Leaving is Easy. Fighting is Harder.

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Kate in Siracusa

I moved back to America for many reasons. I wanted to be closer to friends and family; I wanted the familiarity of an environment I knew; I wanted to date people who had more in common with me. After more than five years on the road, it was time.

Conversely, I left Boston for lots of reasons — one was when Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat went to a Republican in 2010. It was the fourth in a series of setbacks that I took as a sign that it was time to leave Boston.

And so I traveled — and kept America at a distance. I was in Paris when Sandy Hook happened, crying my eyes out about those poor babies from my hostel bed. I voted but otherwise ignored the 2012 election (beyond “binders full of women” memes), watching Obama claim victory from a rental van in Cape Town. I was in Sri Lanka as Ferguson burned, in disbelief at a fellow blogger who would write, “Don’t worry about #ferguson when you could look at these elephants!” to get more likes on Instagram.

I kept America at a distance too long. I wanted to come back and fight. On the ground, in person, not just donating and signing the occasional petition online.

And now the fight is bigger than I ever imagined.

Ometepe Road

On Leaving

In every election, there are always cries of “If _______ wins, I’m moving to Canada!” — regardless of a person’s ability and/or desire to actually do so.

Now, more people can actually leave the country than ever before. All very privileged people, yes, but there are many more of them. More people are working online, either for themselves or as a remote employee. With thousands of blogs, books, and guides out there, more people are realizing how to make this dream a reality.

Now — is that a bad thing? Not at all. I love when people travel more, and the world is better for it, too. But there’s a refrain edging out lately that has been bothering me.

I’ve spent a lot of time in digital nomad hotspots like Chiang Mai, Medellín, Bangkok, and Berlin. Those cities (and many others I haven’t visited, like Playa del Carmen and Oaxaca) are teeming with American expats. Like any other group in the world, most of them are awesome people with a few assholes thrown in.

But there is a certain kind of American expat that you meet frequently while traveling:

A person who says, “I just don’t fit in America anymore.”

A person who ignores the news at home, but is always quick to share, “See? America’s fucked,” when anything goes wrong.

A person who chooses not to vote.

A person who says, “So glad I don’t live there anymore,” when anything bad happens.

A person who donates neither money nor time to any causes in America.

A person who completely forgets that there are vulnerable people in America.

A person who believes that they have no duty to help anyone besides themselves.

A person who says, “None of this matters — I’m living it up in Thailand because I’m smart!”

In nearly every circumstance, these people who left home are among the most privileged. They did not escape because they were in danger; rather, they left because America wasn’t quite what they wanted. These people are very often male, nearly always straight and white (though there are a handful of gay people and a few people of color), who earn more than enough money to get by, even if it’s just in Thailand. Politically, they’re usually ultra-liberal or libertarian.

Soon, “Woohoo, I can get healthcare for cheap here!” takes the place of, “Shit, if I don’t vote, 20 million of my countrymen could lose their health insurance — I can’t let that happen.”

Soon, “Hell yes, I’m so glad there are no guns here!” takes the place of, “I need to contribute to get assault weapons out of the hands of criminals.”

Soon, “Good thing I don’t have kids!” takes the place of, “How can I get my representatives to protect the planet?”

It’s the selfishness that bothers me the most. Despite the cultural aspect of living in another country, expats often dwell in a bubble of easy work, cheap alcohol, nightly gatherings, and picking up locals, socializing exclusively with people exactly like them. When you’re in a setting like that, it’s easy to forget that anyone else exists.

I find that attitude cowardly.

Salento Colombia

I was never that bad, but I fully admit that in my first few years of travel, I was too self-centered for too long. I was barely eking out enough money to get by and didn’t donate to any cause at home. I spent my mental energy on refugees in Thailand and Agent Orange victims in Vietnam rather than the needy at home. I stayed mostly away from the news. And every day, I congratulated myself for getting out of America, away from the expensive healthcare and threat of gun violence.

Something changed a few years ago. I’m not sure what it was — perhaps a greater awareness of privilege. Over time, I realized that I wasn’t doing enough to help my countrymen and had to step up as a person.

Cape Town Helicopter Ride

Leaving America is one thing. Leaving America and choosing to ignore it is another thing entirely.

I understand leaving. If you feel unsafe in America, please do what you need to do to keep yourself and your family out of danger. If your healthcare is in jeopardy, get yourself where you can get proper care. And you know what? If you want to leave for fun, that’s okay, too. Living abroad is a wonderful experience and it will change your life. So is travel. And it was good for me for so long.

For consistency’s sake, I should mention that I wrote a post a few months back called 15 Ways to Leave the Country if Donald Trump is Elected. It was intended to be in jest. Oh, how little I knew.

There’s something to remember, though: travel bloggers may extol the virtues of leaving, but coming back to fight for your country is admirable as well.

And so I decided to come home. Because I’m just about as privileged as a woman can be, and that means nothing if I don’t use it to help others. I’m sick of watching on the sidelines, donating my money from a distance. I want to be on the ground as well, standing up for my fellow citizens who are having their rights attacked.

I’ll still travel on shorter trips (it’s how I earn my living!), but NYC is home now.

Santorini Flowers

Ways to Be a Better Expat and Traveler

Overall, stay involved. Educate yourself. Donate your time and money to causes that help the most vulnerable.

Here are things you can do whether you’re traveling, living abroad, or at home:

If you’re a woman of childbearing age, get an IUD. Birth control will become more difficult to access in January. IUDs are effective for years and come in both hormonal (Mirena) and nonhormonal (Paragard) forms. Talk to your doctor (not me — I’m not a medical professional) for more information.

Set up monthly donations to organizations that help the most vulnerable. I’m a monthly donor to Planned Parenthood; some other options are the ACLU, Campaign Zero, and the NAACP. Jezebel has a great list here.

Vote in every single election — no exceptions. So much of what affects our daily lives is done at the local level. Research the candidates for city council and school committee on up. Order an absentee ballot in advance. Don’t only vote when it’s for president. And the 2018 midterm elections are particularly vital because there will be redistricting in 2020. IWillVote.org is a good resource.

Follow your elected representatives online and communicate with them on the issues. Facebook and email are two good ways. Reach out to them frequently when you have concerns.

Talk to your Muslim, black, LGBT, Latinx, disabled, or immigrant friends and let them know that you see them, you’re there for them, and you’re there to help them however you can.

Listen without being dismissive. In the days since election, stories have risen about white children telling their Latinx classmates that they’re getting deported and Muslim women being afraid to go out wearing their hijab. Listen carefully and try to understand.

Speak out in the face of injustice. This is not the time to sit back and not make waves. Speak out on everything from catcalls on women to homophobic jokes to racial epithets. Let people know that you won’t stand for it.

If you’re in America, document injustice. If you see the police detain a person of color, get out your phone and video it. That is your right and it could save someone’s life.

Encourage your elected officials to create public health insurance available at the state level. I benefited from “Romneycare” while living in Massachusetts; if each state has a “medicare for all” plan, it will protect against changes to Obamacare at the federal level.

Pay for real journalism. The media’s role in the 2016 election will be debated for years to come, but in the internet age, quality journalism will not exist unless it’s funded. Pay for an online subscription. I love the New York Times in part because they have the best community management on the web and only thoughtful comments are published, unlike other news sites whose comment sections are dumpster fires.

Try to understand the other side. More than anything, this election has shown that rural white working class Americans have long been misunderstood and overlooked. As usual, I’m starting my research through books. I’m looking at White Trash and Strangers in Their Own Land. All were published this year. It’s imperative that we get to know the other side instead of just painting them as racist, homophobic misogynists.

More suggestions are here from my former landlord Dennis, who walks the walk when it comes to social justice.

Bergen Norway

It’s Okay to Be Upset

Now is a very tough time for all of us. I haven’t felt this much grief, fear, anger and confusion since I was 17. I just saw a truck drive by with “Ferguson” on it and I burst into tears, worrying now that more black men, women, and children are going to be killed by the police for no reason and any chance we had of the government doing anything about it is gone. Hillary’s billion dollars earmarked for police retraining and plans for body cams are gone. It makes me feel ill.

We need to take action — but we also need to grieve. Grief is unique and everyone is on a different timeline. Be patient if it takes a long time for you.

We Can All Do This Together

When you decide to travel, you decide what kind of citizen you’re going to be. Before you leave, I want you to know what I wish I knew when I left — that the responsibility you have to your fellow countrymen doesn’t vanish as soon as you leave the country.

You can still be involved, and technology makes it easier than ever. You can #RiseUp and fight for America from anywhere in the world.

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89 thoughts on “Leaving is Easy. Fighting is Harder.”

  1. I understand your point, but living in NYC amongst people who mostly share your political persuasion, does nothing to reduce.the clustering of votes that makes blue states bluer and swing states become redder. People whose work is location independent should truly consider.moving to places like Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, or Arizona, that have vibrant cities, wonderful outdoors experiences, and trending demographics that could bring more states into play in 4 or 8 years

    1. I think that if you’re looking to move to a new place, people should absolutely take a look at swing states. There are lots of wonderful up-and-coming cities that are also very affordable places to live. I have a New York friend who recently rode a bike across the country (!!) half-looking for a new place to live and he ended up falling for Tulsa and moving there!

      That said, I waited years to live close to my family and friends again. I need them, they need me, and I’m not giving that up for the sake of adding one vote to a swing state. I don’t think location-independent people are obligated to place political impact above all other factors in choosing where to live.

      At the same time, beyond moving to a swing state, I think the more important thing is to create a political platform that appeals to *more* of the American people.

  2. Good Stuff. I’ve been following your travel posts for a long time and still will. I may be at complete odds with much of your political stance, but that’s fine. I like to see people on both sides of the issues respectfully get involved. Like you said, I think it is important to try to understand the other side(both sides) of the debate, and realize people do choose differently for legitimate reasons other than being racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynists, etc… terms which too many try to paint the other side to attempt to dismiss their stance. The presidential elections continue to prove just how diverse the USA is.

  3. Thank you for putting into words many of my conflicting feelings about staying vs. going, about traveling vs. working for the better good at home.

    As a longtime citizen of one of the reddest of red states (Oklahoma), I feel like I’ve had an up-close-and-personal view of many Trump supporters, including some that I love. I still can’t wait to read those books–Hillbilly Elegy has been on my reading list for months, and it seems more important to read it now than ever.

    1. I’m now a third of the way through Hillbilly Elegy and I like it a lot. It’s very illuminating. I felt like I understood what these people were going through on an intellectual level, but reading a memoir about it really helps you understand and empathize in different ways.

      1. “Hillbilly Elegy” is a book that is endorsed by the New York Times as “6 Books to Help Understand Trumps Win.” This explains why it is a best seller. People actually believe that if they read this book then they will understand, in full, why Trump won the election. You also mentioned a book called “White Trash”, is this one of the other 6? The New York Times is a very liberal publication and this sounds like another one of their attempts to defame and pigeonhole Trump supporters. One book written by one person doesn’t represent an entire group of voters, not by a long shot. Though I respect this man who had the courage to write his memoir, not all Trump supporters consider themselves to be “hillbillies”, “white trash”, “rednecks”, “homophobes”, “mysygonists”, “Islamaphobes”, “ignorant”, “uneducated” or “holy rollers.” Did I miss any? The point I’m trying to make here is that if you truly want to understand why people voted for Trump, TALK TO THE VOTERS! You’re a traveler, start a campaign and travel to these small towns (in both red and blue states) and create a documentary and post it on your website. I bet it would get a lot of hits. I think then you would have a more accurate understanding of why people voted for Trump. No offense, but you really need to get out of New York (physically and politically) and experience more of America. You would have a lot more fans if you wouldn’t sound so biased with your politics. Even President Obama and the Clintons said, “give him a chance.” You should at least do that, even if it is a hard pill for you to swallow. After all, Trump IS your new president. So let’s make America great again, together.

        1. America has always been great, Jeff.

          And a few other things:

          –Hillbilly Elegy was a bestseller long before the article you mentioned came out.

          –Of course my opinions are biased. Opinions, by definition, are biased. That’s why they’re opinions.

          –“People actually believe that if they read this book then they will understand, in full, why Trump won the election.” Really? Who believes that? Intelligent people know that no book serves as a full and total panacea. It’s helpful in understanding an oft-maligned part of America that is rarely shared in mainstream media, and that’s what makes it so fascinating.

          –I’ve only lived in New York for a few months. 😉

          –“You would have a lot more fans if you wouldn’t sound so biased with your politics.” I’ll take my chances.

  4. Kate, just love you. I love that you have the courage to speak out (even when many may not find your take on things popular.) I love that you are zealous for what YOU think is right but just as zealous in your search for the understanding of others opinions. I love that you love to travel but also love the comfort of home…not just because you like the comfort of it but because you feel a connection to it and a responsibility to it.
    You are truly unique. We have vastly different takes on life and many things but I see your posts each week and even though I’m often preoccupied and tell myself I’ll just open it and read it later…a few sentences later I’m drawn in to your “story.”
    Thanks for letting me and others into your life. I feel that my spirits are raised and I can enjoy travel through your insightful posts and beautiful photos.
    Don’t mean to sound all mushy or anything but I believe we need to be told when we make a positive impact on others.

    1. Teri, this is such a kind comment. Thank you for your kind words and for being such a faithful reader for so many years. 🙂 I’m going to save this comment for when I need a pick-me-up! Now I’m inspired to tell some other bloggers how much I enjoy their work.

  5. Lots of good suggestions here. I especially like the comment above about moving to these places that tend to skew red and making a difference there. I live in such a place, formerly the “reddest” county in the country. But this year, Hillary won the county. Not the state, but still. Adding these reading list and looking into the groups to support.

  6. Kate I know you have an opinion on politics and I respect it. However I don’t share it and I get the feeling that you don’t respect other view points. I like your site and I look forward to reading it. For me its an escape you live a life many dream of. However if you want to turn it into a political opinion I would rather not read a thing you say. Thats me. Keep up the great travel work and please leave your politics in NY.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ron. Like it or not, politics deeply influence travel. I’m not changing what I write about. If you don’t like my posts that are more political, I suggest you skip them and stick to the posts you like.

  7. Thank you, for your wonderful writing and willingness to post on issues that many blogs ignore. It’s so imperative that we all get involved to help our country and communities during the difficult years ahead, and your use of your blog as a platform to provide specific and meaningful ways to do that is so appreciated. I’ve always been a fan of your travel writing, thanks for giving me another reason to look forward to visiting your site!

  8. Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I am a 6-year expat still living abroad and the most difficult thing to me has been feeling so alienated from my own country. An I will admit that my knee-jerk reaction was “I’m never going back.”

    I am married to a non-American so I will stay abroad for more reasons than that. But the election made me realized that this IS my county. I can acknowledge that this man has been elected president but I cannot accept his rhetoric. Today, I’ve given to Planned Parenthood and Black Live Matter. However, donations are only one piece. I respect that you have moved back home and agree the fight is hard, but moving to the US is not an option for me right now. If you do have more information about how to stay involved from abroad, please keep sharing it!

  9. HI Kate, I love that you feel a sense to stand by your country! I’m Canadian and feel a big sense of love and devotion for Canada. No matter where I travel too Canada will always been on my heart and mind. I spend some time in the US this past year. I travel to Washington and Colorado State as I have family in these places. You have a beautiful country! Keep fighting the good fight! Sending my love from Vancouver, Canada.

  10. Thanks for sharing, Kate. Don’t “leave your politics in NYC.” Speak out as you see fit, if only to exercise your right to free speech and opinion. <3

  11. Hear! Hear! I totally agree with you Kate!

    I’m not American but a British person. An expat British priveleged person of colour yes, but British none the same.

    This summer, my heart stopped when my fellow Brits voted to opt of out the European Union. And yes, I was angry and upset and even though I don’t usually write about my political views on my blog, I did so in this occasion.

    However, I also wrote a strong post that even though my political system was a shambles, at no point did I deny who I was or where I came. I’m not going to pretend to be any other nationality but my own. I’m British and I’m proud of it regardless of who is in power, and I do a lot of stuff in Germany to keep that British flag flying abroad.

    I wrote the 2nd post to state clearly that even though I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t understand the relevance of leaving the EU, I’m proud to be counted among the number of people who voted STAY, and do.

    And yes, I live abroad and have been doing so for years, it doesn’t change a single thing.

  12. Wonderful write up. I’m so glad you’re a blogger and/or (former) nomad that’s decided to stay. I made jokes about becoming nomadic again (after recently calling Hawaii my home) but I’m serious about staying. I’m a huge supporter of Planned Parenthood…try to take that away from us and we will bite you hard.

    I’ve started mentoring for Big Brother/Big Sister for disadvantaged kids and I’m super excited for it. I’m still trying to help in developing countries such as using Zidisha but realize that our home country needs some love and TLC too.

    I feel this election and the consequences may finally light a fire under our asses. We have been to complacent and figured that it’ll all work out for the best and this is a sign that we cannot. We have voices, a backbone, and intuition and we need to use it. This is not the time to “not discuss politics” because only listening to others and hearing each other out is going to change. Thanks for the book recommendations – I’m heading to Molokai this weekend and need some good reading.

    1. Thanks, Amy. I’m glad you’re staying and making a difference in your local community and the nation as well. <3

      Also, can I come visit? I've never been to Hawaii and I really want to go!

  13. Excellent post. Thank you so much for sharing. Love your recommendations. Since retirement I’ve made a point of becoming more involved in my community and trying to make things better if only in a small way.

  14. I’m British and I hear that litany from expats and long term travellers everywhere. This is an excellent sense-check on what it means to make yourself accountable for making things better for people (and yourself!) wherever you come from and wherever you go. It’s the current political landscape that’s obviously inspired this post, but it’s not especially political in itself – it’s checking yourself against your own moral code and being a good person, and who can argue with that?? Good job Kate x

  15. Kate, I wanted to thank you sincerely for being so politically active, vocal, and informed throughout this election (and even years prior to the election). Seeing you canvass for Hillary on Snapchat was amazing, and I have appreciated every single post you have made about social and political issues (please never stop!). I have so much admiration for you, and think you are one of the very few travel bloggers who puts your words into action. I especially appreciate how you always provide actionable suggestions for your readers, instead of simply whining about the results and telling us to move to another country. You are an inspiration to all of us trying to rise up, speak out, and take meaningful action to protect our rights. THANK YOU.

  16. As an Oklahoman surrounded by Trump supporters who I love, this post made me respect you so much more then I already did. Specifically the part where you mention trying to understand the other side. My friends and family who voted for Trump are anything but racist, homophobic misogynists. I think if we are going to preach about tolerance we have to be tolerant of people who think differently then we do, and one way to help with this is to try and understand their perspective. You seem like a very thoughtful, kind, compassionate, level headed person. This is honestly one of the best articles I’ve read since the election. Oh and your snap chat inspired me to sign up to be a bone marrow donor. Thanks for being so great, I hope you have a great weekend. 🙂

  17. Love this post, and agree with much of what you said. I just returned from traveling in Europe and was in Lisbon when the election results came out. Though I was deeply disappointed by the results (and shared this on my blog), and part of me would love to walk away from it all, I also recognize that leaving and ignoring it all is absolutely not the answer. We have to increase our involvement, engagement, awareness and understanding.

    To that end, I think it’s great you’re reading those books but also wonder if it’s appropriate to travel to these places with the intent of gaining even more understanding. I tread lightly here because I’m wary of looking as if one is exploiting an area or representing a place or people incorrectly, but perhaps there’s an opportunity as travel bloggers to visit areas not often written about or shown. And I don’t mean going to the larger cities within these states but rather the smaller towns where it’s completely normal to see “Make America Great” signs everywhere. I feel like it’s something worth exploring, though in full disclosure I am nervous about doing this sort of thing myself as a woman of color, but I feel like it’s an opportunity for someone who would be able to explore and engage with these places in a respectful way.

    1. Tausha, I totally get what you’re saying and I agree that you would need to go about it in a non-exploitative way and take steps to protect yourself as a woman of color. I should point out that lots of non-traditional cities have been bidding to host travel blogger conferences: places like Huntsville, Alabama (which will host the next TBEX North America), Branson, Missouri; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They see the value in bringing in more tourism. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.

  18. Hi Kate,

    I appreciate your blog and political expression here. There are a few things that I thought you might be interested in hearing that may further your understanding of how/why Trump won.

    I am an independent and have voted Democrat and Republican in the past. I was all for universal health coverage being provided here in the US, but the quality and options have decreased for me and my family while the prices (and deductibles) skyrocketed. I was told Obamacare would be more affordable, accessible, and that I could keep my MD. Turns out all that was not true, at least for me and my immediate friends and family.

    Disillusioned by the lies I was fed about about healthcare and how Wikileaks exposed the DNC stealing the California Primary from Bernie Sanders, I voted for Trump.

    I keep hearing over and over that the people that voted for Trump are rural and white. While that may be true that rural white people voted for him, there are many urban and suburban people that also voted for him. I would say these people, like me, don’t mention it in polite conversation because when we open up we face a form of rage and bullying form otherwise normal and nice people.

    I have heard the analogy that Trump wasn’t so much a candidate for President but a molotov cocktail thrown at the establishment to shake them to the core. To me that seems like an accurate analogy.

    There are some great videos of Michael Moore discussing why Trump won circulating around, he captures the reasons quite well.

    Keep up the blogging : )

    1. John, thanks for sharing, and I’m glad that you felt comfortable sharing your story here. I’m not going to argue with you, but I do ask that you do all you can to protect people of color, LGBT people, immigrants, and the environment, which will all be under siege during a Trump presidency.

  19. Thank you for this. Once my rage and hurt wore off, I had a dozen friends texting and snapchatting me, asking for couch space in my home. Most didn’t vote because of your stated reasons – my state votes red/blue anyway, my vote doesn’t count. I admit that I could have done more to protect those who needed a hand, or encourage more voters at the university I work for to register to vote, but I will absolutely not let someone flee the country because they’re pouting about the results.

    It’s time for people to put their money where their mouth is.

  20. I remember when we faced similar upset over ‘Brexit’ here in the UK. I was two hours away from landing into Cape Town at the time and there were a lot of tears when the flight crew made the result announcement. Some of my friends travelling from Chicago said there were similar reactions when the results were announced on their flight back into London earlier this week. We’ve had a fair few months of speculation, market wobbles, and fear over here, as well as high court rulings causing further upset…

    One of the worst aspects of the whole debacle for me has been witnessing friends and family throw insults at each other (racism and ignorance on oneside, the usual patronisation of left-leaning voters on the other). Your view is refreshing, especially the part about understanding the other side, and I for one hope that the mud slinging stops (okay, eases off slightly, it’ll never stop) in both our countries. I did have my moments of “sod it I’m off to France” as the outcome looked more likely, but then there’s no place quite like home and I do want to see what the future brings for the country I love.

  21. I think another point to make is that the majority of people who can leave the country and head to another because “uggh, Trump” have the means and privilege to do just that. They are not the people who will be suffering the most under a Trump presidency. I definitely include myself in that bunch — I’m white, highly educated, middle class, have a job that can easily be taken overseas and the funds to do so. I’m also straight, so I could pretty much move anywhere and not just countries that grant LGBTQ people equal rights. But at the same time, by moving, we are taking our privilege and our voice that comes with that privilege — a voice that many marginalized people do not have. And then what does that give us? A country full of Trump supporters who don’t seem to have a problem with supporting a man who spouts racist and sexist diatribes and the people they are totally cool with oppressing.
    Of course, I’m saying all this as I am faced with the very real possibility that I may lose my job in January and be forced to move overseas again. Let’s just say Trump’s policies on immigration (and the current anti-immigrant attacks) don’t look so good for the ESL teachers of America.

    1. Absolutely. That’s why I made sure to point out that the people I describe above are the most privileged ones of all. They left the US for fun. Not because they were in danger. It’s always important to remember that.

      I am keeping you and your students in my thoughts.

  22. Thanks for the pep talk. I think we’re going to need a lot of cheerleading in the years ahead.

    As always, Kate, thanks for your clarity and well-supported ideas.

    Also thanks for putting the power of the local and loving connections in the conversation about travel and experiencing the larger world. Beautiful.

  23. I really needed to read this, Kate. <3 I think I am very much in the grieving stage but am gearing up for the fight. I've also had the run away instinct but realise as a white woman with lots of privilege and a good job in Boston I really enjoy, it is more important than ever for me to stay and work for good right now. I so admire your attitude toward this new challenge.

  24. Maybe I’m the odd one here, but I’m still failing to understand why Trump winning the election is such a disaster to so many people. To me it’s just another politician, albeit a newcomer in this case, and I’m truly shocked by how intensely people suffer from this phobia that “the wrong lizard might get in”. Did people really buy that much into the exterior packaging of all these candidates? Did people seriously believe that Hillary is a saint and that Trump is the devil?

    At the end of the day, Trump-president will be a completely different person from Trump-candidate. Just like Obama was. I wonder if anybody remembers how Obama was promising the most transparent administration and fair treatment of whistle-blowers, and then how he turned 180 on Snowden and the surveillance state. And the countles promises he reneged on.

    It will be no different with Trump. There will be no deportations, no bans on Muslims, no wall, no Obamacare repeal, and none of the other promises will get fulfilled either. Trump was just a masterful showman, a reality TV star with plenty of experience in how to tap into the electorate’s basest fears and impulses, and he just told middle America what it wanted to hear, but he did it with so much flair, pomp, and drama, that people really bought it. Actually, the Left’s real contribution to Trump’s election was the constant outrage and shock at all of his antics, which gave them credibility and made him so much easier to sell.

    The irony of all this is that a reality TV star beat professional politicians like Hillary at their own game, but that’s all. Don’t expect anything to really change when he become president…

    1. Hi Jess,
      For me the issue is not whether or not he will act on the promises he made during his candidacy (although I seriously hope he does not). But that by doing so he incited violence, hate crimes, and outspoken bigotry. To me, his election is a sign of normalizing bigotry and that is why it is so upsetting to me. He said things on a massive scale that have influenced many people that he can’t take back whether he changes his rhetoric or not, damage has been done. I worked in a middle school where children were bullying other children who were ELL students that they would be deported and the children cried. I was a big Hillary supporter but I do not think she is a saint, just a flawed person who I believe was deeply qualified to run the country. You of course, are entitled to your opinion and I respect it. I just wanted to speak to the questions you had from my personal opinion and experience.

    2. It might not be a big deal to you, Jess, but it is a big deal to people of color, LGBT people, immigrants, and people who love any of those people. Trump has pledged to erode the rights of these people.

      You might think Trump the president might be different from Trump the candidate, and I have no doubt he will be different in some ways, but I think the most disturbing thing so far is that he ran an incendiary campaign igniting racial hatred and one of his first hires for the White House is an actual white supremacist. So yes, it is a very big deal.

  25. Thank you for saying that we should try to understand the other side. I live in Tennessee and it had been brutal for me to be online and see all the hate directed at rural people. Are some the things we’re being labeled? Yes. But most aren’t. They are just struggling people. You’re one of the first bloggers I’ve read to acknowledge that and it brought tears to my eyes. So thank you.

  26. I can see you point of expats not “caring” anymore about what happens in America but what upsets me the most is the amount of Americans in America that DO NOT CARE about anyone but themselves. It’s sickening. I’ve been so depressed and scared since Nov 8th. I will fight but man….things just don’t look good.

    Love your blog and it’s nice to read someone who thinks the same way I do.

    1. That upsets me too, Jill. I’ve had a number of people say, “Why do you care? You have nothing to worry about,” and it blows my mind that a human mind can even work that way. How can you NOT care about others?! What happens to a person that makes him or her think that way?

  27. Thank you Kate!!! As a lesbian woman living in North Carolina, you don’t know how much I appreciate this!! I do hope more people move to our beautiful state and help undo the hate that our Governor has put our state into.

    I hope to see you as a fellow Pant Suit Nation member someday. Want to talk about fighters? Join us. We’re over 2 million and going. <3

    1. I am a proud member of Pantsuit Nation, both national and NYC!

      I was glad to see that your governor was not reelected. As soon as the ridiculous bathroom law is repealed, I’d love to visit North Carolina, perhaps Asheville for the weekend. It’s the only state on the East Coast I haven’t visited!

  28. Hi Kate,
    Thank you so much for speaking up about the important issues. And for handling complaints about it with grace and poise. I have been so affected by this election and I am at a loss of what to do. I have been planning a dream trip for the spring, one that would take about 6 months to complete and now I am not sure if doing the trip is selfish or if I should pursue full-time work at a non-profit or school where I can make a difference.
    Anyways, In my effort to make an impact I set up at tee spring store selling shirts that say MAKE AMERICA TOLERANT. 100% of proceeds go to PLANNED PARENTHOOD. It is not much, but it is a start.

    Let’s keep our heads up together!!

  29. I am a Canadian and ignored all electoral information, pictures, debates and conversations for the last two years because I just couldn’t handle the idea of the choices you were all given. I have had such a hard couple weeks having to read through the painful posts after posts on facebook about the results. Your post was really heartfelt though, wonderful to read after all the garbage back and forth! Stick by your country xx

  30. Not sure if someone already mentioned it, but Dog Whistle Politics is also a great read (or, at least, I think it is– I’m only halfway through the audiobook version so far).

    Also, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I think it’s incredibly important to speak up about these issues, despite the fear of making waves or offending others, and I admire you for doing so to such a wide audience. By standing up for your convictions so publicly, I know it will inspire others with a less public circle to do so, as well.

    Although I voted solidly blue, my family back home in rural Oregon is bright red and I’m having some anxiety about what this means for all of us. I have a feeling it is going to take a lot of bravery, patience, and honesty over the next months and years to reach a place of tolerance, understanding, and compassion– on both sides.

  31. Thank you for writing this wonderful article. I have been away from home for the past 8 months and I have tried my hardest to stay connected to the goings on in America. I woke up that Wednesday morning and immediately burst into tears. Utter shock hardly begins to describe my mentality. While there are parts of me that are appreciative of the distance, I am now more homesick than I have been since my departure. I want to stand with those fighting for what I believe in. I feel more connected to my fellow Americans now more than I have in a long, long time. I think it’s important that we fight harder now more than ever. So thank you for the enlightenment and the reassurance and the advice!

  32. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Although I’m not American, Hong Kong is going through a similar political situation. You raise up a point I never thought of.
    – Charmaine

  33. If you want to get to know “the other side”, try taking a road trip across America and visiting some of these small towns and meet some of the people who voted for Trump. I believe that will give you a better understanding of “the other side”, than simply reading books titled “Hillbilly Elegy” and “White Trash.” These books have derogatory titles that sound as though they may be biased. I could be wrong. I’m not sure if you noticed the exit polls, but a third of Hispanic voters voted for Trump and about 45% of female voters did as well. I enjoy your website, but you don’t want people to think you’re a snobby New Yorker. Just saying.

    1. Just 14% of LGBT voters voted for Trump / Pence. And let’s not forget Pence because for LGBT voters he might be scarier than Trump.

    2. You might want to actually take a look at the books before making your mind up about them based on the titles, Jeff. Hillbilly Elegy in particular (the only one of the three I’ve finished so far) is a memoir by someone who grew up in the region, loves his roots and family, and uses the word “hillbilly” with pride.

  34. I can’t believe someone would actually post: ““Don’t worry about #ferguson when you could look at these elephants!” to get more likes on Instagram.”
    I think it’s particularly difficult, though, to balance political activism while also creating and establishing your brand online; it’s less of a risk to do so once you have an established following.

    1. I agree with you on both counts, Cheri. That blogger may not have faced consequences that day, but enough people say it and were disgusted by it that a great many people won’t work with her.

  35. Nice post. I’m originally from Wisconsin…. let the fun begin. Interesting to read you went back. I can relate to being many of the kinds of American expats you meet on the road. It was my study abroad experience 30 years ago that was the pivoting point for me. I knew at age 21 I would be living somewhere else. Thanks for your post you brave lady. Hope it goes well. xx

  36. Very interesting article. Although, I think I took something different from this post.

    Years ago I managed to get myself stuck in the old system of living to work, a few years ago now, I decided to start working to live. Since adopting this new philosophy, I crave the life of a nomad, free from the shackles of urban life. I very rarely encounter people like yourself, who live the nomadic life and choose to return home (especially during times of political turmoil).

    It’s a new and interesting account, and I’m sure it wasnt an easy decision, but then I guess everybody has their reasons, and you’ve certainly argued your corner here!

  37. hey 🙂

    Thank you for writing this blogpost. Not just with a view of Trump is bad America is fucked. But with actual helpful insights that can help the American people and their country.
    I myself am English and although i was angry and upset about the election. I got over it. I’m not American. Of course that is just silly, America effects us all, thank you for reminding me on that.

    Keep fighting for an equal and just world.

    Safe travels 🙂

  38. What a great post. I’m especially in favor of voting – always, every single time, even (and maybe especially) when the choice is difficult. This was a difficult election – because both candidates had good points and both candidates had bad points. Now that it is over….we need to come together and work hard to continue striving towards greatness in every facet of our country.

    As you’ve discovered, you CAN travel and be very grounded in your home country. This is a great way to teach children about the world. Show them you are interested in cultures all over the globe AND your own. We can make the world a better place and understanding it, seeing it, relishing in it, is a great place to start.

  39. You’re a good and reflecting person. I live in Sweden, and I can tell you that we couldn’t believe what we read and heard when we woke up that Wednesday and found out that America had elected Trump.

    What we need now is to actively spread love and compassion, from all over the world. Here in Europe we also see nationalist parties grow and their hatred spread. It’s horrifying, but we must believe that there are enough good and brave people around too turn this around. And we must make our voices and actions heard, not just sit in our own cosy homes and whine.

    Thank you for being you.

  40. Bear in mind the US is very different to other countries. US citizens never lose their right to vote.

    For Australians & Brits, just to take two examples, only residency gives you voting rights. So it changes how emigrants sometimes see the situation. Many of us, while we understand it, feel slighted. We’ve effectively been told by our home country we have no right to participate anymore just because we now overseas.

  41. Thanks for your thoughtful post. It really gave me pause today, the day after the inauguration. My husband and I are living in Japan so he can study Japanese, and we have applied for a temp residence because he wants to stay longer (he has family here). But if we don’t get it – or after we spend a little more time in Japan – we have to decide where to settle. We have been leaning towards another city abroad, but your points are well taken. A part of me does feel that we should go back to the US and support causes that are important to us, and I’d rather “do” than “give money.” Lots to think about, but thanks for sharing your perspective.

  42. Voting is trivial with online voter registration and overseas voting. So even if you are a digital nomad or full time traveler, it’s easy to still participate in politics in the USA. This is also true for volunteering time, donating to an organization, etc. This can all be done online so traveling is not really a valid excuse. It’s simply a matter of priorities.

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