I’m not really a politically partisan guy. I’ve lived too long and too big of a life to honestly say one’s political persuasion, or person for that matter, is better or worse than another. I practice conviction in myself and look for it in others but not to the extent that it causes a myopic world view — I don’t think that is a very intelligent or a healthy way to live. I think any rational person recognizes there are merits and shortcomings in almost all big decisions we make in our lives. I have a big decision to make, and I want to be thoughtful about it. It’s been so difficult because it involves the “unimaginable.”
I have had an uneasy feeling the past year or so, and I’ve been thinking about this “unimaginable.” I wondered what the Ukrainians were thinking before their sovereign country was invaded by Russia. Even though seemingly unimaginable, there was a looming threat and advance knowledge of the invasion. We saw them sipping craft cocktails in upscale bars; schoolteachers and school children scurrying to their routines; contractors and engineers leaving their comfortable homes in the mornings to start their missions in life. I wondered what they thought when the unimaginable happened to them. A few weeks later after the Russian invasion, the morgues were so full they were digging trenches in the nearby public streets to install dead bodies.
What about the Jews in Nazi-ridden Germany? How did some people have the prescience to leave, and others succumbed to the unimaginable? What did some know, and others did not? Were resources or social status a factor?
I couldn’t have ever imagined that in a 48-hour period, my country and essentially the world would be in lockdown from a rogue virus with a strange name and the number 19 after it. Less unimaginable, but pretty surprising, was that a guy who was an aggrieved, confirmed trust-fund queen with a string of failed businesses — and the last guy I’d ever want my sons to look to as a role model — had been elected leader of the free world.
After COVID and four pretty embarrassing and nonproductive, drama-filled years on the world stage, it seemed like the country just needed a break, time to breathe, maybe find some light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, as we are learning now via bipartisan hearings, not a small number of the allies of the domestic terrorists who invaded our capitol on January 6th appear to be members of Congress and members of or people affiliated with the last executive branch of government — unimaginable!
These folks have been quietly installing their own attorneys general and electoral vote counters in the ever-important swing states. So, the next time they will be ensured to succeed where they failed before. If the domestic terrorists take over the legislative branch of government next November (and by every measure, they are poised to do just that) then, for me that is the beginning of the end. Remember, the legislative branch of our government makes laws.
Whadaya gonna do?
I’ve interviewed foreign consulates and expats in three different countries and extensively explored real estate with good brokers for the past 10 months. I chose my “Wait until the U.S. is sane again” city based on (1)The political stability of their institutions (because ours seems dangerously fragile), (2) health care (my mother is a rock star but 85), (3) financial security of my assets, (4) the quality of life: must meet or exceed my current status.
While I started this process with a little trepidation because, even to me, leaving my country for fear of it descending into chaos, violence, and a pseudo autocracy was almost unimaginable as to most of my friends and family — but 10 months in, with every passing week, I feel more strongly than ever. I just sold a house I built and loved and thought I’d die in, but I have no regrets. If I were to write a bumper sticker to my driving motivation, I’d say something like this: There have been autocracies all over the world in it’s history, but never has there been so many guns in the hands of so many aggrieved.
Think about it. According to the Guardian and PolitiFact, on January 7 this year,102 million voters did not believe Joe Biden was the duly elected president. No matter what the outcome of the next midterm election and or the next presidential election, I feel there is going to be a rough period in this country for which I did not sign up.
I ask myself if I want to listen to the sounds of gunshots and chaos in the streets and bloodshed on the nightly news. My friends and family nod in agreement and shake their heads, yet eventually retreat to “Whadaya gonna do” and “Are you free for tennis on Saturday?”
Could the unimaginable happen here? I hope I’m as wrong as I’ve ever been, but I don’t have to and I’m not going to take the chance. Are you?
Mike Stoltz is a serial entrepreneur, a guest speaker at universities, and a mentor in Long Beach State’s Entrepreneur program. He was raised in Santa Barbara.