It’s been a year now since Donald Trump officially took over the White House, and people far and wide have been lamenting 2017 as one of the worst in U.S. history.
From a humanitarian perspective, the United States has regressed to the point of embarrassment. Trump’s misogynism, his racist outbursts, and his lack of empathy towards those in times of need (particularly those who aren’t Caucasian) is as “unpresidential” as anything most of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes.
But what can we, as Canadians, do about it?
We can certainly complain about it. Rarely does a day go by on my personal Facebook feed without seeing someone in my circle of friends rant about No. 45’s latest tweet, or most recent gaffe. Of course, The Donald offers plenty of fodder in that regard.
But, other than ranting, is there anything tangible we can do?
My wife and I think so.
Erica and I have made a pact to stay out of the United States for as long as Donald Trump is president. Whether that’s another three years, or, heaven forbid, another seven, we vow to keep to this side of the border.
You could say we’ve built our own wall.
There have already been some adjustments to be made as a result of our commitment. We were planning to travel to Bend, Oregon, in 2018, for a reunion of high school friends. Bend was selected because one of my long-time friends now lives there, with his wife.
There were supposed to be four couples at this reunion. Now there are three.
We estimate that we would have spent in the neighbourhood of $2,000 during the two-week trip.
Money is the biggest concern to a capitalist country like the United States. It’s all about the Benjamins down there. If that wasn’t clear prior to the 2016 election, it was made abundantly clear during the election campaign of both parties – perhaps even more so in Hillary Clinton’s corner. (Would Bernie Sanders have won the support of the Democratic Party, had he been a multi-millionaire?)
Need more proof that money is the be-all-and-end-all south of the 49th? Listen to Trump supporters. Their biggest boast is how the U.S. economy is recovering – some would say booming – since The Donald took over (even though critics and economists alike point out that Trump should not take nearly as much credit for that turnaround as he has been).
And if money is their biggest concern, stop giving them yours.
Now, I realize that our $2,000 is not going to make a sniff of difference to the United States. But here’s the thing: what if we all did it? What if everyone who has taken the time to gripe about the United States on Facebook in the past year actually stopped going there?
The number of Canadians who visit the United States each year is staggering.
According to Stats Canada more than 19 million Canadians visited the United States in 2016, spending just shy of $19 billion (http://bit.ly/1voOSLA).
Yes, a good portion of those trips would have been business excursions. So let’s break it down even further, by looking at the most likely vacation-oriented trips taken.
Looking at the statistics for only the states of Florida, Nevada, California and Hawaii, 7.35 million Canadians spent $9.8 billion in 2016.
Sadly, many of my friends complaining about Trump are among those statistics.
Well, not us.
In fact, that could be the name of the movement. Not Us.
Not the U.S.
It even works as a clever pun on the acronym for the President of the United States: POTUS.
Imagine if even two per cent of Canadians pledged to stay away from the United States for the next three years.
That would account for more than a $1 billion hit to the U.S. economy over the next three years.
Ten per cent? That would be nearly $2 billion a year!
A pipe dream? Yes, I know it is. But isn’t that how most great things start?
Sure. Call me a snowflake. I can handle that. After all, every avalanche starts with a single snowflake.
Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record