Winter of Their Discontent

Those relying on the BBC for their news are assuming that the number of people thinking about leaving the United States because of the election of President Donald Trump has soared. In a recent report, they cited social networking data indicating “a 5,000-percent increase in searches on moving to Canada from several U.S. states, including Virginia, Florida and New Jersey.”

It doesn’t say 5,000-percent increase over what. The number is presumably too small to specify. Furthermore, there is no indication that there is a significant increase in those actually leaving the country.

However, there is no denying the widespread discontent among those who so bitterly opposed the candidacy of this president. It manifests itself in talk of leaving the country, in absurd calls for impeachment and, in California, a campaign — which has no realistic chance of succeeding — for secession.

Some in the media are eager to give coverage to such political stunts. It matters not whether any of it is realistic, as long as it contributes to the drumbeat against the president.

Those who cherished the dream of a Clinton presidency, who were already packing their bags for a trip to Washington for her inauguration, are now threatening to repack them for Canada, Europe or Scandinavia, to be among other people who think like them. While the conservatives were bitterly disappointed when President Obama twice won election — and never refrained from expressing their outrage and chagrin — they nonetheless made peace with the reality of who was president, even if they vehemently opposed his policies.

Throughout history, people have left their homelands for various reasons: because of war, famine, persecution… and so it goes today. But the current talk of leaving the country is all about cowardice. The election didn’t go their way, so they want to quit the country.

It bespeaks a thin allegiance to the United States of America, and no belief whatsoever in the democratic process. The paramount goal is getting one’s way and being ensconced among the like-minded. Diversity of race and ethnicity, yes; of opinion, no.

The truth of the matter is that such individuals are negligible in number. The overwhelming majority of people who voted against President Trump is staying. They may be unhappy and hope he will be replaced in four years, but they aren’t going anywhere. They realize that what America has to offer far outweighs whatever they might find disagreeable about the latest occupant of the White House.

A little perspective is appropriate as well. While his opponents and a disgruntled media point to Trump’s misfires during the first month of his administration, there have been worse. Like those of John F. Kennedy’s first days in office.

On JFK’s 17th day as president, his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, admitted that the “missile gap” — a catchword of the 1960 campaign that claimed a dangerous Soviet military superiority over the U.S., that helped propel Kennedy into the White House — did not exist. McNamara’s thorough investigation into the matter once in the Pentagon showed that, if anything, the U.S. had a clear advantage in missiles.

President Kennedy later told a news conference that “it would be premature to reach a judgment as to whether there is a gap or was no gap.” However, as journalist Richard Reeves wrote, “He was lying. He knew there was no gap. He had been told so by CIA briefers during the campaign,” and by President Eisenhower before he took office.

Worse still was the Bay of Pigs fiasco. On the authorization of a young, inexperienced president, more than 100 Cuban émigrés were killed and almost 1,200 taken prisoner by Fidel Castro’s forces in a badly bungled invasion attempt concocted by the CIA.

But JFK had the saving advantage of the liberal elites on his side. There were no calls for impeachment; within a few short weeks, his approval rating had rebounded, as if nothing had happened.

Those who are disappointed over the fact that their candidate lost and Mr. Trump won are certainly entitled to feel that way and should feel free to publicize their views. But talk of fleeing the country or using political stunts to try to further their agenda only exhibit signs of desperation, weakness and a lack of political maturity.