What's the Conservative Equivalent of 'Moving to Canada'?

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Defeated Republicans may be thinking about packing their bags. But where would they go?

RTR3A3FO-615.jpgEric Thayer/Reuters

When Democrats lose elections, a small but audible ratio of them invariably announce their intention to move to Canada, that liberal paradise where healthcare magically costs nothing, everybody is nice to each other, and maple syrup flows freely (although the price of cheese may lead to sticker shock).

But when Republicans lose, you almost never hear them grumbling in the same way. Are conservatives simply less prone to melodrama? Or would they just consider it treasonous to party and country to abandon the United States, even for redder pastures?

America's immediate neighbors aren't ideal, true enough. Mexico is ground zero for illicit drugs, something that tends to annoy social conservatives. Canada is out of bounds by definition -- since that's where all the Democrats hide out when things don't go their way.

If members of the Tea Party were to flee President Obama's emerging socialism, where else could they go? I put the question to Twitter and Facebook late yesterday, and the hivemind gamely took to the challenge:

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For whatever reason, Somalia and Saudi Arabia were both popular suggestions. Maybe it's because the joke's been made before elsewhere. Other suggestions included Switzerland, for its low individual tax rates. And, if we're counting The Newsroom's Will McAvoy, we know where Aaron Sorkin thinks Republicans would find a haven: Taliban-era Afghanistan.

So far, nobody's suggested a moon base.

In truth, there aren't many places where upset Republicans could go without giving something else up. Chile got some love from Herman Cain early in the Republican primary for its privatized pension system, which appealed to fiscal conservatives until they realized the "Chilean model" is built on an individual mandate not unlike the one propping up Obamacare. It also doesn't help that Chile's president last year floated the idea of recognizing same-sex civil unions, which could pose a problem for evangelicals.

Singapore -- or Hong Kong, which ranks first on the Heritage Foundation's index of economic freedom -- could be an alternative, at least for members of the 1 percent. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin made headlines in May when he announced his emigration there, prompting critics to say he was trying to take advantage of the city-state as a tax haven. But for the Tea Party's more libertarian wing, Singapore would be a no-go: It has a public health-care system and a relatively restrictive government -- we're talking, after all, about the country famous for its ban on chewing gum.

The lack of an obvious post-electoral-defeat "Conservative Canada" may stem just as much from principle as from practicality: Where Democrats tend to describe the United States in utilitarian, if still laudatory, terms ("indispensable nation"), Republicans tend to talk about American exceptionalism as though it were an absolute, intrinsic characteristic. If disaffected members of the GOP were to say they're giving up on America, they'd undermine the notion that only in the United States can you find the peculiar mix of personal liberty, religiousness, and faith in free markets that makes it the greatest country on earth. If you've already accepted that premise, then there's naturally no other place on the planet you'd rather be -- even under President Obama.

What other countries might offer refuge to U.S. conservatives? Tweet them to me @b_fung, or leave them in the comments.

Update: Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating points me to a site that recommends, among others previously mentioned, Israel, Costa Rica, and Italy. For more suggestions, see the feedback on The Atlantic's Tumblr.

Late update: I left out an extra hurdle. The countries conservatives choose would have to want them.

Late late update: Of course, there's always that old adage: If at first you don't succeed... secede.

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Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

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