With news of Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s impending retirement, many of my American friends have more seriously and openly started considering moving out of the US. A Supreme Court stacked with conservative, Republican-picked justices is a Supreme Court that’s a danger to women, minorities, people with disabilities, Muslims, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized groups. It’s easy to see why there’s an increasing desire to move away from the United States. And, to be honest? Having done it myself, I can tell you it’s a great option. I encourage anyone who wants to move abroad to look into it. I didn’t move for political reasons, but it is as valid a reason as any.
That being said, I’ve seen some backlash in comments on social media against moving out of the US. “You should stay and fight.” “You’re a coward if you move.” “Not everyone has the privilege or the means to move.” I’d like to address these, from the perspective of someone who has taken that leap and moved abroad.
1. “You should stay and fight.”
Frankly, I have an issue with this argument. Firstly, it’s a misnomer. You can still be an active member of “the Resistance” no matter where in the world you’re currently calling home. How? Well, for one, the best thing you can do to resist a tyrannical government is to VOTE, and to encourage others to vote. And guess what? That’s right, you can still vote from abroad. You continue to stay registered in the last place in the United States you lived, and can continue to vote in local, regional, state, and federal elections via absentee ballot (some states even allow you to vote online!).
You can also help get out the vote from abroad! You can phone bank. You can send mail, such as postcards, to prospective voters. You can help register people to vote, both at local meetups of American expats AND online.
Other popular things to do as an activist and informed voter? You can still call your representatives. (Google Voice makes this super easy, and free!) You can still donate to politicians you support and organizations that are doing charitable and resistance work. You can still fight with your conservative relatives on Facebook. You can still volunteer. You can still participate in rallies and protests, too! (There was a protest against the separation and imprisonment of children in front of the US Embassy here in Berlin just last week.)
Honestly I could probably write a whole blog post just on ways to be politically active from abroad. (Does that interest you? Let me know in the comments!)
2. “You’re a coward if you move.”
I don’t understand what is cowardly about protecting yourself and your family. Were the Jews cowardly to run from Nazi Germany? No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think they were quite brave considering the lengths they had to go to to escape.
For people in these marginalized groups, like me, staying in the United States can become a dire, life-or-death situation. It’s not cowardly, at all, to think about ways to ensure your personal safety. With this in mind, it is pretty much impossible to help others if you, yourself, are injured or impaired. If the government of the United States is moving in a direction that is physically and mentally dangerous to you? Moving out of the US is a valid option and you are NOT a coward for considering it or choosing that route.
3. “Not everyone has the privilege or the means to move.”
Yes, this is 100% percent true. There are definitely people and groups out there that do not have the means to move. PoC and Muslims have much less mobility to travel overall, and many people cannot afford passports, let alone an international move. I think we can all easily acknowledge that this is a problem that does exist.
However, I do not think this fact invalidates the option for the people who do have the means, especially if they also fall into a marginalized group that is a target for hate crimes and current or future unfair legislation.
Also, something I’ve noticed that people don’t seem to consider is that having friends who have been able to move abroad can make it easier for others to move as well. You could open up your homes outside the US as a safe haven to your friends and family. You could help friends and family with immigration paperwork. You could even possibly sponsor them, depending on the country and its’ immigration laws.
Photo Credits: Statue of Liberty photo by Aaron Burson on Unsplash