Email from US friends and some blog posts by Americans living in Canada remind me that US elections are approaching. I'm not paying any attention to them, except to see if my friend Brooke Ellison is elected to the New York State Senate.

For the first time since turning 18, I'm not voting in a US election. I'll probably never vote in one again. And I didn't only vote. I expended a lot of time and energy trying to get other people to vote, too. I won't be doing that anymore, either.

I feel that, having chosen to leave the country, I have forfeited my right to have any say in how it is governed. Of course I know that I still have a legal right because I am still an American citizen, but I feel I have no moral or ethical right.

The second, related reason is that I view the entire US election system as utterly, totally broken and bankrupt. I don't want anything to do with such a corrupt and undemocratic system.

Some months ago another move-to-Canada blogger urged me to tell wmtc readers that the deadline to apply for absentee ballots was approaching. I did not, because I'm not comfortable asking people to do something I myself am not doing. And people who have managed to emigrate to Canada can figure out how to vote if they want to. They don't need my help.

In two more years, when we can apply for Canadian citizenship, we'll begin to decide whether or not to give up our US citizenship altogether. Everyone makes such a fuss over the US passport. While we were in the application process, another American also applying said to me (by email), "Why would you give up your US passport? Half the world would give anything to have one!!"

I have no doubt that if you're Somali or Afghan or whatever, a US passport would make your life much easier. But for my purposes, a Canadian passport will do just fine. I will be proud to carry one.

The only reason to hold onto US citizenship, and thus my US passport, would be for easy entry into the US. But we'll burn that bridge when we come to it - or not.

I realize that many Americans who moved to Canada for political reasons are voting in this election. I hope I don't need to say that I respect their decisions as their own. For my part, I feel I already voted - with my feet.


Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I felt just this way at first, and I didn't vote in 1998, 2000, or 2002 because of this. (In fact, I tried very hard to ignore American politics for a long time--I'd just had enough of it.) I'm not sure what it was that made me change my mind, but somewhere along the line I got ultra-pragmatic about it. I figured that I vote in Michigan, and as a swing state, Michigan needs more people like me, not fewer.

I do see where you're coming from, though, and I still go back and forth on the ethics of it. And I'm still not enthusiastic about voting in the U.S.--election fraud or no--because there's simply no one down there who I believe in enough to vote for. The only time I've voted for someone I believed in instead of the lesser of the evils was this past January--my first election in Canada. What a thrill that was!

I've also given thought to giving up my U.S. citizenship, but as I understand it, it's actually kind of difficult, so I suspect I won't ever actually follow through with it. I like being able to go into the U.S. easily, too--my parents still live there--at a time when it's gotten so annoyingly difficult. And I've also realized that I am American (as well as Canadian), whether I like it or not, and giving up my passport wouldn't change that.

L-girl said...

Thanks for this, I/P. I was hoping you would weigh in.

So you continue to file a US tax return? That's one thing I would really like to lose - for me it's a point in favour of giving up US citizenship one day.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I do continue to file a U.S. tax return, and yeah, it is annoying, especially since I don't actually make enough money to pay U.S. tax. But since I figured out how to do it online with TurboTax rather than paying ungodly sums to an H&R Block person to do it, I don't resent it so much.

I suppose what it comes down to for me, though, is that I view my becoming Canadian as additive, not subtractive. And giving up my U.S. passport would go against that viewpoint, even though I never want to live there again (and in fact feel quite foreign there in many ways).

L-girl said...

But since I figured out how to do it online with TurboTax rather than paying ungodly sums to an H&R Block person to do it, I don't resent it so much.

Huh. We do ours ourselves, and I resent it bitterly. :)

I suppose what it comes down to for me, though, is that I view my becoming Canadian as additive, not subtractive.

Ah, interesting. I never thought about it in those terms. I guess mine would be "replace-ative". Taking away this awful, alienated, angry feeling and replacing it with a feeling of calm relief and sanity.

Anonymous said...

Well of course you know I disagree. It's people like you who SHOULD vote--if only on the off-chance that your absentee ballot will *cancel out* the vote of one wingnut! It's just my opinion that as long as we still have the right to vote, we should consider it an obligation to do so.

Besides, if his party loses control of the House and/or Senate, perhaps the MORON will be less free to trample everything I thought I loved about the US. The *sshole believes he has a mandate to do as he pleases. I just so desperately want him get slapped down a little.

As for citizenship, I plan to apply here once I am able, but as long as I have family in the US, I think I will keep that US passport. As far as traveling outside North America, I think I would feel safer carrying a Canadian passport than an American one. But that's just me.

BTW, sorry to hear about your impending move. Have you found anything yet?

L-girl said...

Thanks for weighing in, Katrinka.

Doesn't writing SHOULD in ALL CAPS cancel out "it's just my opinion"?

MattInTO said...

I've given some thought to this issue as well. And in the end, filed my absentee ballot in spite of the fact that NY state couldn't get any more blue right now than if it were Massachusetts. That being said, I still have family in the US. Parents. A sibling. Friends. A newly minted niece. Who will probably never come to Canada. I'm voting for their sake.

And although there aren't candidates in my particular district in NY I'm particularly enamored of, there are some really progressive candidates in other states running strong races against dirty, slimy Republicans more corrupt than anything we've seen in 40 years. It's a bit of a hobby for me to follow them. Perhaps hidden in that hobby, at least for me, is a little hope that the US will find the right path again. There have been great periods in the very young history of the United States, and I fervently hope, for the sake of my family and friends who remain behind (and let's face it, for the sake of the rest of the world), there are more ahead.

mtspace said...

I think your notion of fair play is laudable. It is precisely that notion that seems to have fled the political field in the US. American politics has become obsessed the exercise of power. While I wish more people with your own strong sense of fairness still lived in and voted in the US, I strongly support you in your sense that it is true to the notion of what is fair to choose a nation to belong to as a citizen and accept the consequences. You have chosen Canada, and as much as I wished otherwise, Canadians do not vote in US elections.

L-girl said...

Thank you, mtspace. (Love that name!)

I'm getting a lot of flack for this decision, people are really pissed off that I'm not voting - because presumably I would Democrat. Only I wouldn't.

Anyway, thanks for your kind words.