To *Really* Escape Trump, Yanks Should Move to Bhutan

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 11/11/2016 11:01:00 AM
Americans fleeing TrumpLand are well-advised to consider splendidly isolated and beautiful Bhutan (pop. ~760k).
While the election of Donald Trump as US president was as shocking to me as it was to the rest of the world, something else struck me as equally baffling: Americans unhappy about this turn of events--his opponent won more votes overall, remember--began crashing websites for immigration to Canada and New Zealand. I presume that they were looking for Anglophone nations to move to with generally liberal social orientations. However, consider that these countries are part of the "Five Eyes" intelligence consortium, so you'd hardly be getting away from this particular security grouping. Moreover, Canada and New Zealand have deep economic ties as well with the United States. For instance, over 60% of Canada's imports and exports involve its neighbor the United States.

So, what happens in the US does have a significant bearing on the likes of Canada and New Zealand given their significant security, economic, and political ties. No, if you really want to get away from Trump's United States and all that it stands for, I would suggest moving to countries with the following characteristics:
  • negligible diplomatic ties with the United States;
  • negligible economic ties with the United States; and
  • progressive social policies
Actually, the United States has trade with almost every nation on earth, save perhaps North Korea. Its diplomatic representation is also pretty much universal. I also have difficulties finding countries with progressive social policies fairly isolated from the United States--not repressive regimes the US likes applying sanctions to. So it took me a long time to look around before [ahem] settling on...Bhutan. Its virtues in line with the criteria mentioned above are substantial:

[1] Diplomatic relations - There is no US embassy in Bhutan. Instead, the nearest consular outpost of the Yanks is in New Delhi, India. How isolated is Bhutan? When Secretary of State John Kerry met its prime minister in 2015--the first time a top US diplomat has ever met a Bhutanese leader--the meeting did not even happen in Bhutan itself but rather in Ahmadabad, India.

[2] Economic relations - Bhutan, according to UNCTAD statistics, is home to zero American foreign direct investment. Nada, zip, zilch. So, you won't see McDonalds every other street corner on the high street (which is an alien concept to begin with). Meanwhile, bilateral trade is next to nothing--something like $6 million a year.

[3] Progressive social policies - This is where Bhutan should score big points with the Bernie Sanders set. Instead of using using GDP as its measure of progress, the Bhutanese have famously made Gross National Happiness their yardstick:
Perhaps inspired by age-old wisdom in the ancient Kingdom of Bhutan, the fourth King concluded that GDP was neither an equitable nor a meaningful measurement for human happiness, nor should it be the primary focus for governance; and thus the philosophy of Gross National Happiness: GNH is born.

Since that time this pioneering vision of GNH has guided Bhutan’s development and policy formation. Unique among the community of nations, it is a balanced ‘middle path’ in which equitable socio-economic development is integrated with environmental conservation, cultural promotion and good governance.
So our American friends--and a whole lot of other progressive, US-skeptical readers besides--are probably thinking: "I'm sold! Where do I sign up?" But alas, there is a catch: Naturalization is fairly restrictive--especially for those born before 1985:
BY NATURALIZATION: Bhutanese citizenship may be acquired upon fulfillment of the conditions listed below and upon obtaining permission of government: Naturalized before June 10, 1985: Person had reached age 21, had resided in country for at least 10 years, owned agricultural land, and had the petition for naturalization accepted by government authority.

Naturalized after June 10, 1985: Person is 21 years old, has resided in country for 15 years if one or more parents is a citizen, (20 years for child of non-citizen), and knows the language and customs.
Given the restrictiveness of Bhutan, the best most can aspire to is "visitor" status. But hey, if the whole idea is not really to avoid the US forever but to camp out somewhere until Trump's term in office ends (or he is removed from office), then what are you waiting for?