I'm just back from a two week vacation. You probably guessed that from the two week absence of posts. We went to New Zealand, with a four day stopover in Rarotonga on our way home. The main purpose of the trip was to see family and friends, but a lot of fun and touristy things happened, as well. I'll post about those soon.
I expected to get a lot of questions about Trump and his candidacy during this trip, and I did, despite the fact that the Brexit vote distracted people quite a bit. We were frequently asked what we would do if Trump gets elected.
The honest answer is that I don't really know. We've talked about it a bit, but given the current situation, it still seems like an extremely unlikely outcome, so we haven't really talked about it seriously. We said that we'd probably stay, to vote against him in the next election. We are, after all, not in any of the groups most threatened by him, and I feel a bit of a duty to try to stand up for those who are.
We'd probably start moving money to New Zealand, though, as a hedge against things getting worse. Besides, I'd love to buy a vacation property there some day, so it would perhaps make sense to do that, anyway. We'd certainly have more serious conversations about when we'd leave. I take the risk Trump poses seriously. I think he is a threat to our democracy, and I am incredibly disappointed in the Republicans who are acting like they have no choice but to support him. We all have a choice not to support him now, and if we do not exercise it, we risk a future in which we no longer truly have that choice. I really do believe that, and I am not alone.
So if Trump is elected, I'd want to sit down with my husband and define some criteria of what would make us leave. We are lucky to have an easy option for leaving, but we'd still need to recognize when we should take it. I like our life here. I think it would be all too easy to keep justifying and excusing things until one day we looked around and realized we missed our chance to leave.
And then, while we were in Rarotonga and essentially out of contact with the rest of the world (by choice: of course, there are newspapers, TV news, and the internet in Rarotonga, we just chose to ignore them), things got worse. It is very different reading about events like the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and the subsequent attack on police officers in Dallas, after the outcome is known than to follow events as they are happening. Still, I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me want to turn right back around and fly back to the island I'd just left.
But as scary and frustrating as things are right now, I don't think it is time to start moving money or forming a plan to leave. I don't really believe in American exceptionalism. I think we can fall to authoritarianism as easily as any other country, perhaps even easier than some. I don't think there is anything uniquely democratic about us. But I'm not ready to give up on us yet. I think we just need to hold our nerve and keep working to make our country better, keep trying to build a better, more inclusive union while also working to allay the fears of those who feel threatened by the growing diversity that I see as our strength.
I look around and see a lot of people trying to do just that, and while I am dismayed by the slow pace of change and the violence that we're seeing, I want to stand with them, if only by staying and voting and raising my kids to believe in the value of diversity and the need to keep working to make the world a kinder, fairer, better place.
There is a famous quote form a Yeats poem:
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
The center still holds right now. It feels frayed, but it holds. It holds not because of any magical properties of our Constitution, but because enough people are choosing to make it hold. This is going to be a difficult time as the parties hold their conventions and the general election campaign really takes off. Let us hope the center holds, but also remember that whether or not it holds is partially up to us.