As the results rolled in last night and the electoral map turned into a red splotch on our televisions screens, liberals began to panic. Celebratory champagne sat unopened in the fridge. A black cloud settled over social media. The disappointment of Hillary Clinton’s loss was almost too much to bear for some suddenly horrified Democratic voters. So they turned to our sane cousins in the north: Canada.
In the early morning hours before Trump’s victory was confirmed, the Canadian immigration website crashed. New Zealand’s website also reported a bump in traffic form U.S. nationals hoping to snag a visa. Immigration officials told Reuters that since November 1, the New Zealand Now website, which handles requests for student and residency visas, has received almost 1,600 new registrations—50 percent more than the site gets in a month.
While many of those visits may have been a knee-jerk reactions (remember that plenty of liberals threatened to do the same when George W. Bush was elected), the trend points to a dispiriting lack of faith in the America that remains faithful to Hillary Clinton and her values. What this country needs now is not more derision and shattered hopes, but a show of solidarity against whatever bigoted and regressive plans Trump has in store for the next four years.
In the wake of this disastrous presidential election, the urge to bolt to a quiet green field in New Zealand or a peaceful snowcapped mountain in Canada may be strong. But people of color, especially immigrants and those who live below the poverty line, do not have the option to leave their homes when things get tough. These are the people that will be most deeply affected by Trump’s policies, if he keeps his word, and abandoning them to his policies would not just be misguided; it would be cruel.
Over at Slate, Will Oremus urged liberals to forget about Canada and move to a swing state. He echoes the message circulating in the media right now: Stay. Fight for the values of this country that you think Trump threatens: marriage equality, reproductive rights, a balanced supreme court. Support U.S.-based organizations that advocate for people of color and LGBT+ people with your wallet and your voice. Demand that those who need health care aren’t left to suffer through illness alone. And in your own communities, vocally defend your Muslim neighbors, your lady friends and anyone else abused by Donald Trump and his frightened and belligerent constituency. Maybe you’ll even help change their minds. You can’t do that from Canada.
It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to feel grief-stricken. In one of the most challenging moments of this country’s history, Americans have the opportunity to show the world that some of us—over half, according to the popular vote—won’t give in to bigotry, that we are courageous enough to stick with this place even in its ugliest moments. The initial shock will fade. Once it does, get ready to fight.
We aren’t done yet.