Ahead of the swearing-in of re-elected President Barack Obama in January, supporters of defeated Mitt Romney have threatened to pack up and move to Canada. According to agency report, this happens every four years, usually right around September. Calls come in from all over the United States from people threatening to flee their homeland if a candidate they despise wins the Oval Office.
“That’s the amazing thing, when they speak on the phone. They’re adamant. They feel very, very strong about it,” said David Cohen, a Montreal-based immigration lawyer. “This government doesn’t speak for me’ is the language that we often hear.” As a partner at the Campbell Cohen firm, which specializes in immigration to Canada, Cohen said he has received these calls for decades.
It sometimes makes him “feel like a therapist because they vent for a while, get this cathartic release.” But when it comes down to it, Americans don’t move to Canada unless it’s for a relationship or new job essentially, love and money. Cohen said he can remember only three of four cases in more than 30 years that involved someone actually making good on their threat to move to Canada to escape an American president.
This election cycle, he said, most of the calls “tended to be conservative or Romney supporters. There were not as many from the other side, so maybe they had kind of a premonition.” It’s all part of the election season’s bluster cycle, and while partisan hot air is typical this time of year, this year’s squabbling has been “palpably ugly,” even if most of it is just talk, said Jerrold Post, director of George Washington University’s political psychology program and author of “Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred.”
“That’s always been the case: more extreme talk than actions,” he said. “You can entertain any idea you want to, but there’s a difference between having an idea and acting on an idea.” “But,” Post added, “throw enough ugly ideas into a pot and something is going to boil over.” Sure, Facebook and Twitter were rife with threats to leave the country if Barack Obama or Mitt Romney won, but we’ve also seen the more serious headlines.
Bryan Fischer of the evangelical group the American Family Association reportedly said last week, “I think there will be blood” if Obama wins. In north Georgia, the president of the Cottages of Woodstock homeowners’ association, a residential community for the elderly, said he would shut the complex’s gates for fear of “negative repercussions (that) may occur because of the results of the election,” The New York Times reported.
In August, Lubbock County, Texas, Judge Tom Head warned that the country could descend into civil war if Obama was re-elected and, as the county’s emergency management coordinator, he considered whether he’d have to “call out the militia” if Obama ordered U.N. troops to quell the uprising. More recently, after Tuesday’s election results came in, real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump called for “revolution!” and urged his 1.8 million Twitter followers to “march on Washington and stop this travesty.”
He further called on them to “fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice,” while proclaiming the country was now in “serious and unprecedented trouble…like never before.” Trump has since deleted the revolution missive. Post noted that Trump was at the forefront of the so-called “birther movement,” which falsely claims Obama wasn’t born in the United States, so he wasn’t surprised to see Trump sound off, but “the intensity of that was rather shocking.”