Anything that helps you feel more in control is a good thing.
To say it’s been an interesting week would be an understatement. Polls had been predicting Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election by wide margins. Then, when the votes were tallied, the unbelievable happened: The American people elected Donald Trump as their next president.
Millions of us were shocked. I mean, what about all those polls? How the fuck were they so far off?
Since Tuesday evening, my Facebook feed has been full of talk and jokes about making plans to move to another country?—?usually Canada. Oh, and you should know I’m gay and live in San Francisco, so the majority of my Facebook friends are progressive and had supported Clinton.
One of my friends told me he absolutely had no intention of staying in this country for the next four years. Another shared that even if she didn’t actually move to Canada, having a plan and knowing about the costs and logistics would make her feel better. Even my own husband?—?who was born in Canada and now has dual citizenship?—?mentioned that we could move back to his hometown should things in this country get really bad.
At first, I brushed off all these comments, dismissing the notion entirely. It’s silly, I thought, to give up on the United States and make hasty plans to move to another country. Who would actually do that? Studies have shown that expecting the worst can make you feel, well, even worse. So, how does entertaining the thought that life will become so horrible under a Trump presidency that you’ll need to flee really make anyone feel better about the future? Plus, what good does it do to make plans for something that you’ll probably never actually do, anyway?
It’s not just my own friends and social media acquaintances, though. People across the country are wondering about the feasibility of moving north.
On election night Americans crashed the Canadian immigration site. Searches for jobs in Canada skyrocketed to ten times the rate of previous nights. The official Immigration New Zealand website also experienced a high volume of traffic from American IP addresses.
And look at real estate broker Jeff Cook, who put up a sign offering to help sell the homes of anyone wanting to move to Canada because of the election. He claims he’s been getting hundreds of calls every hour, and that many people are also asking him questions about how to get immigration papers.
One thing is certainly clear: Hundreds of thousands of Americans want information about what options they have outside of this country.
A lot of people are scared about a Trump administration?—?and rightfully so.
He’s sexist, racist and xenophobic. He’s made frightening campaign promises and intends to appoint Supreme Court justices who could limit women’s rights or repeal marriage equality. Additionally, Trump’s running mate and soon-to-be Vice President Mike Pence has committed to abolishing birth control mandates and repealing policies that protect transgendered Americans.
Those of us who didn’t support Trump, and had been hearing for weeks that he had little to no chance of actually becoming President, were flabbergasted by the outcome of the election.
Opinion pieces tell us it isn’t right to abandon the country because you don’t agree with the outcome of an election. Other articles warn it’s not necessarily so easy to move to Canada, that you might have to pay both US and Canadian taxes, and?—?potentially the biggest buzzkill?—?there aren’t Targets in Canada.
But you know what: It isn’t all that silly to think about moving to Canada.
The polls were wrong. Trump’s win was a surprise to almost everyone—even many of his supporters weren’t expecting him to get the number of electoral votes he received. So those of us who didn’t support Trump, and had been hearing for weeks that he had little to no chance of actually becoming president, were fucking flabbergasted by the outcome of the election.
Humans have a deep need to feel a sense of control and the election results have taken that from many of us. We feel a sense of uncertainty over what the country will become when Trump takes office, and now have a lack of trust in polling and election predictability.
Psychologically speaking, we don’t really need control, per se, but we need to feel a sense of control. Meaning: The desire to feel like we have some type of autonomy is often deeper than the drive to actually pursue it.
The surprising results of the election left many Americans without a feeling of control and doing research (even if it is half-assed) about moving to Canada has given us a way to once again feel we have some authority over our futures.
It doesn’t matter if you actually move or not.
For many, simply reading information about Canadian immigration on Wikipedia, or searching for job opportunities on Indeed, can contribute to achieving a sense of volition. Even if in the back of your mind you know that it’s unlikely or close to impossible, having a rough plan to move, should the country go to complete shit, is giving many people the comfort they seek.
It sucks (IMO), but Trump is going to be president in a few short weeks. Our nation is more divided than ever and people across the country are scared about the future. So to anyone who is reading this: You officially have my permission to do whatever it takes?—?within reason, obviously?—?to get through the day. Even if it means making impractical plans to move to Canada, because anything that gives you a sense of control in life is a good thing.