Dear US voter,
Hi. Adrian Bono here. Journalist, political wonk and avid consumer of your outrageous pop culture.
I am writing today to extend my hand in solidarity. We’re only hours away from the results and, to much of the world’s consternation, Republican candidate Donald Trump remains popular and the prospect of a surprise win is looking like a possibility.
At the same time, social media is rife with foreshadowing articles about professors predicting that the real estate mogul is headed for a win or artificial intelligence systems saying Trump “is indeed more popular than Barack Obama was in 2008” and will without a doubt defeat Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
And in a year that has given us Brexit in the UK, Duterte in the Philippines and Colombia’s middle finger to a historic peace process, the idea of living under the tyrannical rule of a racist misogynist whose intrinsic understanding of the world can be easily challenged by the yellow teletubby is keeping you awake at night. You haven’t had this much trouble falling asleep since you were a kid and decided it would be a good idea to rent Stephen King’s It and not cover your eyes during that horrid scene.
The problem this time is that it’s not just little George that is being pulled into the storm drain of American politics but all of humanity. Since a Donald Trump presidency will have an (almost certainly) negative effect on every person on the planet, we all share a concern over the electoral fate of the United States.
Has the world gone mad? Perhaps. Because even though scholars and social scientists agree that we’re living in the most prosperous and peaceful time in human history, we just can’t shake off the feeling that it’s all slowly but steadily going to shit. And in this post-truth world of self-fulfilled prophecies, a Trump presidency would be the cherry on top of a very strange 2016, also known as the year of living stupidly.
This scenario is expected to trigger a mass exodus from the US as many younger, more progressive voters decide to leave their pumpkin spice lattes behind and look for greener pastures in nations that are culturally similar but are perceived as being less of an asshole. And according to Google, it seems Canada is the most popular destination for potential future trexpats. (Yes. In the year of silly portmanteaus, “trexpat” is what I came up with. I smell a Pulitzer!)
- A political expatriate, most commonly from the United States, who decides to leave their own country out of outrage and/or fear of the direct or indirect effects of a Donald Trump presidency. Synonym: trefugee (which sounds less glamorous, so let’s not).
Look, I get it. Canada is awesome. And they have Justin Trudeau so it’s hard to compete with that. But if you still feel like your geographical proximity to Trumpland may give you cooties, I am here to suggest an alternative and pretty cool destination:
That’s right. Argentina.
The country of tango, beef and Evita. And while this brief characterization pretty much sums up the entire country, truth is there’s a lot more than meets the eye on this side of the equator. It’s not just that the cultural similarities are astonishing (Buenos Aires has Uber too!) but from a political point of view this country is a Berniebro’s wet dream.
While Canada seems like an obvious choice for those who want to play it safe and still be able to seldom cross the border to have a deep fried Snickers bar, Argentina remains a place for the adventurous, the romantic and the slightly sociopathic. Because no matter how fucked up a nation can be, it will still be better than the United States of Trump.
So as you count down the hours to D-day, here are the five reasons why you should pick Argentina in the event of a Donald Trump presidency.
1. OUR LEADERS ARE CRAZY BUT NOT BATSHIT CRAZY
Several decades ago, South America in general was perceived by the US (and I blame Hollywood for this one) as nothing but a mysterious land of dense jungles, aging Nazis, bloody dictatorships, kidnappings and villains with funny accents that pretty much looked like this:
Fortunately for us, South America’s dark ages are long gone and the whole region eventually became a much better place to live, producing colorful political leaders that, while flawed and corrupt (hey, nobody’s perfect), you still wanted to have a few beers with.
Argentina is of course no exception, starting with President Carlos Menem, who was in office from 1989 to 1999. He was our 90s! And while you guys were arguing over who wore it better, Brenda or Kelly, down here it was all about the sideburns. You think Trump has a bad hair problem? Check out these bad boys:
Oh, not to worry. He got rid of that look eventually. Here he is with Queen Elizabeth II, looking presentable and stuff.
Now, let me be clear: corruption ran rampant during his administration and his government’s economic policy led to Argentina’s largest economic meltdown with 50 percent of the population living in poverty by 2001 but damn, was he charismatic!
Look! Here he is perpetuating the stereotype that all Argentines know how to dance tango.
Actually, no. That was terrible dancing. However, it would appear political strategists from all over the ideological spectrum believe the best way to connect with plebeians in Argentina is through the art of dancing.
Cristina Kirchner does it.
Mauricio Macri does it.
And who could forget totally out-of-sync dancer Walter Wayar? He ran for mayor of Salta and lost, but his awkward dancing will forever live in our hearts.
When it comes to the Politicians Behaving Badly department, none of them are an exception. Corruption is endemic here and is (probably) still going strong so I’m not going near that mess today. Let’s focus on irreverent or politically incorrect public demeanor instead. Is Donald Trump worse?
Well, former President Cristina Kirchner’s strong nationalism caused her to wade into some shallow discrimination a few times, like when she said Europeans were “mostly xenophobes” (she later said she didn’t mean it) and made some weird faces when one of her staffers talked about his Montenegro heritage. Did I mention she also suggested ISIS was probably just a bunch of actors and that the US might try to kill her? She did. And who could forget about that time she showed up in a wheelchair on national television, all dressed in white, to dissolve Argentina’s intelligence agency.
Terrifying, isn’t she?
I guess we could say from all of Argentina’s recent leaders, and while analyzing her political persona, she is the most Trump-like. When in office, she was authoritarian, paranoid, vengeful. She spoke ill of journalists who were critical of her, she deeply polarized the population and constantly tried to convince us that the entire world was against her. But she never had the power (or intent) to obliterate a small country or believed we should build a wall to keep people from crossing into the country. Last year her party’s candidate lost the elections and while she did throw a tantrum of sorts, she didn’t say the system was rigged nor called for a foreign power to hack Mauricio Macri’s computer.
When it comes to misogyny, President Mauricio Macri is far from perfect. He has been in hot water in the past after he said during an interview that all women liked to be catcalled and that telling them that they had a “nice ass” should be taken as a compliment because lighten up, women!
The difference is that after this incident made national headlines, one of his own daughters confronted him and yelled at him and forced him to apologize on Twitter.
Una de mis hijas me llamó y me retó por el tema de los piropos. Hice un comentario desde la galantería. Pido perdón a quienes ofendí.
— Mauricio Macri (@mauriciomacri) April 23, 2014
Ivanka should take note.
Look. Argentina still has some crazies with really controversial positions out there, like homophobic Alfredo Olmedo, who called for separate restrooms for gays, or Luis D’Elía, who takes pride in saying he hates white people. And yet, their extreme views never really become mainstream. On the contrary, their own hateful rhetoric pushes them to the fringes of their own parties, unlike he-who-shall-not-be-named.
So if you’re trying to escape the impunity of Trumpism, this is a good place for you.
2. WE LOVE IMMIGRANTS DOWN HERE
Argentina is a nation of immigrants and people here are proud of their heritage, a mix between the great European immigration from the 19th century and the local indigenous population. It’s right there in Section 25 of the Constitution:
“The Federal Government shall foster European immigration; and may not restrict, limit or burden with any tax whatsoever, the entry into the Argentine territory of foreigners who arrive for the purpose of tilling the soil, improving industries, and introducing and teaching arts and sciences.”
Oh, don’t be put out by that “European” part. It was written a long time ago by white men in ridiculous dresses. Don’t take it seriously. We love everybody! Guess who’s happily accepting 3000 Syrian refugees? We are.
As a concept, this is so deeply ingrained in the Argentine ethos that any efforts to tighten border security are almost universally met with accusations of xenophobia. Basically Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. And not only that. Just like Canadians, we’re happy to let citizens from all over the world come to our hospitals for health care or universities for higher education at no or very (very) low charge. Not so bad, eh? Even right now the population is up in arms over some recent comments made by a Peronist senator who suggested that other South American countries were taking advantage of Argentina’s lax immigration policies and were “sending us their worst.” Oh, no you didn’t!
Argentina is a melting pot. People here speak Rioplatense Spanish, move like the Italians, shop like
Americans people from the US, party like Brazilians and dress like the French. And when someone from abroad moves into the neighborhood, the locals will make it their lives’ mission to prove that this is the best country in the world. Besides, Argentina is yuge! There are thousands and thousands of square kilometers waiting to be turned into hipster coffee shops in Patagonia. There is so much unexploited land here that there’s even this urban legend that right-wingers love to float from time to time that says that “the Zionists” (yeah, you know where this is going, don’t you) were trying to “take over the south of Argentina” and set up some kind of Israel 2.0 there. I mean, seriously? Considering all the Nazis that fled Europe and were allowed safe passage to Argentina, that sounds like a pretty terrible idea to me.
And while this is the only country in the region where less than 50 percent of the population has a positive view of the United States (at least until last year), don’t let that confuse you. The problem is not you, it’s your government’s foreign policy and its unforgivable decision to look the other way when the darkest chapter in Argentine history had just begun. To be fair, the Carter administration tried hard to reverse its predecessor’s apathy but the damage had already been done and Henry Kissinger will go down in Argentine history as Satan incarnate.
Sure, you may occasionally run into some asshole who screams “yanqui go home” at you but chances are most people you meet here will be more interested in cooking an asado for you and teaching you how to swear like a local.
And if you still don’t trust me, here’s a list of (fictional and non-fictional) people who chose to move to Argentina because it’s all good here.
- The Soup Nazi
- Actual Nazis
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- Actual Adolf Hitler (like, some people say that, for real)
- Dexter Morgan (the serial killer guy)
- Sebastian Shaw (technically a Nazi but also a mutant)
- Hannibal Lecter
If you can look past the fact that all of them are blood-thirsty villains (and one of them is Adolf Hitler) then you should follow their lead and just move here.
3. POP CULTURE HERE IS VERY SIMILAR TO US POP CULTURE
No, I’m serious.
Netflix? Check. Starbucks? Check. Uber? Check. Game of Thrones? Check. Did you know Argentines are obsessed with The Simpsons*? And I mean obsessed. To the point that the early seasons managed to shape the vernacular of Argentine millennials in such a degree that it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with a local 30-something without having them quote Homer or Mr. Burns every five minutes.
Not to brag, but when it comes to the TV world, Argentina is pretty awesome. Our Netflix had Friends long before yours and this year the latest season of The X-Files was broadcast here simultaneously with New York. (Suck it, California!) We obsess over Apple products (that we can’t afford) and Dancing with the Stars (which, trust me, is a lot more… audacious than your prudish US version). Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
Yup. Never underestimate the power of softcore porn on network television.
Love the Kardashians and Ru Paul’s Drag Race? Don’t worry, E! is down here too. So are MTV, HBO and Fox News (Fox News!) Although I should warn you, Ru Paul has nothing on Moria Casán.
People here obsess over Tinder, Twitter and take out. And Argentines are not just the most fluent English speakers in Latin America, we also celebrate Saint Patrick’s and Halloween, much to the chagrin of some local nationalists who believe that celebrating on October 31st is just another imperialist marketing ploy (like Christmas).
We are the country of Evita, Che Guevara and Pope Francis. And yes, when it comes to politics, we’re as polarized as the United States, except that instead of arguing about assault rifles we fight over whether football matches should be broadcast for free or not (they shouldn’t). And here’s another fun coincidence: we kicked the British out too
twice once after a failed attempt to invade us in 1807**. You may also find it interesting to know that we are a constitutional republic with division of powers, just like you! In fact, don’t tell anyone but our Constitution is “loosely based” on yours.
We are a nation of imperfect exceptionalism. For instance, there has to be a downside to living here. Unfortunately for all of humanity, there is no Apple Store here. I know, it’s tragic. I don’t know where we find the strength to get out of bed every morning, but we do so anyway fully aware that some day, somehow, Tim Cook will make our lives a better place.
That’s right. People still clap their hands when their plane lands safely, a way of showing the pilot their appreciation for not killing them all. Which I guess would be understandable if they were flying a Wright Flyer in 1903 but they are not. So stop. Forever.
* Only the first ten seasons because we all know the show went downhill after that.
** Technically we were still a part of Spain back then, but that was a long time ago and no one cares anymore.
4. ARGENTINA IS AN EXTREMELY (ALBEIT SOMETIMES CONTRADICTORY) PROGRESSIVE COUNTRY
America United States, but when it comes to marriage equality, Argentina came first. The #NiUnaMenos movement against gender violence that recently spread throughout the Americas? We invented that shit. Obamacare? Please. We’ve had universal healthcare for a while now. Student debt? We don’t know what that is. Christopher Columbus? Bad guy (at least to half of the population). I already mentioned immigration so no need to go back to that. And politically speaking, everyone is to the left of Bernie Sanders. Or forced to move there for electoral purposes.
When it comes to the younger generations and social issues, a few millennials surely hold controversial or conservative positions but, generally speaking, they are bleeding-heart liberals and politically active. Unions are gods and workers’ rights are more sacred than cats were in ancient Egypt. Your Uber driver wasn’t that great? You better think twice before rating him anything less than five stars! Do you want him to lose his job and go hungry? Didn’t think so. (Although depending on who you ask, Uber is an imperialist money-grabber that is leaving cab drivers out of work. So I guess you’re a monster either way.)
And in case you’re wondering, even though the Macri administration is seen as center-right by Argentina’s standards, they follow the ideals — and are mostly aligned with — the Democratic party. Or at least that’s what they say.
Yes, my friends. There are many contradictions in this country. In practice, we really suck at saving the planet. But in theory, we think climate change is 100 percent real and needs to be addressed. We complain about disastrous customer service everywhere, but when a client complains we just shrug and look the other way.
But at its core, Argentines are inherently empathetic and while there is still a lot to be done to eradicate sexism, racism, homophobia and body shaming practices, this country is definitely in the right direction.
What’s that? “What about a woman’s right to choose?” you say? Sorry, no comment. Next time.
5. IN CASE OF WORLD WAR III, WE’RE FAR AWAY FROM THE ACTION
Let’s face it. A Trump presidency brings us closer to midnight and the doomsday clock is already at 11:57. True, once Colombia manages to abandon its conflict with the FARC there will be officially no more wars in the Western Hemisphere. But taking into consideration his major misunderstanding of international relations, there’s a chance he could spark a global conflict that humanity has pretty much made up its mind that it’s going to happen. So much so that there’s already a Wikipedia page about it. And even if he doesn’t do it, it’s possible that Clippy and Siri will go full Skynet on our asses and kill us all in our sleep in the next ten years.
So if you’re looking to increase your chances of survival, Argentina is not a bad place to
reset your life. First of all, our DSL and 4G connections suck, so Siri will have a hard time tracking you on Find my Friends. But also, there’s a reason why most bad guys migrate to the land of the Pampas and that is because oh my God, it’s so far away from everything I feel like dying.
In fact, the city of Ushuaia, in the southernmost tip of Argentina, is known as the “city at the end of the world.” Have you ever tried to talk your grandparents in Spain into flying to Argentina? I did. I also failed. Because “think of the many times we could go to Paris in 12 hours!” Whatever.
In pop culture, Argentina is seen as such a distant, exotic land that according to local lore, the Knights Templar came all the way here to hide the Holy Grail in some Patagonian mountain. I’m not kidding, it’s a thing! (Although Dan Brown then published The Da Vinci Code and changed the conventional wisdom forever).
And during World War II, Argentina remained neutral (because it could) and finally decided to join team USA when the Axis powers were pretty much dead so… you know. Just something to think about.
There’s no ISIS here, no wars, no minutemen, no militias, no mass shootings, no climate change deniers, no creationists, no idiots dressed as evil clowns coming to haunt you in your sleep.
So, while I’m certainly not predicting Armageddon if The Donald wins, it is good to know that there’s a nation probably willing to offer you sanctuary at no extra cost, except for an overpriced steak in some Palermo parrilla.
So there you go. I’ve done my part. Now go vote.
Otherwise that terrifying scene from Stephen King’s It that I mentioned earlier is about to get a lot more real.