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October 10, 2006 | 10 Comments

Dear Mr. Keillor,
I was wondering if you had any insights about rules of thumb people could use when they consider emigrating. I realize that our current situation here in the U.S. may not be as bad as, say, Germany in 1937, but I can't stop thinking about the frog-and-boiling-water analogy. When is "bad" really bad enough? After 3 suspicious presidential elections (instead of 2)? After one's friends or family start disappearing without a trace? More invasions we can't finish? Sometimes I think the main reasons I stay is because Thomas Jefferson believed this American experiment thing to be a good idea, and because it's easier for me to tell jokes in (American) English. The ketchup's not working; not sure how much to up the dose to get more courage, or fewer doubts.

Jeanine C.
Austin TX

I'm all in favor of foreign experiences, Jeanine, but do it for fun and not out of despair. I have friends who moved to Vancouver for the reasons you mention, and I suppose that's not so hard, but don't rush anything. The antidote to despair is to take a vacation from TV and radio and newspapers and rediscover your country and your people at the grass roots. You will find this bracing and inspiring. You're wearing yourself out and you need a break, and I recommend that you start reading diaries and journals and memoirs and letters of ordinary American people. The fear of relatives disappearing is paranoid. The elections of 2000 and 2004, whatever their complications, are over and done. Give yourself a vacation, kid. October is a great month in Austin for sitting outdoors and watching the sun go down. Do that and put thoughts of emigration out of your head. It's a hard road and you should only do it out as an adventure, not out of depression.


Jeanine - You've got a big heart. Seeing things the way they are right now can certainly hurt. Garrison's absolutely right. Turn off the TV, put down the newspaper, go see your neighbors, don't talk about politics, read a good book, go on a trip. I'm going to Hawaii. Flights are cheap right now and the water is warm. Give yourself a treat. This country has seen worse times. We're just experiencing a glitch in the experiment. In addition, keep your big sweet American heart open. We don't get to close down.

Garrison is absolutely correct. I'm a staunch conservative and voted for Bush both times. I understand the frustration Jeanine faces. My party has squandered some opportunities it's had to show what we really beleive. The political discourse can sometimes seem unbearable. I don't want to continue down this road of political sniping and tearing one another down. I beleive we can have adult political conversations without all the rhetoric and hype from both sides of the isle. I listen to Garrison because I enjoy him and all the others on the show. I know where his politics are and I don't care, it's not important. Our country faces very serious times ahead and we cannot acheive our countries promise if all we are doing is look at one another as the enemy. We must come together as a people and rise above the tripe so that we may deliver on the promises we've made to our parents and our children. If they can't get it together in DC then we have to do it at our level. Sorry to be so long winded but I really needed to get that out.

Thank goodness I came to my senses and left the US, immigrating to New Zealand shortly after the second fraudulent election in 2004. As I said then, I recommend to anyone before "your civil liberties vanish in a haze of religious and patriotic self-righteousness." I stand by those words. The great American experiment has been destroyed by a cabal of greedy, avaricious war-mongers called the Project for the New American Century, better known as BushCo.

Please don't leave. America needs many, many patriots on the left who can use their vote and their voices to temper the forces that are dragging this country away from the ideals we hold dear and have expressed in our Constitution. The United States has immense power to impose their will on the rest of the world and if those of us who do not believe in wielding it solely to make a bigger buck leave, we concentrate more power in the hands of the bad guys. Then, the bad guys come find all the countries to which we moved and bend us to their will anyway.
Now more than ever, we need people like you who believe in a just America to stay and fight the fight. Stay with us and help us restore the country we imagine.

Dear Jeanine:

If you have the opportunity and the financial wherewithal then by all means do go, before Halliburton starts erecting the barbed wire and the stinking chimneys. I intend to do the same as soon as I have resolved my own issues of personal responsibility here. Mr. Keillor may call your fears paranoid, but I'm sure the people of 1930's Germany said the same thing about their fellow Germans who saw the Nazis for what they were and got out while the getting was good.

Jeanine - I have struggled and continue to do so with the same issues you speak of. And though I think it will be quite a long time (in truth, maybe never) before we can heal and undo all the subtle and blatant atrocities that have been initiated under the guise of patriotism, if I leave, I feel I am abandoning our youth, our hope. We are already handing them such a mess, politically, environmentally & spiritually. I have 2 children, ages 18 & 23, both young men and as I enter the elder (& i hope,wiser) portion of my life, I feel the need to stand by their side. I am commited to them and to their future and to be fully present with these choices, my heart must remain open. Thus I stay.

I didn't expect to find this discussion in the Prairie Home webpages. :) I find it quite a relief to see other people talking about this subject.

I have no great insight, though... I'm just happy to see it discussed. The people who make arguments to stay are right. The people who make arguments to leave are also right. (The readers who think both side can't be right at the same time... might be wrong.) ;) I admire people for thinking about it and considering their options. Each person has to reach their own answers.

Dear Jeanine C.
of Austin TX..

If George, Thomas, Benjamin and their contemporaries had taken a row boat to cuba, the USA would never have come into being..

to quote from a sometimes popular tune (no, its not mr. keillor's "cut and run") "stand beside her and guide her, through the night with the light from above"..
and, i must add here, that i am not a religious zealot and i do not adhear to any organized church..

Bill Morrow

There's an easy answer to this problem - Garrison Keillor should be the next president. Why is it that our current two-term president can't string a coherent sentence together and thinks only about killing people in foreign countries and enriching his cronies, while someone with the wisdom and compassion of Garrison Keillor and the rest of us liberals have to watch while this country is driven to disaster by a bunch of lunatics? Gilbert & Sullivan would have found this very Topsy Turvy.

Dear Jeanie C.,
I sometimes think about abandoning ship and leaving this country of which I am becoming less and less proud. But imagine yourself on a huge cruise ship, recklessly piloted by crooks and headed sraight for a crowd of innocents on the pier. Should you jump out and save yourself, or should you fight for the helm and try to steer the ship? I can't leave knowing that I could have done something. Besides, if things keep going as they are there won't BE anywhere to hide, or even just mind your own business. Turn off the TV and do something good, however small, every day.
And hey, you're in Austin. Its a great place to be!

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