Monday, October 31, 2016

Why I'm Likely to Move to Canada, Regardless of Who Wins the Election

Entitled, white, protestant, straight men may struggle to understand why a successful American attorney and inventor of almost 200 issued patents, one who has sold or licensed his inventions to major corporations, one who has represented clients from individuals to Fortune 50 companies, would emigrate to Canada, tears in his eyes.  They may particularly struggle to understand this if he lives in California and if Clinton wins.  There is good reason, and I owe it to my friends to share my thoughts.

Let's start with some demographic facts:
(1) My family is composed of myself, my wife and three daughters.
(2) Two daughters are 7 and 9, and are the children of my current marriage.  Those daughters are Jewish.
(3) One daughter is 15, and is a child of my first marriage.  She is Jewish and Latina.
(4) I was born in Montreal, Canada, which makes all of us Canadian citizens with the exception of my wife.
(5) I've lived in the United States since I was 8 years old.  I have very few natural memories of living in Canada (I do have memories that I attribute to stories told and photographs shown when I was older).
(6) I have a metabolic muscle disorder that I've detailed on my CPT2 blog.  Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"), I refused to have a formal diagnosis that would show up in my medical records.  I preferred to remain insured and insurable (and not have a "preexisting condition" that would preclude insurance), even if it meant I didn't get proper medical treatment.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act's prohibition on using preexisting conditions to deny insurance, I opened up to my physicians about my CPT2, and it is now part of my medical records (and those of one of my daughters).

I currently have insurance, so under California law, even with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (you know, the Trump/Republican promise to remove millions of people from the rolls of the medically insured), I would be ok.  So with any normal Republican candidate, this wouldn't be enough to get me to move.  Of course, if the "repeal and replace" includes a requirement that out of state plans be permitted, the policies from states least consumer-favorable will become the only ones available, in which case I might have to move to keep my insurance -- but that's speculation and a distant contributor to a need to move to a single-payer nation like Canada.

The real problem is not with Trump winning, but with what the Trump campaign has done.  Truly, not even what Trump has done.  Rather, the problem is with what Trump has made socially acceptable.  Racism.  Antisemitism.  Islamophobia.  Misogyny.  Taking away hard fought gains by the LGBT community.  Questioning whether a peaceful transition of power is acceptable.  Questioning democracy itself.

There have always been deplorable elements and indefensible goals of our society.  The United States fought the Revolutionary War in part to protect slavery (though I'm not questioning the revolution, just those who supported it for the sole purpose of preserving slavery).  The Constitution itself counted slaves as 3/5ths of a person.  Japanese-American U.S. citizens were sent to concentration camps during World War II.  Slavery lasted until the conclusion of the civil war, and it took another 100 years to pass a law that put the descendants of slaves on even close to even legal footing.  Jewish refugees from Hilter's holocaust were turned away at the border by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration, returned to die in Europe.  Even U.S. citizens have indiscriminately killed fellow citizens in bizarre protest against the government.

Despite this history, until now we've been a nation of laws.  Now that Trump has undermined confidence in our election system (even those controlled by Republicans) and has refused to accept peaceful transfer of power to Clinton should she win, the doors are open to civil unrest, a return to the days of cowardly acts of racism, and even organized attempts -- suggested by a major party candidate -- to assassinate a President.

Now that these deplorable elements of our society have been encouraged to come into the light, to bask in Trump's dog-whistle nods to racism, it will be years, perhaps decades, before the targets of that hatred again feel safe in their own nation.

Is it an overreaction to move?  I answer that with an analogy:  If a doctor said that there was a 5% chance that I would develop terminal colon cancer if I didn't have a polyp removed, a single man would be dumb to just take the chance. In the same circumstances, a man who has three daughters relying on him would be guilty, in my opinion, of an immoral and cowardly act by risking orphaning his daughters simply for the sake of fear or convenience.

I think there is better than a 5% chance that regardless of who wins the election, the next decade will see a dramatic spike in severe acts of violence by U.S. citizens based against those who are different -- Muslims, Jews, Mexicans, African-Americans, LGBT, well, you get the idea.  I think there is a near 100% chance that the condemnation of sexual assault victims will result in a rise in rapes and sexual assaults, and will certainly make women reluctant to come forward when the worst does happen.

I refuse to raise my children in such an environment.  They need to grow up knowing that there are no ceilings to hold them back.  That Jews are equal.  That women are equal.  That diversity is a prerequisite to a fair, powerful nation.  That democracy can work.  Maybe I've spent my life in a fog of self-deception, but I don't think so.  I think that all of these things were true (or on the way to becoming true) and that Trump's campaign has taken us back decades.  A Trump administration would cement much of this regressive thinking in law and in the judiciary; a Clinton administration would trigger decades of enhanced hatred and violence by Trump supporters duped into thinking the election is rigged.

In other words, Trump's campaign has left the United States far worse off, and with an unacceptable risk of being an unhealthy -- or worse -- place for my daughters to grow up.

I don't know the time table for a move.  I don't know if it will happen.  I have a lot of friends here.  I'm a licensed attorney here.  I'm working with some fantastic and brilliant startups.  I love this nation, and care deeply about the welfare of my fellow citizens.  But, as my parents wisely taught me, the welfare of my children must always come before my own needs.

It would be impossible to catalog all of the racist, sexist, antisemitic, anti-LGBT things that Trump has said or encouraged.  However, even a sample is enough to terrify this father of children who fall into three groups Trump supporters have demonized -- women, Jews, Mexican descendants (my 15 year old).

Trump and Mexicans:

In his announcement of his run for the nomination on June 16, 2015, Trump said "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

On CNN in June 2015:  "You have people come in and I'm not just saying Mexicans, I'm talking about people that are from all over, that are killers and rapists and they're coming to this country..."

In August 2015:  "The Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. They send the bad ones over because they don't want to pay for them. They don't want to take care of them."  In the same month he retweeted "So true. Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English".

He attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel, an Indiana-born judge first appointed to the bench by a Republican governor and later elevated to the federal bench by President Obama.  About this well-respected judge, Trump said:  “I think the judge has been extremely hostile to me. I think it has to do with perhaps the fact that I'm very, very strong on the border. Very, very strong on the border. And he has been extremely hostile to me. This is a case that in our opinion should have been won a long time ago. It's a case that we should have won on summary judgment….we have a very hostile judge. Now, he is Hispanic, I believe. He is a very hostile judge to me. I said it loud and clear."

"What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc."

His supporters are already citing his influence as inspiration for attacking people they think are Mexican.  They are hostile to Mexico and Mexicans.

Then there is this:
Image result for trump supporter sexist sign

Trump and Jews:

This is a bit more complex, because one of Trump's daughters converted to Judaism.  However, he has done little -- perhaps nothing -- to discourage the anti-Semitic surge among his supporters.

From the New York Times:
She had seen her face superimposed on the body of a concentration camp inmate. She had been called “a slimy Jewess.” She had been told she “deserved the oven.” ....

What had she done to provoke so much vitriol? She posted some messages on Twitter drawing attention to the fact that Donald J. Trump seemed to have a lot of anti-Semitic supporters. 
In some respects, Mrs. Mandel’s story has become a familiar one. She is among hundreds of Jewish journalists who have been the target of anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.
Trump supporters have created a list of around 8,000 Jews to target -- and even created an app to make it easy.  Major newspaper reporters, such as a New York Times reporter, have been on the receiving end of vitriolic anti-semetic hatred.  Jewish leaders are sounding the alarm, worried about the spike in anti-Jewish rhetoric.

Trump's dog-whistle (barely dog-whistle, kind of obvious) claim that Jews are running a global cabal is described well here:
Trump's most recent anti-Semitic remarks were in a speech, and a tweet, last week that included this line: "Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors." Trump didn't need to use the word "Jew." The imagery of a global banking cabal will be familiar to anyone who has read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the anti-Semitic forgery that has fueled anti-Jewish violence for over a century. These are well-known anti-Semitic code words. The speech, typical of Trump's paranoid conspiracy theories, was designed to fire up Trump's white nationalist, anti-Semitic base.
The Times of Israel does a fine job summarizing the anti-semantic triggers that Trump has issued -- and his failure to stand up to the vitriol of his supporters.  See also the Jewish Telegraph Agency article.

There are some dog whistles Trump uses that are so hidden that they play mostly on the mainstream subconscious or among those who already are part of an anti-Semitic movement.

The Anti-defamation league has tracked nearly 20,000 anti-Semitic tweets directed at more than 800 journalists, including such horrible things as "Back to the Ovens!".

Even if Trump himself is not expressly anti-Semitic, as the conservative National Review notes, his wink-and-nod acceptance of anti-Semitism from his supporters shows his willingness to accept anti-Semitism as part of getting to the White House.

Trump's supporters are now resorting to death threats against Jewish reporters.

Finally, just read this article.  Read it.  It documents a concerted effort by Trump supporters to terrify Jews.  Quotes such as this one are described in the article:
"Fucking Jews, calling Donald Trump "violent" while giving negroes and Muslims a pass on their actual violence.  — AdolfJoeBiden™ 🐸 (@Bidenshairplugz) October 6, 2016"
If Twitter existed in the early 1930's, I've got to believe that similar sentiments would populate many hateful twitter accounts.  In the face of this kind of warning, it is difficult to stay.

Trump and Women:

Many sites have already summarized Trump's sordid history with quotes about women.  For example, this Huffington Post article lists 18 very sexist things he said.

The Telegraph purports to track every sexist comment in one article -- and it is infuriating to read.

Then there are the signs, pins, and other things his supporters have created to play on sexist attitudes:

Image result for trump supporter sexist signImage result for trump supporter sexist signImage result for trump bitchImage result for trump bitch
If you have a daughter, mother, sister, wife -- in fact, if you're a human -- how can you support somebody who encourages this from his supporters?

Then, of course, there is the allegation of rape of a 13 year old girl, encouraging Howard Stern to see his own daughter as a "piece of ass", and saying that it is ok to "grab them by the pussy" because famous men just get to do that kind of thing.
Image result for trump lewinsky

Finally, it is worth noting that the nearly impossible task of coming forward with a report of sexual abuse by a powerful man has been made even harder by his team's concerted attack on the more than a dozen women who have come forward with abuse allegations.  Indeed, he has promised to sue them for daring to speak about it (suits that will be dismissed on First Amendment grounds unless he appoints enough Supreme Court justices to weaken the First Amendment).  Interesting how many of his supporters believe the women accusing Bill Cosby but not the women accusing Trump.  Hmmmm.  Wonder if there are any, say, demographic differences between the two?

Trump and Muslims:

In December 2015, Trump said this:  "Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on."  There is a complex history of his Islamaphobia.  He is pretty clear that "They're not coming to this country if [he's] president."

Trump actually embraced the authority that FDR used to send Japanese Americans to concentration camps during World War II:  "take a look at [FDR's] presidential proclamations back a long time ago, 2525, 2526, 2527. What he was doing with Germans, Italians, and Japanese because he had to do it".

Trump has suggested closing mosques -- First Amendment be damned, apparently.

Trump's rhetoric has triggered a substantial increase in violence -- both physical and psychological -- against Muslims, including children.

Worse, he has a bizarre theory that American Muslims secretly know who the terrorists are, and aren't telling.  In fact, he has falsely claimed that "thousands" of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated in the streets right after the September 11 attacks.

Trump and Democracy:

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the election is rigged, that if he doesn't win it is because it was stolen, and that the fix is in.  Of course, in a decentralized election system like in the United States, election rigging would take a conspiracy so massive -- one that involves perhaps a million people across all 3,143 independent election mechanisms in all 3,143 counties in the United States -- that it is more likely that a giant meteor will be elected President than that a Presidential election can be fixed in this cycle.

Worse, Trump has refused to say he will abide by the election results.  This breaks with centuries of tradition and endangers our democracy itself.  I'm not talking about challenging voting irregularities in a state or a few counties, or seeking a recount.  It is unlikely, but possible, to manipulate the results in a single county, and in a close state, that might make a difference.  However, there is a world of difference between what Gore did in 2000 in seeking a full vote count in a single state, and stating in advance of the election, that he will not commit to accepting the results of a democratic election.

And this means....

Sure, Canada has some issues.  Vancouver doesn't let Uber operate.  Their telecommunications regulations are onerous.  They provide weaker speech protections than the US (for now).  The question, though, is not whether "normal" regulatory/legal issues are important.  Rather, it is an existential question about progress in the United States -- have we reached a global-warming-like tipping point where we are destined to sink into the quicksand of racism, xenophobia, sexism, and regression no matter who wins or what we do?  A Johnson v. Goldwater type win for Clinton would go a long way to answering that existential question in a way that makes it safe to stay.  A Trump victory would clearly answer the question with "yes, we've reached the tipping point".  The question I'm trying to answer is where, between those two poles, the safety and sensibility of my daughters require that we move.

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