Updated on November 14, 2020.
After the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden in September 2020, Google reported a peak number of searches for ‘How to apply for Canadian citizenship’ in the USA. It got me thinking. I’m Canadian. And European. Yet, I live in the USA as a permanent resident with a ‘green card’. What am I doing here if even Americans want out?
I grew up in a cold northern Canadian town. I never liked the winters. I always thought there had been a mistake in the stork logistical distribution network! I was not meant to be born in the snow.
I’m adept at scuba diving. Breathing air underwater over the reef of the Florida Keys is much more enjoyable to me than ice diving! I engage in every water sport there is. I engage in no winter sport whatsoever.
Therefore, “moving South” was always part of my plan. And I did. To the US South-East. Florida. I kept telling friends that I moved to the land of the free and the palm tree! I loved it.
I thought I would stay down there until the day I die.
Today, I filled the I-407 Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status form and mailed it, alongside my ‘green card’, to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
First, let me summarize why I moved to the USA. It was not just for the weather.
Why I moved to the USA
As I grew up, ‘America’ was the land where everything was possible.
If there were a problem, Americans would fix it — in a big way. If there were an opportunity, Americans would be all over it — in a big way. ‘America’ meant ‘confidence’. America was bold. Successful. Big. Innovative. Strong. Proud.
The Americans were our big, bold cousins. As a Canadian, I felt safe sitting next to such a reliable superpower. We could always count on the USA.
The USA stood tall as the flagship of our Western civilization. Sure, the CIA did quite a few questionable missions around the world. And there have been some unjustified wars. But we voluntarily chose to put our heads in the sand over those. We can forgive a few transgressions by an overbearing but friendly family member! Overall, we wanted to see the USA officially carrying the flag of democracy and human rights.
In recent years, the role of the USA became even more significant as the USSR ceased to be a significant threat. The cold war was over. We won! Thanks, Big Brother! The World was ours!
Why I can no longer stand being in the USA
America is no longer ‘big’. It thinks small. Inward. It’s petty.
It kisses dictators' feet. It’s an example of everything that is wrong with democracy. It’s unchecked capitalism growing like cancer inside a weakening society. It’s religious fanaticism. And it is uncaring to many of its own citizens.
The USA is scary! It may always have been some sort of a bully, but now it’s an ignorant, unleashed bully.
In a country where science has so often been used to create so many innovations used worldwide, science is now 2nd chair to ‘beliefs’. If it rains, a sociopath will find a way to claim that it is not, and ‘followers’ will blindly ‘believe’ this new ‘god’ of theirs. If such behavior was marginal, it would be understandable. But ridiculous beliefs are often adopted by close to half of the American population!
It’s as if ignorance was celebrated as a value.
It’s OK to be ignorant. It’s OK to be illiterate. It’s OK to not enjoy reading and learning. But when did it become the norm to believe that I know it all after reading 2 posts on social media?
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” ~Stephen Hawking
It seems to me that historically, not everybody pretended to know it all. The illiterate blacksmith would refer to a scholar when discussing topics beyond his area of expertise. Both the scholar and blacksmith had important roles to play in society.
Nowadays, it’s as if everybody pretends — worse, believes — they are a scholar. There is no search for the truth. Everybody is born with infinite knowledge of everything.
The origin of this phenomenon can probably be traced to a lack of education — and a dumbing down of education for those getting some. ‘Reading comprehension’ is no longer comprehended. Improper education is for the rich. And the poor shall remain ignorant and submissive.
“Financial poverty became emotional poverty became intellectual poverty became cultural poverty became social poverty became political impoverishment.” ~Umair Haque
Look at the current pandemic. Or climate change. Or economic disparities. Or racial discrimination. Discussions always evolve toward what some questionable leaders ‘believe’. Facts are irrelevant.
The real news is dismissed as fake news, while misinformation is flourishing all over social media. There’s never been an easier time to be a demagogue.
Millions of Americans are choosing to ‘believe’ coronavirus doesn’t exist. Take a second to think about that! Beliefs are all that matters nowadays. Science, be damn.
Meanwhile, right in the middle of a pandemic, instead of improving healthcare insurance and services to take care of its citizens, the American government is hard working at destroying its current system with no plan for what will come next — damn if people die! Like in so many other issues the USA is currently facing, it has no solution, just excuses, political verbal diarrhea, and obsessive political ‘party lines’ created years ago and disconnected from today’s realities.
Caring for one another is perceived as evil, even by religious groups. Talk about a twisted unreal state of affairs! They certainly didn’t read the same bible I did.
In that sense, the USA is no longer a free society where everything is possible. The USA is a society where ‘fanatic beliefs’ drive everyday life and, especially, keeps the poor in a submissive state to ensure a comfortable and increasingly outrageous life for the rich. Today’s America looks strangely like a feudal system where the vassals have been convinced it was in their best interest to feed the rich while the family is starving.
In the USA, the famous ‘American Dream’ seems to be the carrot to keep the poor in line. Don’t change the system! You may be poor and dying but you have a chance of becoming a billionaire one day — maybe a thousand-year after you died, or something like that! Stay in line and help us keep the other vassals in line.
And, of course, as it has been the case throughout history, religion is the other tool used to keep people in line and in fear.
We even see religious fanaticism in the proceedings to nominate a supreme court justice.
In any other civilized country, nominating a judge is a human resource question. We need to select the best person for the job — just like we do for any public servant job. But not in the USA! In the god-fearing, money-kissing American society, it’s all about politics and religion.
“Imagine that there was a woman who had agreed to submit to her husband, who in turn had submitted to the head of a sect” and that “everything was done as a crusade for God, and if you weren’t one of the pure, you were going straight to hell.”
“If that woman was a Muslim, we’d call her, rightly, a fundamentalist — and say that she belonged to a sect so extreme it rivalled the Taliban. That’s who’s about to have a seat on America’s Supreme Court. Since she’s a nice white lady, she gets a free pass — but she shouldn’t.” ~Umair Haque
Of course, not every American is an ignorant, misogynistic, heartless bully and religious extremist. I still have many good friends in the USA who are decent, reliable, intelligent, intellectually curious, empathic people. So what is going on?
I don’t know for sure. I just know I was feeling too much shame in being associated with such a degenerative society. Among my Canadian relatives, friends, and colleagues, the opinion of the USA has dropped to its lowest level in nearly 40 years.
I can’t get my head around the fact that there is still about 40% of the American population thinking it’s good to have a President who is a lying womanizer (Addendum on Nov. 7: 47% of the 2020 Presidential election vote went to Donald Trump).
It’s no wonder 40% of women younger than 30 would like to leave the USA. It’s simply disgusting. It’s as if the #MeToo movement didn’t achieve anything.
And people who could do something about it, do nothing. They are busy kissing the Dear Leader’s feet to comfort his fragile ego and feed his hunger for affirmation. Democracy is not even on the table. It’s now all about a cult of personality.
“What’s more alarming are the people that are sitting on the sidelines watching this happen. Are they under some kind of spell? They seem completely stunned, unable to take any action while the basic tenets of America’s democracy are falling into shambles.” ~Rebecca Stevens A.
Author Indi Samarajiva issued a clear warning to Americans: “I have lived through collapse and you’re already there. Until you understand this, you only have further to fall.”
For a country that spent years fighting for democracy and against religious fanaticism linked to terrorist attacks, it’s mind-boggling to see the American governing class becoming an amalgam of fanatics of various flavors following demagogues and would-be dictators.
Beyond the USA
I’ve left the USA. Done. But I’m still extremely concerned. What kind of society am I leaving for my kids? What kind of planet?
Over the last four years, instead of creating jobs in new clean-energy business sectors, we kept promoting coal! ‘SMH’ as one would say on social media.
And what is the Western civilization heading toward?
Instead of defending democracy around the world, the USA has made it a joke in its own backyard. The President of the United States of America has refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power and is spending his post-election days putting submissive friends in positions of power all over the government, including the military. Think about it! A couple of years ago, if we had seen that in a movie, we would have laughed it off as total fiction.
Around the world, the fact “that the president of the United States, the very country that shepherded the birth of Germany’s own peaceful democracy after the defeat of the Third Reich, was wavering on the sanctity of the electoral process has been met with disbelief and dismay.” ~Hannah Beech
It’s no surprise that dictators are feeling more empowered than ever before. China is taking over the world. Putin is laughing and doing whatever he feels like.
Prior to the November 2020 American presidential election, Canada was preparing for possible disruptions following the election. Ouch! This is the type of headlines we are used to reading about third-world countries — or countries trying to get out from under a dictatorship.
I fear my kids will live in a world where Western civilization will be reduced to a small enclave in some parts of Europe and America, in an otherwise feudal world controlled by Beijing.
And all of that because the land of the free and home of the brave has become the land of the selfish rich and home of the dumb bullies. Don’t these people have kids too?
Can the USA be fixed?
The USA is in such bad shape at the moment, it’s hard to see how it can dig itself out of the whole it threw itself in.
“American life is by far the worst in the rich world. In many respects, it mirrors life in the poor world. Americans live vastly, vastly worse lives than Europeans or Canadians — an outcome that wasn’t once true. And yet today, Americans live up to half a decade less than Europeans, and that gap increases by the year.”
“Canadians and Europeans have a middle class that has prospered — while America’s middle class imploded, becoming a minority in 2010.”
“America is one of the angriest and most stressed countries in the world. Suicide and despair have skyrocketed, while Europe enjoys the happiest societies in the world. Americans suffer illness and disease at higher rates, and then have to pay the crippling costs of healthcare. As a result, the average American now dies in $62,000 of debt.” ~Umair Haque
Umair asserts that this November 2020 election is Americans' last chance at joining the modern world. Is it?
Even if Americans change their president and go with somebody with a bit of decency, the damage is done. (Addendum on Nov. 7: Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election but the worse may be yet to come).
It’s like a murderer coming out of jail. It’s hard to change your life because people will always see ‘the murderer’. The USA has lost its luster. It has lost its credibility. It won’t come back. Pity has replaced fear when it comes to the Ununited States of America.
Think of it as a nasty divorce. The USA asked to divorce the rest of Western civilization to go to bed with dictators. And it did it in a nasty way. Even if America regrets it and wants to come back home, life will never be the same. Love and trust were broken. The nastiness of the divorce will always remain. The best one can hope for is to be civil for the benefit of the kids (in this case, the planet).
For more than two centuries, “the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the U.S. until now: pity.” ~Irish Times, via Wade Davies.
The entire world will suffer from this failing of the USA for years to come.
How can the USA restore its credibility and power around the world when the Biden presidency may simply be a reprieve. A Trump-like era of international chaos, disregard for the environment and human rights, improvisation, and bullying may be back in four years. No Western democracy (except for the USA, it seems) like to play ping-pong and yo-yo with lives.
We are all witnessing the Great American Implosion. Leaving the USA is just a plaster. The cancer is there, and it will affect the entire planet.
Exit the American dream. Enter the American nightmare.