Ted Pollard of Wayne traces his roots in America to Nicholas Cooke, colonial governor of Rhode Island. His grandfather, Rear Adm. Edward Ellsberg, was an accomplished World War II leader and a prolific author. His cousin is Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame.
"That was patriotism," he said of Cooke's refusal to help the British halt the colonial rebellion. Studying his family's past, he's learned "what it means to be an American and what it means to be free."
But today, he fears, "those freedoms are eroding."
So, Ted Pollard, 61, president of the Radnor Historical Society and former township commissioner, plans to leave his country - for good.
Pollard joins a growing number of U.S. citizens who have found the grass is greener in Mexico, Panama, Argentina, even Croatia - literally in dozens of countries around the world.
The U.S. State Department doesn't have statistics on the number of citizens moving permanently out of the country. Laura Tischler, spokesperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, said yesterday that was because people cannot be compelled to register at U.S. embassies or consulates.
For many people, taxes, real estate prices, and increasing costs of living provide reason enough to search the world for more economical lifestyles or more affordable retirement.
Of course, the financial incentive sweetens the deal:
"I was in Mexico a year and a half ago," Pollard said. "I found a lovely four-bedroom house with a swimming pool and a little house out back, for an office. Taxes were a hundred bucks; $125,000 for the house. That really got me thinking.
"I can live pretty well someplace else for what I pay in taxes, insurance and heat here."
His business, a health-care Web site, is portable; he has no family ties to keep him here and is looking for new challenges. "I want to be able to go do things while I'm able to," Pollard said.
He'd been thinking of moving "off shore" for years for the economic benefits and the adventure, but lately a "darker side" to American life has strengthened his resolve, allying him with others fed up with the direction of the country's politics and priorities.
"We're moving, really, toward a police state in this country," Pollard said, citing as examples the Patriot Act and the NSA's tapping of phone calls. "It's very sad, very scary," he said, adding that "9/11 was the catalyst."
Mexico, he acknowledged, "is not perfect." Although it has its drug problems and commonplace corruption, he said, "I'm not talking about drugs, but about actions that infringe on your liberties." No one he's talked to who has moved to Mexico has "expressed that kind of fear," Pollard said.
"I grew up in Maine; I was a lobsterman when I was a kid," he said. "There's a theory about putting lobsters in cold water and then turning on the heat, and they cook slowly... . By the time they realize they're too hot, they're cooked.
"Well, the same thing is happening to the people in this country... . Suddenly, you'll be totally in the grips of the power elite and won't have the freedom to be able to move about and do the things you want to."
Pollard said he has heard the "snide" remarks and wondered if people who came to America were likewise considered traitors by their countrymen. What he's planning, Pollard said, "is not like draft dodgers during the Vietnam War."
Of course, that's not a big deal for patriots like Pollard.