Returning to Forbes after the third presidential debate, I overheard the comments of my fellow students. “Who do you think won?” “The country’s doomed.” “Trump’s an idiot.” But one comment never gets old: “I swear, if Donald Trump becomes president, I’m moving to Canada.”
Meanwhile, Trump had intimated in the debate that he may not accept the results of the election if Hillary wins. Even Republicans have since denounced this comment, painting Trump as a sore loser unwilling to follow the most fundamental tenet of American democracy. But we Princetonians do the same thing when we joke that we will move to Canada if Trump is elected. We are becoming like Trump, unwilling to respect majority rule.
Compared to Trump’s explicit refusal to accept election results, comments about moving to Canada can seem innocuous. Nevertheless, they imply that the speaker cannot live in the U.S. with Trump as the president — despite the fact that he would be elected by a plurality of Americans in the fairest, most inclusive voting process that our country has ever known. He would be our choice, for good or — more likely — for ill. By threatening to emigrate, one declines the basic American duty to respect democratic resolutions, just as Donald Trump has.
I understand that people are joking, that they will never emigrate from their proud nation simply because they dislike the next president. I also understand the fun in dramatizing one’s detestation for Trump. We pride ourselves in being different from him. We laugh at his odious comments because they are laughable; we criticize him because he is nauseatingly incompetent as a candidate and as a person. We realize that Trump is the classic case of paranoia, someone who decries everything against him as part of a rigged system.
But if we are to differentiate ourselves from Trump entirely, we cannot emulate him in any of his repulsive qualities. Every time we state that we are moving to Canada, we are Trump refusing to accept the results of an election in America’s democracy. We are Trump in his super-inflated ego, viewing the political system as out to get us. Worse, we are hypocrites, denouncing Trump as a conceited loser and yet partaking in the same activity we find so repugnant.
We Princetonians are not Donald Trump. We are not sore losers who cannot handle failure. We are better than that. We can choose to accept the results of this year’s presidential election like confident adults and strive to make the best of any outcome.
Otherwise, we might as well admit our similarity to Trump and vote for him.
Daehee Lee is a freshman from Palisades Park, NJ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org