On Nov. 4, 2008, a proclamation that had echoed through the American lexicon for nearly a decade was crushed beneath the weight of history:
Uttered in liberal enclaves from Cambridge to the Castro District since the Florida recounts in 2000, the Canadian Gambit was the political equivalent of biting a cyanide capsule after a failed intelligence mission. Its application ranged from using "Go Canadian" travel kits to avoid hecklers abroad to sizing up apartments in Montreal and buying the Rush and Broken Social Scene back catalogs.
In the wake of Barack Obama's victory, however, busloads of exiles returning over Ambassador Bridge on inauguration day will bring one question with them: Where will their conservative counterparts flee to when Obama takes office?
If Sarah Palin's moose hot dog-laden interviews and red-meat strewn words to the GOP governors meeting last week were any indication, conservatives still have one great white north hope for refuge: Alaska.
Die-hard adherents of the right will say that sticking it out is the patriotic thing to do, even if pale, tear-streaked faces in the audience during John McCain's concession speech and the folks who've marked Obama's victory with hundreds of racist incidents nationwide say otherwise. Moving to Canada is out of the question, what with all of the draft dodging, dope smoking, gay marrying, socialized-medicine using, gun-moderate weirdos up there. Mexico, meanwhile, won't exactly offer a hearty bienvenidos to vigilante minutemen who treated the border like their personal game of Big Buck Hunter and built barricades that made the Berlin Wall look like a Christo installation.
If the Clinton Administration taught us anything, though, it's that the far right prefers arming up and cordoning off to fleeing. With the same people who chided Obama for saying they "cling to guns and religion" hitting gun shops with the intensity of a Filene's wedding sale, sacrificing Alaska for the greater good serves the same purpose as shooting wolves from helicopters: Protecting the other animals from a snarling minority of predators.
Why should arch-conservatives stick around and watch the U.S. get socialized and sissified when there's a paradise to the north just waiting for a few good right-wingers to help it secede? Sure, Alaska's colder than the other side of Ann Coulter's bed and similarly barren, but it with filled with more Real American goodies than a Carrie Underwood/Jessica Simpson Frito-Pie Bake-Off.
Like oil, but tired of your president berating you for being "addicted" to it? Alaska is not only teeming with oil, but splits the surplus revenue with its residents to the tune of between $1,000 and $3,000 a year. Let the poor saps to the south be the junkies, you're a dealer, baby.
Are you a persecuted meat lover who just wants to cap a caribou without some vegetarian whine connoisseur bitching about it? Alaska's subsistence culture allows you to blast and broil all of the wildlife your heart desires. Tired of artsy-fartsy hippy types bad-mouthing your country? Alaska has mandated that anyone considering a career in music and poetry must live in a van for several years and forsake dental hygiene before receiving their certification. Jewel can vouch for this.
Her fellow Alaskans may actually welcome secession and a few more like-minded friends with whom to celebrate it. Though only four percent of Alaskans supported the Alaskan Independence Party's candidate for Senate, Todd Palin's involvement in said party shows that some folks in the 49th state are just as disenchanted with state of things as their far right fellow travelers in the lower 48. When you add to their ranks the nearly 47 percent of Alaskans who defiantly voted for breadwinning Republican senior senator and convicted felon Ted Stevens (his name's already on the airport, after all), you get a state in desperate need of a compassionate conservative hug.
There would be no conservative misery in an independent Alaska, where every executive decision by an unchecked President Palin would be akin to choosing between Ronald Reagan and Jesus on prom night. Should she first kick off a new Cold War by ordering Alaskans to moon Russia from their front porches, or should she approve drillin' in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with an augur made of polar bear ribs? Should she rename the capital Juno to celebrate the unexpected blessings of teen pregnancy, or just encourage Alaskans to multiply as God intended until they can retake the United States of Greenwich Village by force?
That the Alaskan leader has left her home state on fewer occasions than even her most provincial potential citizen would help ease the transition for even the most comfortable of American conservatives. It may be a hard sell at first, but making a new home out of the only state that is relatively safe from recession won't be as hard as it sounds. It will just take a few million Joe Six Packs who aren't afraid to take their values to a state with one of the highest alcoholism rates in the country.
The only other alternative is staying in the U.S. and griping about the current political climate in an unarmed, nonviolent fashion more suited to the port-wine pouring surrender squad that the far right so loathes. That would require getting to know your opponents, engaging in open dialogue, actually listening to each other when talking about your differences and trying to reach the compromises Obama has suggested.
If they wanted to live in a world like that, they'd move to Canada.