Being a Liberal in a Red State

1482397_10152071034787489_627239736_nDespite what people in California, New York and other “blue states” think, there are liberals in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and other “red states.”

In fact, there are millions of us.

For me, being a liberal in a red state is often very frustrating.  Sometimes I ask myself, “Does thinking I’m the last sane person on the planet actually make me insane?”  Not because I’m the only liberal I’ve met, but you just feel so overwhelmed by conservative rhetoric that you can easily feel isolated from reality.

As for me, I live in Texas—Dallas to be exact.  Usually when people who follow my page Right Off A Cliff find this out they either say it gives them hope for Texas or they ask how in the world can I stand being a liberal in such a red state.  Trust me, it’s not always easy.

First let me tell you, Texas is not lost.  In fact I live with the belief that Texas is our best hope to ensure a Republican never sees the White House again.  It wasn’t that long ago Texas had a Democratic Governor, Ann Richards.  Not just a Democrat, but a female at that.  Imagine, a female Democratic governor of Texas.  But like he would do to the rest of the country as President, George W. Bush ran her through the mud and became governor in 1995.  Gerrymandering soon followed and Texas has been “strongly Republican” ever since.  We do, however, have a strong and growing liberal base.  Austin, one of the fastest growing cities in the country, is very liberal, and our Latino population (which leans Democrat by a wide margin) is growing as well.

But for now, it’s a red state, and I’m doing what I can to fix that.

During the 2012 election I didn’t put an Obama bumper sticker on my car for fear my car would get vandalized.  My friend had one on hers and she often got flipped off and cussed at while driving because of it.

I rarely saw any Obama yard signs all election season.  I had mine, though I was actually shocked it didn’t get destroyed like it did in 2008.

I did sometimes wear an Obama shirt, which often got me dirty looks from people.  But being 6′ 225 pounds and built like an ex-linebacker does have its advantages–it often keeps people from saying too much.  Though I did have one guy tell me that Obama was going to destroy this country.  I told him it was too late, Bush had already done that.  I don’t think he liked that answer–nor did I care.

My Facebook is filled with conservative friends and family.  I swear, some of the stuff I’ve seen them share is so laughable it’s sad.  And I’m not exaggerating, at least 90% of it is completely untrue.  Not ideological differences, not debatable issues—just completely made up right-wing bullcrap.

I have people who don’t know my political views often approach me and start yapping about the evils of Obama, Democrats and liberals everywhere.  For the most part I just let them rant, usually because my rebuttal to their nonsense would probably just go right over their head.  It’s hard to have a reasonable discussion with someone who opens with, “Obama’s destroying this country with socialism.”  Especially when it’s said by someone who appears to be collecting Social Security and Medicare.

I often feel isolated on an island of crazy.  I simply assume everyone is a conservative, and when I do meet a fellow liberal (not that it’s rare, it’s just not nearly as common as a conservative) I’m usually surprised.

I believe living in a red state does make someone much more jaded about conservatives than if they were living in a state that was more of a balance between liberals and conservative.  The seemingly constant repulsive things I’ve heard from many of these people has been nothing short of shocking.

I’ll say this much—you can’t tell me race has nothing to do with the hatred for Obama.  Hell, most of these people here still think he’s a Muslim and trust me, birthers aren’t gone either.  I’ve heard him called any number of derogatory words for African Americans more than I’ve heard his actual name or “the President.”

If you go anywhere that has a waiting room and a TV, it’s almost always on Fox News.  Which probably explains why most of these people can’t name 5 factual statements about the President.  In over 4 years I don’t think Fox News has even said 5 factual things about him.

Oh yeah I wanted to get this out there, please don’t think Texans like Rick Perry—they don’t, not even Republicans.  But him being our governor does show how sheepish conservative voters can be.  You see, Rick Perry is actually quite unpopular in Texas.  In 2010 he refused to debate his challenger Bill White.  Yes, you read that correctly, an incumbent refused to debate his challenger.  Not only that, he did a complete media blackout with local Texas papers.  Despite all of this, he still won re-election.  It’s a talking point I use against Republicans when they try and attack Democrats.  “You voted for a man who said he had nothing to hide, bragged about his record—then refused to talk to local papers and wouldn’t debate his challenger before the election.”

While I hold my tongue for the most part when faced with right-wing ignorance, my urge to actually use facts and talk about reality gets the best of me from time to time.  This… never goes well.  When debating a Republican in these strongly Republican states you feel as if they’re indoctrinated to say what it is they’re saying, so using facts to support your argument doesn’t make any difference.  It’s why I really view the GOP as more of a cult than an actual political party.  Maybe this is less true for Republicans from swing states or more liberal states, but from strongly conservatives states (at least in my experience), they treat their political party and religion very similarly.

In fact I call it Republicanity, a mixture of Republican and Christianity.  It’s some kind of strange mix of political ideology and faith.  The terrifying part of this is faith doesn’t require facts, yet your political beliefs are supposed to.  When you start treating your political beliefs like religion, you create something that’s much more dangerous.  Climate change has become a hoax, evolution became debatable, history is suddenly fiction and reality is now liberally biased.  Hell, anything that isn’t “right-wing approved media” is liberally biased—even international news reporting.

But I’ll say this, the advantage to being a liberal in a red state is I see first hand the ridiculousness of the Republican Party.  It solidifies my dedication to being a liberal activist, standing against their ignorance and fighting for my cause.  Their ignorance is what I use to fuel my drive against their hypocrisy.  There are times I’m completely exhausted, beaten down and worn out—then I hop on Facebook or see some inflammatory bumper sticker driving and suddenly I feel re-energized.

I say this to liberals in red states (and all liberals really), keep fighting.  I’m not alone, you’re not along—we are not alone.  Make your voice heard, make your presence felt.  I truly believe that the only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

And these issues we face as a nation are too important for us to sit back and do nothing.

About Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column. He is also the founder of the Right Off A Cliff facebook page, on which he routinely voices his opinions and stirs the pot for the Progressive movement. Follow Allen on Twitter as well, @Allen_Clifton.

  • Elizabeth Hamaty

    Where I work in Abilene, TX (the third most conservative city in the nation) we have a little concave of Democrats. Its almost like a secret club. I’ve been called a socialist. When I asked the person what their definition of socialism was, they couldn’t tell me. So I told him our textbook definition. He told me I was wrong. I said this is from the state approved textbook. He said he didn’t care I was still wrong. This was a fellow teacher. I agree, facts have nothing to do with what they believe. Ninety-eight percent of scientist believe in climate change? They’re wrong. You can’t reason with them.

  • Elizabeth Hamaty

    Y’all quit responding to AntiLiberal. He just wants attention and he’s so desperate for it, even bad attention is fulfilling to him. I’ve dealt with teenagers like this. Best to just ignore the poor thing. Bless his heart,

  • LeahCBarr

    Liberal in Indiana, checking in! Thank you for this, Allen. I feel like I could’ve written it myself. Things in Indiana are at least *as* bad, but nobody talks about it because we’re not considered a ‘swing’ state and we don’t have the huge population Texas has. You just got yourself a new Twitter follower.

  • Fact Checker Guy

    I’m also a Dallas based Liberal. So I can relate. I wouldn’t say I’m a deep blue liberal, more of a deep aqua with a touch of red. I base my beliefs on facts I’ve researched myself without the help of the media and but still hold some traditional Texas ideas. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, I can’t wait to hear from my ultra conservative/ religious family members. Debating them is always entertaining. Like dropping a Mentos in a bottle of Coke and waiting to see what happens.

  • Michael Andrade

    Great article. I live in San Francisco. Meeting or talking to a Republican or a conservative here is about as likely as an iceberg in hell. I’m aware I live in a progressive bubble. I need to get to the “heartland” for a dose of red state insanity. Keep up the good work in turning Texas blue.