America - Time to flee a narrow-minded country

For some Americans, there exists only one option if George W Bush is re-elected on 2 November - leave the country. As the US prepares to vote in what could be the most important election in a lifetime, many Americans have decided they can no longer accept this administration's narrow-minded and cocky attitudes. Many have already sought new lives in Europe, India, Mexico and Canada.

Patty and Joakim Jorwall are placing their Little Rock, Arkansas home on the real-estate market before the election. Regardless of which candidate triumphs, the Jorwalls will move to Joakim's native Sweden.

"Even if Bush doesn't win," says Patty, a foreign-language teacher, "the results will be so close that it'll still be scary that so many people voted for him. He's the worst president ever, and it is a sad statement on society." The Jorwalls have friends who relocated to Britain last year because they could no longer tolerate Bush's disregard for other cultures. "He said in the debates that he doesn't care what other countries say. That kind of talk is absurd," Patty Jorwall argues. "You can't ignore the world. We are all part of it. I am half-joking, but I feel like a political refugee getting away from the Bush regime."

To many Americans, their country appears tilted on an Orwellian axis, a 1984-ish society where unorthodoxy is not tolerated. The talking heads of conservative news stations control thought, brainwashing average Americans to align with a leader who ignores such institutions as Nato and the United Nations and accords such as the Kyoto treaty.

The mystery writer Sparkle Hayter is glad to be in Paris under Bush's "reign". "Western Europe isn't perfect, but I think two world wars and the end of their colonialism taught them a few lessons," she says. "There is much more of an attitude of co-operation here . . . The secularism is refreshing, too. Religion is considered a deeply personal thing here."

Yet for many of Bush's biggest critics, the desire to stay and fight during the next four years outweighs their loathing of the president. "I'll be here protesting in the streets, questioning everything they do," says Mary Wright, one of three US career diplomats who resigned in protest against the Iraq war. "I won't leave while my country goes down the tubes."

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