When most people choose where to live, they consider the climate, the job opportunities, or the quality of the schools. Yet today, as more states pass extreme legislation, the most important consideration in determining where to live may be a person’s political leanings.
Take North Carolina, for example. It’s difficult to believe that four years ago the state was beginning to lean left. Today it has become one of the most conservative states in the nation: “Since the state’s legislative session began in January, lawmakers have blocked a Medicaid expansion under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, reduced access to federal unemployment benefits, cut the corporate tax rate, trimmed public-education funding, passed a bill that allows concealed weapons in bars and restaurants, tackled welfare reform, proposed a ban on Shari‘a, restricted access to abortion and enacted stricter voting laws” (Time). So if a person needs Medicaid, unemployment benefits, a good public education, welfare, freedom of religion, an abortion, or wants to be assured of the right to vote–North Carolina is not the state of choice. However, for wealthy corporations and gun advocates, it appears to be a great choice.
The danger of one political party controlling both the House and the Senate can clearly be seen in states like North Carolina. The only option for those who disagree with the new laws is public protest, and North Carolinians have been doing just that. Every Monday citizens demonstrate at the Capital in Raleigh. They call what they are doing “Moral Monday.” Republicans have renamed the event “Moron Monday” protests by “aged hippies” (Time).
North Carolina is not the only state experiencing such a political shift. 26 states are currently under Republican control, and many of those states, including Alabama, Texas, and Ohio, have recently passed extreme legislation (StateScape). In examining attitudes regarding abortion, the Pew Research Center recently found that while national attitudes have not shifted significantly since the 1990s, regional attitudes have changed tremendously: “The Pew study shows that in the South Central part of the country, support for keeping abortion legal decreased from 50 percent in 1995-1996 to 42 percent in 2012-2013. South Central includes Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry just signed into law new restrictions on abortion. The South Central area and the Midwest were the only regions to experience significant drops in support. Support declined from 55 percent to 47 percent in the Midwest. The regional differences echo the 2012 electoral map” (Atlantic Wire).
It’s not difficult to imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when instead of talking about moving to Canada when national politics aren’t agreeable, people will be uprooting their families and relocating to different states. This, of course, will only further reinforce the political divide within the country, leaving me to wonder if we shouldn’t consider a name change from the United States of America to the Divided States of America.