Living in red states and “being liberal can be challenging and it can be frightening”
Perhaps nothing less than losing the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump could have motivated the left to brainstorm ways to tackle their popular vote problem. The left tends to gravitate to the coasts and until relatively recently have left “flyover” country to the deplorable unwashed masses.
Some on the left seem to be, in increasing numbers, coming to the conclusion that they need a Plan B in case their lunge to the progressive left doesn’t pan out.
To that end, leftists are positing a variety of ways to infiltrate red states and turn them blue. From moving numerous government offices to flyover country to congregating in and taking over the political and socio-cultural center of major cities in red states, the left seems to be alert to the fact that the massive influx of blue staters to red states can make a difference to the political fortunes of their party and, ultimately, of its agenda.
Late last year, Vox posited the idea of moving government agencies to the Midwest. The idea, of course, is that the government employees forced to relocate to these Siberian outreaches would carry with them the torch of big government beneficence. And vote accordingly.
A sensible approach would be for the federal government to take the lead in rebalancing America’s allocation of population and resources by taking a good hard look at whether so much federal activity needs to be concentrated in Washington, DC, and its suburbs.
Moving agencies out of the DC area to the Midwest would obviously cause some short-term disruptions. But in the long run, relocated agencies’ employees would enjoy cheaper houses, shorter commutes, and a higher standard of living, while Midwestern communities would see their population and tax base stabilized and gain new opportunities for complementary industries to grow.
Vox goes on to note the many and various problems of midwest communities without identifying the cause.
The poorest places in the United States have been poor for a very long time and lack the basic infrastructure of prosperity. But that’s not true in the Midwest, where cities were thriving two generations ago and where an enormous amount of infrastructure is in place. Midwestern states have acclaimed public university systems, airports that are large enough to serve as major hubs, and cities whose cultural legacies include major league pro sports teams, acclaimed museums, symphonies, theaters, and other amenities of big-city living.
But industrial decline has left these cities overbuilt, with shrunken populations that struggle to support the legacy infrastructure, and the infrastructure’s decline tends to only beget further regional decline.
The idea of moving government agencies to the Midwest is an ambitious one that would require political wrangling and wide-spread voter support, but the idea is to mitigate the concentration of leftists in coastal urban areas.
A less-ambitious, more realistic model for infiltrating red states is, perhaps ironically, rooted in the attractiveness of red state taxes, cost of living, and etc. to the tech, medical, financial and other industries. As California taxes out business and makes unaffordable housing for all but the very rich and the very poor (who are subsidized), cities like Houston actively campaign to be the site of relocation.
Salon published an unintentionally hilarious account of leftists moving to red states; in this piece, entitled “Blue in a red state: Learning to confront, conform to or otherwise navigate your neighbors’ right-wing reality,” Salon suggests that imitating the troglodyte natives will ensure their goodwill.
On some occasions, it’s best to say as little as possible. Chris in Cincinnati, Ohio, is quick to talk liberalism—except when he’s hanging out with his ice hockey team. Spike in Sandia Park, New Mexico, and Dean in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, are both white men in their sixties who often hear off hand right-wing comments from people who assume they are conservative, and then have to determine whether it’s worth speaking up.
Diane in Fairbanks, Alaska, occasionally talks politics with her neighbors but never lets it get too heated—she’s always mindful she might need that neighbor to dig her out of the next big storm. Some might call this strategy “passing”—going undercover, by conscious deception or simple omission, to blend into conservative surroundings, staying quiet through sticky moments, or deftly navigating around political minefields in one’s neighborhood or workplace.
. . . . However, whether they find their kindred spirits in small clusters or online, when these liberals walk out their doors, they come face-to-face with—and need to learn to confront, conform to, or otherwise navigate—their right-wing reality: TVs in local venues are tuned to Fox News. Co-workers can quote Rush Limbaugh. Anti-Obama comments are rife, made as a casual matter of fact, often ignorant and sometimes crossing the line to racist. Neighbors and colleagues assume that everyone attends church, and some are suspicious of those who don’t. The same assumptions are made about gun ownership.
In these settings, being liberal can be challenging and it can be frightening. As one woman in Oklahoma City confessed, before she found other liberals she could talk with who gave her confidence, she would have been too nervous to “come out of the closet as a liberal.”
This Jane Goodall approach to studying we strange humanoids of flyover country and to drawing conclusions about what will make a given primate react in a given way highlights the incredible disdain the wannabe ruling class has for America and her citizens.
Another example appears in a tortured op-ed for USA Today, one California leftie who moved to a red state for economic reasons (her husband’s new job) is incredibly conflicted. She heaps praises on the denizens of her new flyover town within the only rubric she knows: she dredges up historical facts to try to demonstrate that her new town, and thus she, is not a white supremacist Nazi fascist blah blah blah.
As I settled into life in the Midwest, I heard the same assumptive questions: “Did everyone you know vote for Donald Trump?” “Are there African-American, Jewish, Asian, LGBTQ people in Indiana?” “Do people make fun of you for listening to National Public Radio?”
Never does one ask about Indiana’s history as a blue state (Indiana cast its electoral votes blue for President Barack Obama in 2008).
Perhaps most telling, however, is the author’s realization that living in a red state has helped her and her family immensely. She intends, however, to vote for the same progressives and Democrats who destroyed her home state.
Never does one ask about the low cost of living that is allowing us to pay off the mountain of debt we accrued in California. And never does one ask about my fellow community members, who are running successful businesses, enriching the city’s arts and making a difference for the local environment.
. . . . I’ve come to realize that my votes and actions can have a deeper impact away from the sea of blue where I previously lived. During the 2016 presidential election, so many California voters who didn’t like candidates Hillary Clinton or Trump chose not to vote at all, stating their vote won’t matter since California will certainly cast its electoral votes for Clinton. Here in Vigo County, where the difference between the candidates was only 6,002 votes, my vote does have an impact.
She and her husband are paying off, in her words, “mountains of debt” due to the “low cost of living” in Indiana. In the next breath she expresses her intention to vote for the exact same regressive, big government policies that make California increasingly unaffordable for all but the very rich and the very very poor.
This is nothing new, of course. Blue staters fleeing to red states in response to the policies and taxes they supported has been prevalent for years.
Indeed, for decades now, we’ve seen red state urban areas flooded with blue state refugees. As this happens, Republicans and right-leaning voters’ voices have been increasingly silenced. Rural areas simply can’t compete with heavily-populated urban centers.
The United States now has its most metropolitan president in recent memory: a Queens-bred, skyscraper-building, apartment-dwelling Manhattanite. Yet it was rural America that carried Donald Trump to victory; the president got trounced in cities. Republican reliance on suburbs and the countryside isn’t new, of course, but in the presidential election, the gulf between urban and nonurban voters was wider than it had been in nearly a century. Hillary Clinton won 88 of the country’s 100 biggest counties, but still went down to defeat.
American cities seem to be cleaving from the rest of the country, and the temptation for liberals is to try to embrace that trend. With Republicans controlling the presidency, both houses of Congress, and most statehouses, Democrats are turning to local ordinances as their best hope on issues ranging from gun control to the minimum wage to transgender rights. Even before Inauguration Day, big-city mayors laid plans to nudge the new administration leftward, especially on immigration—and, should that fail, to join together in resisting its policies.
Florida is an example of a (formerly) reliably red state turning increasingly purple due to the migration of (mostly) New Englanders flooding our state as they retire, seek warmer climes, and/or desire to live in a state without a state income tax. They get here, and then promptly vote for all the failed policies that contributed to their decision to leave their blue states.
Red states are happy to welcome blue state refugees and businesses seeking greener pastures, but it would be much appreciated if they would leave their politics in the ridiculously expensive, oppressively busybody blue states they’ve fled.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.