As everyone else has pointed out, the 2014 mid-term election was a rough one for Democrats. Through a number of liberal reforms, such as expanding marijuana legalization, raising the minimum wage and protecting a woman's right to choose (in two out of three states at least), passed by ballot measures, the future of the liberal agenda seems bleak with Republicans taking control of the Senate and a number of states electing Republican governors.
In the state of Tennessee, as with most of the South, the election results provided no such silver linings for Democrats. Amendment One, which would remove protections for a woman's right to an abortion from the state constitution, passed. Amendment Three, constitutionally banning a state income tax, passed. Controversial Congressman Scott Desjarlais was re-elected. The Republicans increased their supermajority in the state's General Assembly by defeating a number of Democratic incumbents, including popular and progressive State Representative Gloria Johnson, who lost by a slim margin of 183 votes.
It's tough living in a red state as a young liberal. We're outnumbered and our opinions very often fall on deaf ears. As women, the right to make decisions in regards to our body is constantly being threatened and abridged. As students, our tuition increases for the sake of smaller budgets. Even our access to the vote is being threatened with voter ID laws and restriction on early voting and registration.
All these challenges can lead to a jaded and cynical liberal youth. So much so, that young liberals living in red states often express their desire to leave, in favor of a liberal paradise in New England or the West Coast. They take their college degree and move to a blue state, where their opinions are the status quo. However, for each liberal that leaves a red state, there is, consequently, one less liberal in that state. One less liberal to fight for, and vote for, change.
The thing is those liberal strongholds don’t need more liberals. They can take care of themselves. It’s the red state where you were born or where you went to college that needs you. The road will be rough and long. It’ll take years, maybe even decades. But it’s a road that needs to be traveled to enact change.
So, stay in that red state after graduation. Find a job, if you can. Raise a family. Get involved with the local Democratic Party, no matter how small it is. And most importantly, vote. Vote in every election. In states as red as those in the South, where liberals often stay home on Election Day, turnout is key. City elections, county elections and state elections. It’s easier to affect change on the local and state level, where, perhaps, change is the most important. Progress has never been easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be as valuable.
Endure all the conservatism but continue to work for change. Endure, for progress’ sake.