prepare for shortages in food and medicine. Keep an eye out for the people in your community. Learn basic first aid. Grow some food or herbs and spices if you've got the space, time and spoons. Not to feed yourself or your family - that's really hard and pretty much full time work - but to offer to friends and neighbors, to help cement relationships. A lot of people doing this kind of stuff have no idea what systemic failures look like. They have this fantasy that they can bug out to the woods and live a self-sufficient life off the land. Relationships and communities are the only way people pull through crises like this. Learn how to handle guns and basic firearms safety - guns are expensive now and whether owning one is wise is up to you, but the US is full of them so having some basic knowledge is a good thing.

Are there tree planting or detrashing initiatives near you? A lot of you here have the class markers and professional connections to organize. Reach out to groups like the Sunrise Movement or local chapters of the DSA - they're good at figuring out something for you to do.

We're at a historic inflection point. There are a lot of ways things can go right now and most of them are grim. There's very little we can do as individuals or small groups to steer things. This clashes both with the US sense of individualist can-do spirit and with the unrelenting optimism of US culture. Letting go of hope would be a good thing, right now. Hope can be an impediment to change. Many people simply hoped that Trump would lose and he didn't. I don't have much hope that many have learned the right lessons from that. I'm not advising that anyone embrace despair but I'm hearing too many plans dependent on "when we have a vaccine," "when Trump is gone," "when things go back to normal." Things will not go back to normal. Those other scenarios are hardly guaranteed. Live and act toward the future you want, but live and act in the world as it's happening right now even more.

Listen to poor people and people of color. They've been living with growing systemic failure for decades to centuries. A lot of people understand the toxicity of optimism and the acceptance that there's little we can do to affect change, but a moral imperative to act toward better futures regardless. This is a hard time. Be wary and recognize the myriad actual dangers, but be kind to the people you know. Everyone I know is exhausted and scared. Helping them when I can is about the only thing keeping me going now.

Be ready, also, to keep doing these things and more even if Biden wins. I will admit right now I am not optimistic about that. Even beyond Trumpists' blatant, overt attempts to dismantle US democracy... there is a very real possibility that he could legitimately win again. If he doesn't, though... none of this is over. The damage done and the weak points exposed in US democracy by his administration must be patched or we will be here again too soon and the worst outcomes are inevitabilities. Biden represents a light tap on the brakes. Nothing more.

Be as safe and kind as you can. Do what you have to to keep from panicking. Hope for the best if you need to, but plan for the worst and don't allow your hoped-for outcomes falling through to knock you off balance. Look into direct action and mutual aid in your community. If there's anything, it's probably very fragmented right now, but that stuff will be more important.

Act. Live. Notice the nice moments when you're in them. As a wise man once said, there is no getting off this train now - so enjoy the view and do what you can for your fellow passengers, more than anything. Do everything available to you to do. Let go of both hope and despair as much as you can and just do.

But also - don't beat yourself up for not having the time or energy or resources to do. Do what you can. Don't worry if it's "enough." It isn't. Do it anyway. What I do these days is very little, mostly struggling to keep up with my work and struggling to keep my mental health intact. That's about it. If that's about it for you, that's fine. Hope, despair, the sense of never doing "enough" - throw them away and do what you can.
posted by Lonnrot at 10:42 AM on September 3 [29 favorites]


Here's a message that needs more press: Donald Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus has been way more deadly to cops than antifa, BLM, or every other combination of things put together. The three top reported cause of death for cops in 2020:
COVID-19 101
Gunfire 31
Auto crash 15
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:35 AM on September 3 [11 favorites]


philip-random, your observation is straight out of the national security playbook of demoralizing your enemy before the battle is half the won

i've also been seeing some old skool cold war shit from the 70s going down in Africa

someone handed the braindead an old manual for regime change
posted by infini at 12:06 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Farhad Manjoo has a piece in the New York Times that is calmer, clearer and less cherry-picked but still has the same message as Haque's. I know this is frightening for many people to consider, but for myself it helps me feel less crazy to see other people who understand how states can collapse into authoritarianism and domestic instability are seeing what I am seeing.
posted by Lonnrot at 12:54 PM on September 4 [5 favorites]


I've often seen someone in these kinds of threads say, "We need a General Strike." They don't mention that it takes skills and practice to win strikes of any sort, much less a General Strike.

Union organizer Jane McAlevey is offering an opportunity to acquire those skills, in online Strike School starting September 24. I took the pilot training that this upcoming Strike School is based on, and the one after that. The training sharpened my thinking, gave me effective tools to apply IRL, and reconfigured my mental health for the better. Ordinary folks can fight back and win.

McAlevey: "In a capitalist system there is nothing more powerful than workers withdrawing their labor. Nothing."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:57 PM on September 7 [7 favorites]


I like Al Gore, but I've never forgiven him for caving when he did in 2000.

He went to the Supreme Court and lost (in a bullshit decision). That's as far as he could have legally gone. What else was he supposed to do?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:29 AM on September 8 [8 favorites]


This thread is fading and I don't see much point arguing about the 2000 election here.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:52 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


The best time to argue about the 2000 election was twenty years ago, but the second best time is probably not right now.
posted by box at 12:58 PM on September 8 [10 favorites]


I think it is important to remember that while the fascists seem to be fucking everywhere, that is largely a false narrative being spun precisely for the purpose of demoralizing us. They are being given (and are gaming systems to take) more exposure than their actual numbers warrant.

Facebook actively promotes right wing bullshit to the top of your feed. Whether that's because more clicks = more time on site and thus more money or because Zuckerberg actively supports Trumpism, the end result is the same. Twitter has a raft of bots amplifying right wing bomb throwing that they refuse to do anything about. TV and print media thrive on sensationalism, so they again amplify extremism over anything else. Even here, despair and confirmation bias lead us to believe that there is no mushy middle too concerned with their immediate lives to be aware of what is actually going on, just as they have always been.

That's not to say that there is no cause for concern, there clearly is. There is not, however, a vast army marching on us, there is a relatively small conspiracy trying to convince us that it's already over, the occupation is here, and the only thing we can do is give in to their demands. Right out of the black ops playbook.

If we are prepared to risk our lives in what amounts to a one-sided shooting war, we ought to be prepared to risk our lives to drop our ballot in the box on election day. It's a lot safer than getting shot, even with COVID, that's for sure.
posted by wierdo at 3:06 PM on September 12 [9 favorites]


I feel like this is preaching to the choir, and MetaFilter is such a hope-free community in the first place that all it's done is confirm our worst fears. That's not to say it's not true, though. Just ... it increasingly feels like we're passengers on a runaway train, and good for you if you have options and exit strategies, but a lot of us don't. All we can do is adopt the brace position and hope we survive.

America has spent so much stigmatizing refugees that even liberals can not consider it a possibility.
posted by srboisvert at 4:47 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


More like people are being realistic about the options of another country that *isn't* on the same train accepting them as refugees from the US.
posted by tavella at 7:49 PM on September 12


Where could I go even as a refugee? The only realistic options for refugee Americans are Mexico and Canada. Literally every other nation on Earth requires either flying there, or at the absolute least driving through Mexico to get there. The cost to be an American refugee sneaking into, say, Germany is simply beyond the average person's means.

Canada would theoretically be the best option, since they speak English there. Mexico is closer to me, but all of my family's job skills are tied closely to English. Even if we were able to afford moving there illegally and taking any job at all to survive I'm not sure they'd really be interested in hiring illegal gringos even as janitors. The job market in Mexico is pretty tight right now.

And Canada would be difficult since the population is so low any significant influx of refugees would be shut down quickly.

And that's ignoring the part where, thanks to Trump, almost every nation on Earth is closed to Americans for health reasons. Even if I had the money for plane tickets we can't even vacation to New Zealand, or France, or Germany, or Australia, or whatever, and overstay our visas because none of those nations will let us in thanks to Trump's mishandling of COVID!

It isn't that as a comfortable lower middle class American I just can't conceive of being a refugee, it's that America is so isolated getting out is really damn hard even with money.

Most of us can't run away. Maybe a few rich liberals can, but that's just not an option open to the average American.
posted by sotonohito at 7:56 AM on September 13 [9 favorites]


will cuba let americans defect there what if those americans have useful/rare skills what if those skills might be applicable to national security do you have to hijack a plane to get there or are there still commercial flights oh also who at the cuban embassy should one get in touch with before one tries to defect asking for a friend
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:30 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


sotonohito, I suspect that's why so many white collar Africans have a sneaking admiration for the Mediterranean migrants
posted by infini at 10:29 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


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