This is not an endorsement of either candidate now running for president.
This is a rejection of those citizens who sanctimoniously declare that if their candidate doesn’t win the presidency, they are going to “leave the country.”
To that I say, “Buh-bye, and may I hold the door for you?”
Pop star multimillionaire John Legend recently counselled fellow Americans that if President Donald Trump is reelected, they should start thinking about “going somewhere that is a true democracy, that has respect for the rule of law and human rights.”
This from an Ivy League-educated black man who rose to the heights of celebrity at the age of just 26, made boatloads of money here and, shortly before making that pious statement, bought a $17.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills. Who is he kidding?
Legend and his model-turned-TV personality wife, Chrissy Teigen, are living proof that if you work hard in America, you can achieve your dreams, no matter where you came from and no matter what your race. Where exactly will Legend find a better democracy, with a superior legal system and no hint of racism?
Before Legend piped up, rocker Bruce Springsteen joked that he will leave the country if Trump is reelected. The man who made bundles of money singing “Born in the USA” now says he’s ready to dump his country and head to Australia.
Insipid threats from celebrities bore me silly. They seldom, if ever, follow through. They stay right where they are, comfortable in palatial homes that most of us can only dream about.
In 2016, actor Bryan Cranston said he would “definitely move” if Trump won. Actor Samuel Jackson said he “will move ... to South Africa” if Trump was victorious. Barbara Streisand, Amy Schumer, Miley Cyrus, and Whoopi Goldberg all warned they would flee the United States, as if to suggest the country would be a lesser place if they left.
Also back in 2016, Latino comedian George Lopez said if Trump was elected, the new president wouldn’t “have to worry about immigration” because “we’ll all go back.”
Guess what? None of that happened. They didn’t move away. The actors, singers, comedians, and other entertainment types who threated to leave the United States stayed put.
Empty pronouncements speak volumes about the self-centered people who make them.
Celebrities are trained to say and do provocative things to get attention. It comes easy to them. But the fact is it would be foolish for them to leave the country that affords them both public adulation and the means to make a spectacularly lucrative living.
But just in case they mean it this time around, here are some legal facts they need to understand.
The State Department reports an estimated 9 million Americans are currently living outside the country. Realize that a U.S. citizen can move away, but they are still required to file an annual tax return and pay taxes on their earnings no matter where they earned money. That law was largely ignored for years but is now fully enforced. Uncle Sam keeps track of overseas citizens by, among other things, checking the absentee voting rolls.
If these smug yet seemingly principled celebrities want to protect their money from the IRS, they could always choose the so-called citizide route and renounce their U.S. citizenship. Singer Tina Turner did so in 2013 after having lived in Switzerland since 1995 and marrying there. She traded in her U.S. passport for a Swiss one, but only after she studied hard, learned about Switzerland’s laws and history, and passed a civics test.
The Federal Register reports that there has been a surge of Americans renouncing their citizenship this year. Over 5,000 cases, compared with just over 2,000 in 2019. The number one reason for ex-pats moving abroad was “for love.” Other reasons could be the tax law or politics or the pandemic.
So, to all those who vow to leave the country if their political desires are not met—there’s your escape route. You can either move away, keep your citizenship, and be taxed on what you earn, or denounce your birth country, study hard, and pass a civics test in your new place of residence.
Again, I say, “Buh-bye, and may I hold the door for you?”