As anyone who reads this column regularly knows, I was a stanch member of Team Reality from the very beginning of the insane, inept response to the Covid-19 pandemic wrought by the powers that be. I decried lockdowns in March 2020. I declared my staunch opposition to mask-wearing in May/June 2020 when the first evil stench of mandates began wafting about. In column after column and tweet after tweet, I consistently challenged the prevailing narrative.
At the time (thankfully less so now), I was always a bit concerned with getting canceled and losing my platform, especially on social media, a cloud that I’ll admit worked to temper my written words to some degree. In real life, however, anyone who knows me personally will testify that I never held back in my human-to-human interactions when discussing these matters.
Still, words – written and spoken – are easy. Living them out is a bit more difficult. Plenty of keyboard warriors will write a lot of ‘brave’ things, but if you examined their everyday life you’d find hypocrisy in every corner. For me, here in east Tennessee, bucking Covid restrictions wasn’t all that difficult. A mask mandate was in place for nearly a year, but there were no teeth behind it. I could walk maskless into a Walmart virtually unchallenged except for maybe a few glaring stares. Most restaurants, knowing the absurdity of the whole ‘walk masked to the table then remove it’ nonsense, never really even tried aside from being forced to post the silly sign.
If I lived in California, Oregon, or even Ohio where Republican leadership went wild with the Covid mania, things may have been different. Sure, I’d like to think I would have been as bold and cantankerous, consistently defying every sort of mask requirement those places could throw at me, but maybe the constant cloud of strict mandates, stringent enforcement, and near-universal compliance would have worn even me down eventually. In my defense, I do remember laughing at a masked Covidien who cussed me out on an elevator in Miami for not wearing one in early 2021, but whether I could have consistently maintained that stand day after day while living somewhere deep blue is unknowable.
This brings me to my larger point: It matters where you live. It matters A LOT. In Tennessee, we were able to live largely as we wanted, even during those few weeks when things were largely closed and even during the toothless county mask ‘mandate’ they put on the books. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’ll never forgive them for that, but I’ll at least give them credit for making it as benign as possible. And I wasn’t usually alone. Even during the height of the county mask mandate and the Delta surge, at least 10-20% of shoppers in any store were maskless also. We would often smile at each other knowingly, happy to see another sane person in a sea of sheeple.
But what if you are the ONLY sane person? At what point do you break down? And before you judge and sanctimoniously declare you would never relent, think about the times when you meekly stepped on board a plane wearing a useless face muzzle, because we all did if we wanted or needed to fly.
The point is, the power and peace that comes with living with and around other like-minded people cannot be measured. Power because people who think like you make the rules, rules you generally agree with and can easily abide by. Peace because there is less social unrest generated by crazed leftists, who in red areas are generally consigned to the occasional Pride parade or the corner of some college street where most everyone else ignores them as they go about their day.
No wonder hordes of people moved to Florida and other ‘free’ states during the pandemic. But what are the long-term ramifications of such natural migration? We saw some of it last month as Florida reelected Ron DeSantis by an overwhelming margin. But as freedom-loving people migrate away from places with less freedom, will they eventually cede what’s left of those places irrevocably to the left? What of those narrow House races did Republicans win in California and New York? If a few hundred of those voters jump ship for Texas, Florida, or Tennessee, will Republicans have a shot at keeping their already narrow majority in that chamber in coming election cycles?
Conservative commentators like Jesse Kelly and Steve Deace consistently urge like-minded people living in blue areas to pack up and leave for greener, er, redder pastures, and if I were among those people I would wholeheartedly agree and likely follow that advice if I could. So I don’t blame them at all. However, if enough conservatives leave ‘purple’ places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and even Georgia after Brian Kemp’s term ends, will any GOP candidate have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the presidency again?
The tea leaves aren’t difficult to read. While politically motivated migration does make red states redder, it also can make blue areas bluer and purple areas blue. This trend will eventually lead to Democrats obtaining a vice-grip on federal power under the current system. If and when this happens, the only recourse for freedom-loving people will be to push extreme federalism within their red states, and if that doesn’t work, push for eventual secession from the union entirely.