2/07/2005

Retreat

Inspired by a post by RightThinkingGirl...

The International Herald Tribune revisits a notion that got a lot of play in the days immediately after the election: packing up and moving to Canada.

In the Niagara of liberal angst just after Bush's victory on Nov. 2, the Canadian government's immigration Web site reported a surge in inquiries from the United States, to about 115,000 a day from 20,000.

"The number of U.S. citizens who are actually submitting Canadian immigration papers and making concrete plans is about three or four times higher than normal," said Linda Mark, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver.

"We're still not talking about a huge movement of people," said David Cohen, an immigration lawyer in Montreal. "In 2003, the last year where full statistics are available, there were something like 6,000 U.S. citizens who received permanent resident status in Canada. So even if we do go up threefold this year, we're only talking about 18,000 people."
In the emotional days after the election, when people I consider friends were calling me a Nazi because I voted for Bush, my response to this was "Don't let the border hit you in the ass on the way out!" With the passage of time and the soothing of some of the raw nerve endings, my take on this is markedly different.

There are some on the right who seem to think that liberalism is indistinguishable in any form from socialism or communism. I don't think that's true. To me, liberalism in it's truest sense is the notion that we owe something to more than ourselves; the idea that a certain degree of sacrifice for the benefit of others is not only moral and just, but necessary for the survival of a moral and just state. This is not the sort of ethos that reasonable people can disagree with unless they've read too much Ayn Rand.

It is with this notion of liberalism in mind that I don't take any joy in seeing liberals fleeing the country, even if it is in terribly small numbers. To me, packing up and leaving the country is the height of selfishness - the very antithesis of liberalism. Where is the sacrifice for the greater good in retreat?

Now, despite what the BUSHITLER crowd would have us think, our country is not on the road to fascism. We're not rounding up people into camps, and tanks don't roll through the streets unless it's Chicago and a local team has won a championship. The people selling their Volvos and heading to the Great White North are not fleeing oppression or persecution.

So what are they running from?

To me, it looks like they're trying to escape one of the linchpin of liberalism: obligation. Proponents of liberalism will often talk of our obligation to help our fellow man. Welfare, unemployment, and affirmative action - with reasonable boundaries - are all examples of society's attempts to live up to this obligation. Funding these notions with public money spreads the obligation to every taxpayer, and rightly so; we all benefit from reductions in poverty and advances against injustice, so we should all foot part of the bill.

This idea of liberals running away to Canada is like arguing that we should split the dinner check evenly and then running out without paying. It's the notion that sacrifice for the common good is noble and just so long as it's not you doing the sacrificing. For what it's worth, I don't think that this sort hypocrisy is common among rank-and-file liberals (although some of my fellow conservative bloggers would disagree on that point). To the degree that it is happening, liberals who are taking their money and running to Canada are doing their brothers-in-arms a disservice.

Shame on them.