Column: In case of a Trump win, I’m weighing my options. Canada? Mexico? Secession?

People make their way towards the CN Tower and Rogers Center in Toronto
Seeing America’s polarization, columnist Steve Lopez figures he might move to Canada. Above, people at the Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Like everyone else, I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting on Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

But regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, we need to stop referring to our country as the United States of America.

Given the political and cultural polarization, nothing could be further from the truth. And I don’t think that’s going to change regardless of whether President Trump is reelected or ousted by Joe Biden.


So I’m weighing the options. Do we just learn to live with it, begin another Civil War, break up the country into more logical pieces, or move to another country?

I haven’t decided which option I like best, but on Tuesday, I registered on the Canadian government’s immigration website just in case. I wanted to be ahead of the rush, but I’m still figuring out whether it would be best to apply for citizenship, a work permit, or a visa that offers the possibility of extensions.

I’ve been to Canada. Nice place, iffy weather, sane people and a much better record of handling the pandemic than we’ve had down here in the states.

Something tells me Canadians would be aghast if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to wear a mask, turned the seat of government into a COVID-19 hotspot, got helicoptered to the hospital with a case of the virus, received treatment available to no one else, then hosted rallies without face coverings and said the public health experts encouraging the use of masks were idiots.

This is not normal stuff, but it did nothing to shake the faith of Trump loyalists. That’s unsurprising, because after four years of watching his bullying and belittling, lying, and coming up short on key campaign commitments, I’m starting to believe Trump’s claim that he could shoot somebody in New York and get away with it.

And even if Biden wins, any attempt he makes to unite the country is likely to fall flat. He’s not the perfect leader, but he seems to be a decent, respectful, civil person, all of which will work against him. He’ll be crushed by the pitchfork crowd, and who wants to hang around to watch that?


Canada isn’t the only option, of course. I’m half Spanish and half Italian and I’ve looked into dual citizenship in both those places. I like Mexico, too, so that’s a possibility. But the boiling planet is only going to get hotter with four more years of Trump’s climate change denials, so it might make sense to move north.

Pete Shpak, a realtor, told me this is a good time to buy in Vancouver, which, by the way, is a great city.

“The downtown is a heavy buyer’s market,” said Shpak. That’s because during the pandemic, business closures have made the downtown area temporarily less attractive. A nice house will cost well over $1 million, Shpak said, but he told me I could find a decent two-bed, two-bath for $500,000 and up.

There’s good news and bad news with that. If you buy a home as a noncitizen, a 20% tax gets tacked on, Shpak said. That would probably make me more inclined to rent than buy, and Shpak said I’d be looking at $2,000 to $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom, two-bath rental.

So what’s the good news?

Shpak is speaking in Canadian dollars. But one U.S. dollar gets you $1.31 in Canadian money at the current exchange rate.

And there’s more good news.

“The majority of people are compliant with masks,” Shpak said of his fellow Canadians.

I asked if he could imagine Prime Minister Trudeau wearing no mask and calling public health experts idiots.


“That’s hard to fathom,” Shpak said.

Election 2020: These states will probably decide if Joe Biden or President Trump wins the race. And their absentee ballot laws could determine when we find out.

Nov. 1, 2020

I like hockey. I like beer. And after waiting four years for President Trump to deliver on his promise of cheaper and better healthcare for all, I’d like to get a close look at out how Canada figured it out.

As I mentioned, breaking up the United States is another option, and no offense to Canada, but I’d prefer not to move.

And in coastal states from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, Biden won handily. Washington, Oregon and California are reliably blue, so why not break away and form the Left Coast Republic? Sure, we’ve got conservative voters, but can you imagine Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell representing California? Of course not. It’s as impossible a notion as Nancy Pelosi moving to Kentucky and getting elected governor.

Californians and Kentuckians don’t live in two different states, we live in two different worlds. Why pretend we have anything in common?

Making it happen, of course, is another matter. A Calexit initiative petered out a few years ago, with opponents pointing out that in addition to legal hurdles and dozens of other challenges, if California seceded it would take 55 blue electoral college votes with it, leaving the rest of the country an even brighter shade of red.

But in April, when I wrote a tongue-in-cheek column about breaking the U.S. into the Commonwealth of God and Guns, the Kingdom of Mar-a-Lago and other new nations, I got a lot of mail from readers ready to join the movement.


“The current state of the union stagnates us in animosity, gridlock and exhaustion for which there is no resolution,” wrote a Pasadena reader named Kathleen.

Neil, a retired attorney, wrote that we could probably get support for secession from a lot of other states “because we are not that well-liked anyway.”

Good point.

One more possibility.

Biden wins, and the red states try to secede.

I’d vote for that.