For liberals, tomorrow's midterm elections could be a bloodbath. Rand Paul, Christine O'Donnell, Carl Paladino: These are people who could soon rule America! If they do get elected, where can you go? What foreign cities will be your refuge?
Obviously, this is the mournful joke people make every election. "I can't live here anymore. I'm moving to Canada! I'm going to Paris! Forget this rotten old place." It is, yes, mostly a not-serious lament. But now, if crazy tea-nutters like Nevada's rape-lemonade connoisseur Sharron Angle win, after only two years of Democrat rule, it might mean that things really are pretty hopeless here. (And can you imagine all the smug braying from the loony right? Horror.) So maybe it's time to "man up," as it were, and actually follow through on not lovin' it, and therefore leavin' it. But where should you go? Here are some ideas.
Pros: Canada is reasonably liberal, has universal healthcare and gay marriage, and is clean and safe-ish. (Just don't ride the Greyhound.) Toronto is the biggest city up there, an ethnically diverse hub of sorts, and, not for nothing, is pretty darn close to the US. Plus, Degrassi!
Cons: Well, it's not that liberal. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a conservative leader, after all. Plus it's super duper cold, you'll have to suffer through a whole lot of "sorey" and "lowsy" and "grade nine" (it's "ninth grade", guys) and there's a weird inferiority complex thing going on in Toronto that just gets a little sad after a while.
Sample Real Estate: 2 bedroom apartment in a new building, with balcony, $1800/month.
Pros: Cheap but lovely, one of South Amercia's most cosmopolitan cities is teeming with culture and fashion. The steak is delicious, the wine flows like water, and the people are mostly gorgeous. And did I mention cheap. Ohhh how cheap. High-end meals can run you as little as $10 a person.
Cons: Well, that cheapness ain't free. The Argentinian economy is sort of in the shitter, which leads to all kinds of political and social problems, including crime. There's a noticeably, and depressingly, wide wealth and poverty gap, which can make even the least fancy of travelers feel a little bourgie. Speaking of shitters, there's dog poop everywhere. And if you don't speak Spanish, take some dang lessons. English is spoken in some parts, but it's nowhere near as common as in, say, Western Europe. Oh, and, Catholicism and all that entails.
Sample Real Estate: 1 bedroom apartment, with internet, heat, air conditioning, and maid service included (feeling bourgie yet?), in the trendy Palermo Soho neighborhood, $990/month.
Pro: Sweden seems to be the usual go-to example of how government-run social programs and a vague sense of capital-S Socialism can really work. There's so little poverty! Everyone gets amazing medical care and maternity leave and there are no wars! Other than being one of the industrially cleanest cities in the world, the capital city is also cultured and educated, most people speak English, and if you like tall, blonde Nordic types, you're in business.
Cons: If you don't like tall, blonde, Nordic types, you're in less business. While Stockholm does have immigrants from all over, most recently many from Iraq, Somalia, and China, the small country is still a bit homogeneous, demographically. Tax-heavy, expensive Sweden is also moving into a more American style of limited-ish federal government, privatizing many formerly state-owned business to stave off economic woes. It ain't the perfect utopia some make it out to be, in other words. It also ain't warm or full of sunlight (in the wintertime, anyway).
Sample Real Estate: 2 bedroom apartment in the city center, furnished, approximately $1200/month
Pros: Back to hippie-lib Canada! This one even hippier and perhaps libber than Toronto. The Maple Leaf's West Coast capital has a film industry, a strong music and nightlife scene, all that outdoorsy stuff is right nearby, and you'll finally know what celebrated native son Douglas Coupland is talking about in all those wacky novels of his.
Cons: The closest US city to Vancouver is Seattle, America's Worst City. While certainly more temperate than other Canadian cities, there is this troubling fact, from Vancouver's Wikipedia page: "from November until March, it is not uncommon for there to be 20 consecutive days with some amount of rain." If you can handle that, go 'Couver it up.
Sample Real Estate: 2 bedroom 1,263 sq.ft. luxury high-rise in trendy Yaletown, with laundry and parking, $2850/month.
Pros: Paris is another go-to dream place for some escape-considering American liberals. It's arguably the prettiest city on Earth, it's exploding with culture and cuisine and unbearably good-looking people. There are immigrants from all over, giving neighborhoods vibrancy and diversity that belie the (pleasingly) monotonous pigeon gray-roofed architecture. Also, did I mention that the people are unbearably good-looking?
Cons: The people are unbearably good-looking. One gets a complex. Parisians can, in fact, be a little snooty, and while many of them speak English, a lot of them don't want to speak it. (It's like they're in their own country or something.) Like in the United States, anger over immigration has become a troubling political issue, with many Parisians (and other French) heading toward the political right in the hopes of defending what they believe to be true Frenchness. There were riots in poor (largely Muslim) neighborhoods of Paris a few summers ago, conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy is deporting Roma to get political points, and they want to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. Oh, and um, in the 2007 presidential election, 10% of French voters opted for sorta crazy ultra-righter Jean-Marie Le Pen. Yikes. (But it's still really pretty and Paris is more liberal than other parts of the country! Pretty!)
Sample Real Estate: Ha. Have fun! 1 bedroom flat in the fashionable Marais district (4th arrondissment), $2900/month.