As we enter the final days of the 2012 campaign, cries from both sides are echoing over the airwaves that the country will not survive a victory by the other side’s candidate. Some Republican die-hards worry that the United States of America will cease to exist as we know it if Barack Obama is reelected. For their part, many dyed-in-the-wool Democrats are wringing their hands over the possible election of Mitt Romney, an event which in their view will destroy the America they prefer.
One airline company – JetBlue – is holding a contest, offering 2,012 one-way tickets to foreign destinations for “lucky” winners who register and vow to leave the country after the November 6th vote.
Such posturing is not new. The vitriol that characterized the 1800 contest between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson makes the current campaign pale in comparison. That contest gave rise to a very real threat of civil conflict and disunion. Yet, the fledgling Republic not only survived, but flourished.
In more recent decades, each quadrennial presidential election has led public figures, including – of course – entertainment personalities, to boast they will “leave the country” if the candidate of the “other” party wins. The well-known acting Baldwin brothers – liberal Alec and conservative Stephen – both have vowed they would depart our shores if the winner was not to their liking; Alec if George W. Bush won and Stephen if Obama bested John McCain. Obviously, neither followed through with their threatened self-exile. Many of their fellow actors-in-arms have made similarly idle – but headline-grabbing – threats; including Barbra Streisand, Michael Stipes, and Susan Sarandon, among others.
The advent of social networking, including Twitter and texting, has given rise to untold numbers of messages threatening all manner of actions, including leaving the country if the November 6th vote displeases the senders. “If Romney wins the election I’m fleeing to Brazil after graduation”; and “If ObamaDontWin Im moving to Ghana” are typical messages circulating in the Social Networking Cloud.
As many have written – including this author – the 2012 contest is a watershed event by any reasonable measure. America truly is at a crossroads. There simply is no way we can hope to maintain our position in the world far into the future, without strong and meaningful measures to rein in the profligate overspending by the federal government that has characterized recent administrations, particularly the current one and its immediate predecessor; fiscal irresponsibility that has pushed us to a more than $16 trillion national debt.