Yesterday, I posted this diary reflecting upon my six years in Texas and my upcoming move to North Carolina. While hatin' on Texas is an evolved art form for some here, I was quite moved by the many thoughtful comments posted by those with some tie to the Lone Star State. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I've been blessed with the most intelligent, well-informed, literate, witty, and good-looking commenters in Orangesylvania.
Still, hatin' on North Carolina is just ramping up, and some needed to point out that I was simply migrating from the frying pan into the fire:
Good luck in North Carolina, but I predict you'll be moving out of there as well. Find a state where the residents don't feel compelled by God to run your life for you.Those who don't know me might be forgiven for thinking I'd cut and run at the first sign of trouble. Those who do know me would understand that I was sent there to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, at least piss off a bunch of people. Maybe even accomplish something in collaboration with the tens of thousands of others who are rising up against their witless legislators and spineless governor.
Mr. Carolina and I always wanted to retire in the coastal Carolinas, and began looking for land in the 1990's. In 2006, his employer asked him to relocate to either New Jersey or Texas. In 2007, we packed up our New Hampshire household and moved to the Houston suburbs. Why not New Jersey? Let's do the math: if the cost of living in New Hampshire was "X", our cost of living in New Jersey would have been about 1.7X versus about 0.6X in Texas.
We didn't need to boot up our financial plan to figure this out. Living in Texas allowed us to buy half an acre in southeastern NC in 2007; "recession pricing" enabled us to build our "Casa Carolina" in 2009-10. Our lower cost of living also allowed us to help defray expenses for my mom and my mother-in-law, a nice unintended consequence.
We've spent plenty of time in our Carolina home, getting to know our awesome Progressive neighbors. One reason we chose this development was that over 70% of the residents - mostly retirees - were active in non-profit causes in the county. Education, veterans programs, food pantries, environmental causes, animal shelters, elder and hospice care - you name it, they're doing it. Like us, most of these folks were successful professionals with a lot left to give. Volunteering is a way of life, and one more reason I can't wait to get started there.
Now, however, I've been advised to rethink those plans, because:
You and your awesome liberal neighbors have been gerrymanded into a few districts. If you can reverse that your state has a chance. If not, you will see your rights and freedoms dwindle away as the theocracy grows more and more powerful.Not a damn thing, eh? Well, let me introduce you to some of the folks who came before me and gave the status quo a swift kick in the rear. Meet my maternal grandmother, who risked her life collaborating with the German underground helping prominent Jews escape the country after Kristallnacht. She also smuggled thousands of blacklisted books from Germany to the US. Her accomplice? My mom, a teenager at the time, packing up their household under the constant surveillance of members of Hitler's SS.
One morning you will wake up and find you're not allowed to do anything that hasn't been approved by a fundamentalist evangelical minister and his cronies, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.
They were eventually able to come to the US, crossing the mine-strewn Atlantic on stormy winter seas to join my grandfather, a World War I veteran (medical corps) who had preceded them and worked for years to establish his medical practice. Once reunited, they lived in a small apartment in Massachusetts as "enemy aliens", now under constant surveillance by the US State Department.
My mother learned English and took a job working in a munitions factory to support the US war effort, and recovered from the malnutrition induced by living on the run. My grandfather spent most of his American career working for the Veterans Administration getting medical and psychological help for veterans and advancing neurological science. Today, my mom is 88, still physically and politically active, still voting in every election and dragging her friends out to vote as well.
In case you hadn't noticed, our entire country is under siege from corporatist kleptocrats coopting state legislatures to strip away our rights and control our most the most personal aspects of our lives. Safe in your armchair, you may imagine that states like Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio are the only fronts in this war and that [insert name of your state here] is somehow above the fray.
Guess again. If you want to turn your back on us or even scorn us for our ignorance, that's your business, but remember: we're all in this together. Those of us in Texas and North Carolina fight these battles so that we can keep the wolf from your door as well as our own.
Life lived in a constant "prevent defense" is no life at all. Structuring your life, your education, your work, your business dealings, and your travel to avoid places where legislators have succumbed to the creeping evil of ALEC will leave very few places available to you. Why not go where you want, and fight the evil where it arises? Wherever you go, there are fellow Progressives who would welcome a little help. Your courage and engagement could make a real difference in the lives of millions of people.
See you in North Carolina! I'll be there soon, kicking butt... along with everyone else who has been awakened by the kleptocratic overreach.