With Trumpism more rabid and violent than ever, is it finally time to leave?

Buzz Bissinger is a nonfiction author whose books include Friday Night Lights. His newest book, The Mosquito Bowl, about a group of exceptional Marines who fought at Okinawa in World War II, will be released next month. He was a contributing editor for Vanity Fair for more than two decades

“It isn’t just the abhorrent politics.

My hatred goes far beyond grotesque, pathological. In other words, Donald Trumpian. Nothing said about the man is too much. His red tie looks like a stretched-out scrotum. The pallor of his skin looks like he bathes in orange soda, the yellow shock of hair like a rotted cornstalk. I hate his voice, his demeanor, his lying, his cruelty, his lack of empathy.

My wife, Lisa, and I can’t take it anymore. Many say the odds of his regaining the presidency are remote. But the exact same mistake was made in 2016—he can’t win.

The hell he can’t.

We can’t handle the nonstop insanity, the stoking of the fires of divisiveness, the constant pandering to the racist and the ignorant and the gun-crazy. The divide between red and blue may well be permanent, but Trump has only made it worse, the fissure of a country in its modern state of civil war. He did his best to destroy democracy during his first term. In a second term, with Trump rabid for revenge, the final threads will tear away. He will stock his second term with blind loyalists, and they too will taste the blood of vengeance.

All of which is why Lisa has spent countless hours supplying at least a dozen documents to the Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco to prove her lineage and gain a passport and dual citizenship. She qualifies by blood—her grandfather was born in Italy and did not become a United States citizen until after her father was born. The process can take as long as six years, although we are trying to reduce it so we won’t be anywhere near Trump if he wins.

Many have tried to get Italian citizenship, and with dual citizenship Lisa can stay in Italy as long as she wants. I am hopeful I can also stay as her spouse, subject to an interview and knowledge of Italian. (The rules are murky.) There are downsides: We will still have to pay American taxes. And the American Consulate will not be of much help if we get into a jam. I guess we will be considered traitors.

The real traitors are those who support him.

Many say the odds of his regaining the presidency are remote. But the exact same mistake was made in 2016—he can’t win.

When Trump won the nomination in 2016, 14 percent said in one poll that the likelihood was “very high” they would leave if he won office (mostly to Canada). As reported by The Guardian,some of the super-rich have as many as four passports. It is also possible to bypass the rigorous application process in certain countries and buy your way in by making a sizable investment in the country. The prices range from $100,000 in various islands in the Caribbean to, according to some estimates, upwards of $1 million in Jordan.

In 2015, the number of those leaving the U.S. and renouncing their citizenship was only 4,300. So maybe it’s a pipe dream. Talk talk talk. But Lisa and I have thought hard about it. We will move if Trump returns to office—a frightening prospect for us and tens of millions of others. Countless others are thinking of it—with some reports saying inquiries for second passports have jumped 300 percent in the past three years—and whatever we do or don’t do, we all share the same ambivalence and sorrow.

We love the United States. Up until 2016 we took great pride in our country, the ability to do the right thing, or sort of do the right thing, despite a screwed-up Congress cannibalizing itself on partisanship.

Republicans will do anything to stay in power, even if it means harming the country; the far left is just as wacko and obstructionist and cloaks itself in its own righteousness. My wife and I are Democrats. We lived through Reagan and George W. Bush, but we cannot live with another four years of Trump. Our plan is to maintain our U.S. citizenship and eventually find the right time to return.

Our guess is that Trump will get the Republican nomination for president if he chooses to run. Republican elected officials, given their gutlessness, will not oppose him even though many privately cannot stand him. He still controls the party. He can also win the presidency, although he did lose to Joe Biden in 2020 by a wide margin of roughly seven million votes.

Biden was the right person for the right moment but is too old to run for re-election. (He would be 86 at the end of a second term.) A whopping 64 percent of Democrats say they would prefer someone else, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll taken in July. Only 1 percent—1 percent—of 18-to-29-year-olds strongly approve of the way Biden is doing his job, according to the same poll.

Biden may still run: recent economic and foreign-policy successes have buoyed both him and the party. The problem is that without Biden there is no one in the wings, the early lineup hardly inspirational: Kamala Harris (excommunicated by her own administration because of incompetence); Gavin Newsom (violated the coronavirus ban on gatherings that he instituted); Pete Buttigieg (the country is not ready for a gay president and will never be ready until climate change kills us); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (God save the republic); Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan (interesting but as of now utterly lacking in name recognition and maybe the stomach to run); Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar (let’s throw Hillary Clinton into the mix to make it a has-been quartet so they can all campaign together).

At first, there was something surreal about Trump in office, this Dennis the Menace of a man who should have been locked up long ago actually in the Oval Office. Until it became clear that the horrid voice and scrotum-stretched ties and orangeade pallor were here to stay.

His greatest political skill was whipping up millions with racism and division and hatred and playing to their sense of disenfranchisement. His speeches were like Elmer Gantry revivals gone crazy, conveying that the only thing holding America from its greatness was, instead of a chicken in every pot, an automatic weapon in every bed between husband and wife.

Trump played to an adoring sea of hideous red MAGA hats and sycophantic posters and American flags sticking out of every orifice like pins in a pincushion. He understood the Grand Canyon–size gap between red states and blue, and ramped it up even more instead of making the remotest attempt to heal. His administration was a turnstile, men and women leaving after realizing they were dealing with an immoral nutcase who could not be trusted. The only issue is what took them so long.

Maybe Trump won’t run again, his most reliable traits being bombast and bullshit. The New York Times/Siena College poll had Biden actually beating him 44 percent to 41 percent. Nearly half of Republicans polled said they would prefer someone else. But polls about Trump are notoriously unreliable, many of those canvassed unwilling to divulge that they actually support him, for fear of being labeled Trump supporters.

The only truly honest thing Donald Trump has said in the course of his political career was that he could kill someone and get away with it.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 45th president of the United States …

Maybe the idea of a hilltop in Italy is an illusion of tranquility. Maybe we will gain a greater appreciation for our country, even with Trump, and miss it too much. Or maybe we will stay until Trump is finally through running the country, presuming there is any country left to run.

All we know is this: with Trump back in office, arrivederci

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