Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.
Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer
“Voting with your feet” is an American idiom that describes how people can express their disapproval with something by getting up and walking away. It applies both literally and figuratively. Walk out of a store, out of a theatre, out of a relationship and you’ve voted with your feet.
So much literal feet-voting has been going on in the U.S. over the last decade or so that it almost constitutes an internal mass exodos. But unlike past major emigrations like the Westward-Ho wagon trains taking settlers to new lands or The Great Migration of 1915-1960 that saw thousands of poor blacks seeking jobs in the industrial cities of the North and West the current foot traffic has a different cause.
As Kristin Tate’s book The Liberal Invasion of Red State America points out today’s ambulatory Americans are abandoning states piled high with political mismanagement, over regulation, corruption and taxes on taxes on taxes in favor of low-tax business-friendly freedom-oriented states. This almost always means moving from a Democratic controlled state to a Republican run state.
A more recent reason for abandoning blue states for red is the mindlessly authoritarian coronavirus “crisis” lockdown of people’s businesses that destroy their jobs, their incomes, their life’s work and leaves them economically dead.
The libertarian Reason magazine recently reported on the seventh consecutive year of the Illinois population plunge that numbers Prairie State ex-pats as “more than a quarter-million people” over the last decade. The Land of Lincoln might even lose a congressional seat or two during the next gerrymandering manipulations, a political process sometimes politely called “reapportionment.”
Leaving Liberal Lockdown Locales
But voting with one’s feet is an idiom. In these cases people are voting with cars and trucks and moving vans and U-Haul trailers hitched to their SUVs.
It’s not just Illinois of course. “California, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Michigan may also lose congressional representation due to population migrations” Reason magazine reports. “New York and Alabama are on the bubble of each losing a representative.”
The primary reason for The Great Escape Today is the covid pandemic that has caused political autocrats to forcibly shut down restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, churches and everything else they happen not to like while keeping all the big powerful corporations functioning and paying their taxes.
The biggest beneficiary of this population parade seems to be Florida. MSN reported in September that “many of these new residents are coming from states with high taxes, like New York, Boston, California and Chicago.” That’s because Florida, like Texas, has no state income tax, and they along with many other Sunbelt states have opted more for fair and enlightened mask-and-social distancing rules rather than lockdown-and-destroy decrees.
Past Politically Provoked Pullouts
But there’s little new in this. In 2011, long before the China virus invaded the world, California passed an Orwellian-named "e-fairness" law that required online retailers that have affiliates in the state to collect sales taxes from consumers.
Crying “unconstitutional” and “counterproductive” Amazon terminated its affiliate advertising program with 25,000 California websites. While these businesses ranged in size from one to 75 employees, it meant thousands were suddenly threatened with revenue losses of 20% to 30%.
This started a stampede of affiliates and many others picking up their bricks and mortar and online domain names and evacuating The Golden Gold-Digging State in droves. The most popular "more freedom" destination by far was the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas Metroplex. Article after article could easily be found in the then-less-censored media on the subject. Any North Texan who attempted vehicular mobility anywhere any time in the twelve-county area knew this:
Dallas-Fort Worth again leads nation in job growth—Dallas Business Journal, June 1, 2011. "The Dallas-Fort Worth area tops the nation in job growth, with Houston coming in second."
Texas Continues To See Influx Of Businesses Relocate From California—CBS 11 News, May 18, 2011. "Energetic downtown areas in Dallas and Fort Worth attract younger residents."
Texas No. 1 on 'Best-for-Business' State List for CEOs—Newsmax, May 24, 2010. "Texas is where 70 percent of all new US jobs created since 2008 are based."
But this has been true throughout the Century. According to a 2011 Future of Freedom Foundation article by Fergus Hodgson, “Migration Affirms Hunger for Freedom”, between 2000 and 2009 “over-governed states tend to have lost 3 percent of their population through domestic migration, while freer states tend to have added 3 percent to their population.”
And then there was this observation which clearly our tax and spend and regulate politicians, banksters, tech giants, media mavens and billionaire oligarchs and all their DC swamp cronies have ignored:
To survive, U.S. must follow the Texas example, not California—Salt Lake City Desert News, June 10, 2011. "So what example should America follow, that of deficit-slaughtering, budget-cutting, seriously limited government in Texas, which has added 730,000 jobs in the past decade, or that of regulation-happy, spend-mercilessly, owe-everything, flee-this-place-quickly California, which has lost 600,000 jobs during the same period?"
Here’s how the Democrats have been responding to this question:
Democrats are now trying to help the 1%—Fox Business, March 5, 2018. “The left, having bashed the rich for years, now turns around and defends them?” … “It’s not that Democrats suddenly love the 1%. Oh no, it’s their money they want.”
California Dem Proposes Taxing People Who Leave State—Channel 411 News, August 15, 2020. “Under plan, residents who leave state would still pay taxes for up to ten years.”
California will be 'the de facto policy think tank' for the Biden team—Washington Times, January 18, 2021. “A report in the Los Angeles Times declared that President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration is likely to lean on California’s policy ideas to guide its agenda.”
So apparently the donkey party sees the desire for prosperity as a threat to their rule. But what if the red-to-blue state migration is more than just that? What if it’s really about a "hunger for freedom" as Fergus Hodgson claimed in his article? Does that mean it’s time to ramp up the libertarian outreach effort? If people are so eager for personal, economic and even geographical freedom they might be ripe for social, philosophical and political freedom as well.
Is it time to turn Texas and Florida and other Bible Belt states into the Libertarian Zone?
Not so fast.
Fleet of Foot but Blank of Brain
In spite of all the positive news about freedom-seeking interstate immigrants there’s a dark ignorant cloud hanging over the whole story. When people flee the blue states controlled by the wealth-and-power-seeking Democratic Party controlled states and settle in the relatively more open Republican, conservative, traditional, business-minded self-reliant red states they bring more than their desire for freedom with them.
They bring their politics with them. And that means they go right on voting for the same Democratic, Progressive, Socialist, Marxist, Radical Left Party or whatever they’re calling themselves these days that they voted for in their home states.
Kristin Tate who authored The Liberal Invasion of Red State America, aka The Libertarian Chick on YouTube and described on her Wikipedia page as “an American libertarian columnist, political commentator and author” who was named by Red Alert Politics as “one of the 30 most influential right-of-center leaders under the age of 30” in 2016 and by Newsmax in 2017, has written and spoken repeatedly on this fact:
“One state after another is turning from red to purple to blue. America is being radically changed by people leaving blue states for better living conditions and opportunities in red states—only to import to their new homes the very policies that created the misery they fled from in the first place.”
This has libertarians plus all other rational people nonplussed. What is wrong inside people’s heads that they cannot connect two simple dots called cause-and-effect? They respond to the negative effect that blue states have on their lives and their businesses and their overall well-being by abandoning such places for greener pastures in more economically literate red states where they have no comprehension for the cause of their plight and their flight by continuing to vote for the same kinds of politicians and policies that drove them out of their former homes in the first place?
Dot 1: Why did you leave your home state? Dot 2: Because of the disastrous policies imposed by the political punks you voted for. Connection made. Simple.
Today America is neither a republic nor really a nation-state, at least according to this Merriam-Webster definition of a nation-state: “a form of political organization in which a group of people who share the same history, traditions, or language live in a particular area under one government.” But America no longer shares the same history, traditions or political language. We are a shallow ghost of a once functioning Constitutional Republic. Its clear direction today is collectivistic authoritarian rule by a small clique of excessively wealthy, powerful and egotistical elitists who care only to expand their wealth, power and egos forever.
If this irrationality continues there will be no more red states. There will only be one big brutally oppressive Autocratic America. Jacob Hornberger of The Future of Freedom Foundation has challenged all liberty-loving souls to Help Us Light the Darkness:
“There is one light shining through the darkness of the ever-increasing tyranny under which we live. That light is libertarianism. We must continue doing everything we can not only to keep that light lit, but also to increase its intensity and brightness.”
Today there are not enough libertarians to do it. Either we expand exponentially or freedom dies.
Good luck America.
References and Links
The American Spectator (12/28/20) discovered that in 2018 57% of new Texans voted for Rep Ted Cruz over Dem Beto O’Rourke while only 48% of native Texans did. While that’s counter-intuitive there were no 2020 election results available.
Newsweek sees a double-edged sword (7/13/20) People forget that voters leaving blue states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan have subsequently turned those states redder even as they were painting their destination states a bluer hue.
Real Clear Politics sees something else (8/21/20) It’s the Pandemic, Stupid. Democratic Blue state governors and big city mayors are hurting their own party by creating economic devastation locking down their populations and that drives their own voters out.
Slate Sees What’s Killing Blue States (10/26.20) Theory 1= Pandemic shutdowns. Theory 2 = They are more reliant on service industries. Theory 3 = Work-from-home professionals don’t support downtown businesses. Theory 4 = High unemployment benefits.