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Jonathan Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know.

At this week's presidential debate, as everyone on Earth now knows, Donald Trump refused to say whether he would accept the results of next month's election if Hillary Clinton wins. "That's horrifying," Ms. Clinton replied. "Let's be clear about what he is saying and what that means: He is denigrating, he is talking down our democracy."

She's right. But a growing list of liberal celebrities have been doing something similar by pledging to leave the country if Mr. Trump wins. This isn't the same as a candidate threatening to reject the final vote tally, of course. But it's also horrifying, in its own right, and no one who cares about democracy should accept it.

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Consider the comments from comedian Amy Schumer, who last month told the BBC that she would move abroad if Mr. Trump were elected. "Those people aren't informed," Ms. Schumer said, referring to Trump supporters. "I haven't had a conversation with anyone who doesn't like Hillary where they've had anything meaningful to say."

Got that? Everyone on the other team is a loser. If my team doesn't win, I'm out of here. That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of American democratic traditions to me.

Ms. Schumer said she would go to Spain, noting that she would have to learn Spanish so she could get laughs in the local language. Black entertainers Samuel L. Jackson and Eddie Griffin suggested they might move to Africa. In a more whimsical vein, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart proposed leaving Earth altogether: "I would consider getting a rocket and going to another planet, because clearly this planet's gone bonkers," he quipped.

But the most common planned destination for the Trump-afflicted is Canada, which is where Girls creator Lena Dunham and several other stars have said they would put down stakes. Television co-host Raven Symone told an audience that she had already purchased a ticket to head north should Mr. Trump win.

Spotify helped by issuing a "Moving to Canada" playlist, featuring Justin Bieber and The Weeknd. Even President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got in on the act, joking at a joint White House appearance about Americans who might move to Canada if Mr. Trump wins.

It's all in good fun, until you realize that many people are serious about it. Nearly 20 per cent of Americans told pollsters last March that they would consider moving to Canada in the event of a Trump presidency. After his big primary wins on Super Tuesday, thousands took to Twitter to say the same thing; Canada's immigration website experienced big delays, probably because of the surge in moving-related traffic.

Of course, a Trump victory wouldn't generate the kind of mass exodus Americans saw during the Vietnam War, when about a quarter-million draft resisters fled for Canada. And Mr. Trump has welcomed the threatened departures of antagonists Rosie O'Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg, which he said would be "a great thing" for the United States.

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It wouldn't be. Behind all the celebrity bluster and humour lurks a deep cynicism about democracy itself: It's only a good thing if your side comes out on top.

That's more or less what Mr. Trump seems to believe. In a campaign appearance the day after the debate, he promised to accept the outcome of the vote, if it went the right way: "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election – if I win."

But believing in democracy means being willing to lose. That doesn't mean you roll over and play dead. It simply means that you concede your defeat in this round, so you can fight another day.

Mr. Trump deserves all the heat he has drawn for refusing to say that he'll accept the election results if his rival wins. But the liberals who threaten to leave the country are actually echoing him, in the guise of reviling him.

I can't stand the guy, either. But I'm staying right here if he wins, to make sure he loses the next time.

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