5 Things Red State Liberals Want Blue State Liberals To Know

I am a red state liberal. I know, I know we aren’t supposed to be a “thing” but we are. There is something that goes on but often goes unaddressed within liberal circles- the tension between some red state and blue state liberals. There are some things that we liberals in the red states would like people to know about us. Here are some of them-enjoy!

1. We stay in our red states for various reasons.  

I live in Mississippi. I came here to go to school, and I fell in love with the people. So I stayed. Many people live in red states because that is where they have always lived. It’s where their family is. Some of us couldn’t move if we wanted to due to finances or family obligations. Some of us love our jobs, our homes, our neighbors, our communities- basically all the reasons people stay in blue states. Our choice to live here and not let the right wing just have ownership of our home states should be respected, not ridiculed or questioned with statements like “why don’t you just leave.”

2) We do fight back!

Just because you see a Republican controlled state running amok doesn’t mean that liberals on the ground are not fighting back. We are! Mississippi is a great example for every horrible bill you see signed by our Governor there are 30-40 more that people fought to get rid of. Just because you don’t see it in the news doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

3) Those really bad laws the GOP tries out in red states? Your states aren’t immune. 

I often hear from blue state liberals that they are so grateful they don’t “live in a state like Mississippi.” On the surface, I understand what they mean. I also think they are naive to think the Koch brothers, ALEC, Americans United for Life, the Tea Party, and other groups with far right agendas plan to confine their activities to red states. They do not. For proof, look no further than the U.S. House of Representatives, where the same extreme abortion laws we have seen at the state level are being presented at the federal level.

4) We need your support, not your pity or your scorn.  

Here’s the thing: we red state liberals get that red states statistically receive more federal tax money than we kick in. We get it. What is not productive is every time there is an article or discussion about something happening in one of our states that the people on our side fight to remind us. We aren’t the other side. We are on the team. It isn’t helpful in conversations about red states to default to “I feel so sorry for you.” Don’t. It’s not helpful to tell us how our states are so <fill in the blank>. Blue states aren’t without problems of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and oppression. Red states don’t own these areas. What is helpful is that we all support each other in making strides in politics and liberal causes.

5) We do exist! 

Since I live in the very red state of Mississippi, I get this all the time: “Where are the liberals in your state?” We are here. We are on the ground doing work; we are raising money for candidates, fighting back against horrid legislation and ballot initiatives, working for environmental causes and a host of other things. Just because you see big gains by the republicans doesn’t even mean it’s a true representation of the states electorate. Look no further than the effect gerrymandering has had on Pennsylvania where, despite a slight majority of democrats, the voting lines are skewed in favor of the GOP.

The bottom line is when people say things like “why doesn’t state X just secede” they are speaking about all of us in that state including the liberals. When liberals choose to dismiss and write off the efforts of liberals running for office in red states because “it’s too hard” or “it’s hopeless” we are effectively saying people in those states don’t deserve the same freedoms and opportunities that we believe in. When we as liberals traffic in classist stereotypes about whole areas of the country being stupid, poor, and uneducated we are no better than people who are trying to restrict who can vote and saying it’s for the same reasons.

We are supposed to be the big tent group. That tent reaches over red states too. Sometimes we don’t feel the love.

Edited by SS


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About Laurie Bertram Roberts

Laurie Bertram Roberts is the president of Mississippi National Organization for Women, a feminist activist, full spectrum doula and writer in Jackson, MS. Her family suspected she was trouble when at age 8 she preferred reading weekly news magazines over girly magazines. Her early fascination with liberal ideals, women's rights, was not quite welcome in her conservative fundamentalist Christian home. She is incredibly passionate about reproductive justice and fighting all forms of oppression. When not speaking truth to power she is likely hanging out with her children watching sci fi or doing other nerd like things.


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  • Liam White

    Yes we know you exist and that you’re “there”. You’re also clearly ineffectual, so perhaps dedicate the same passion used in this hamhandedly written “top 5 list”, and effect some policy. You guys STINK.

    • Janice Pushinsky

      Liam without a picture it is easy for you to say whatever you want to say and save face isn’t it. I am from a red state also but we are turning my state blue. It won’t happen over night but Obama won in all the major cities in my state. It was all those uninformed voters who live in the boonies that only get fox news station on their radio who voted for the loser.

      • Dead_Mariner

        It was the same in Mississippi. Stupid redneck morons that have been “educated” by Fox Propaganda are keeping our state down.

        • DavidD

          These so called stupid redneck’s grand parents had FDR’s picture in their kitchen .The GOP has made great efforts to reach people down here while liberals sit on their hands and whine insults from the sidelines.
          If you want something you must work hard for it and that includes reaching white working class whites.
          Calling us stupid redneck morons speaks to your intelligence more than ours.

    • Big Dizzy

      In a Democracy, political minorities don’t have the power to effect much change. You’re really showing off your privilege, it must be nice living somewhere that most people agree with you.

    • Andy

      Wow. Way to miss the entire point.

      Texas (my state), for example, is probably somewhere around 30% blue, give or take. Most of that is in the larger cities. We are not going to make sweeping changes in a very short time, no matter how passionate we are. We have jobs and lives that prevent us from spending 80 hours a week trying to convince people they are voting against their own interests. What do you expect from us? Do you have any idea the lengths that Republicans have gone to to make it difficult to turn red states blue? It is incredibly complex and convoluted, and it will not change overnight.

      You are the problem here. Grow up.

      • Mimi Lou

        I recently read that Texas isn’t really a red state; it’s a state that doesn’t vote. So, we work on getting out the vote.

        • Andy

          It’s definitely a state that doesn’t vote. But it’s probably still kind of reddish-purple. That 30% was a number I pulled out of nowhere based on a few polls I’ve seen, but I was deliberately underestimating in order to not suggest something I didn’t know about.

          This isn’t a perfect measure, either, but Wikipedia says 41% of Texans voting for president in 2012 voted democratic, and 57% voted republican. If in fact the liberal vote is lower than the true number of liberals in Texas (as is suggested given that hispanics have lower voter turnout), then Texas is definitely kind of purple. And make no mistake, Texas republicans know this. They also know that Texas is by far the biggest red state, population-wise, and that if Texas were to vote democratic in the next presidential election, they have absolutely no chance of winning. They will continue to fight tooth-and-nail to keep it.

          We won’t get there this year. Barring a miracle, Abbott will win. Maybe next time.

      • DavidD

        You nailed it.Loved the last sentence.

    • Mimi Lou

      “Lotta” help you are, Liam. Did you miss the point that we are on the same side? Did you even read the article?

    • Ilene Leftwing

      See, YOU are the problem. You are not a true Liberal if this is how you think.

    • wjshelton

      Then why don’t you come down and help us out instead of sneering at us from on high. Oh, wait. We don’t need your condescending attitude here. Stay where you are.

    • Marjorie McKinstry-Miller

      Ineffectual… Interesting. I live in Virginia, and we were a red state. But the real liberals (actual liberals seeking progress, not those who naysay the ones with the guts to stick it out in a tough area and fight) fought, and we fought hard. We voted for Obama in the last election. We chose Mark Warner over Gillespie (a Tea Party darling) in a closely contested race this past Tuesday. We are now considered a blue state. We’ve not only placed the former governor under arrest, we’ve found him AND his wife guilty of corruption.

      I’m not sure what odor it is that you think you smell but, as my Southern Belle grandmother once explained, the fox always smells its own hole.

  • Christian Hanneman

    I’ve known liberals from red states and have a lot of respect for them and for what they have to put up with. Not only do they have to deal with conservatives but with the judgmental self-righteous people in the liberal community some of which are as awful as the tea baggers!

    • Taymie

      thank you

  • Ellee Nestegard

    Trust me when I tell you it’s tough being a liberal in red states like South Dakota. It’s even tougher running for office as a Democrat in red states like South Dakota. It’s not a matter of being “clearly ineffectual” as Liam White might like to see… effecting policy takes more liberals speaking out and taking action instead of taking a “we’re the under dog and we’re sorry we’re not Republicans” attitude that goes along with decades of feeling beaten down by the conservatives in the states where we live. I, for one, am proud to be a Democrat and I will never ever apologize for it.

  • Asher Frost

    Total Agreement from Austin TX (Which is the blue dot in the big red minefield of Texas)

    • Shannon Sprouse-Ross

      Definitely! I leave Austin and I’m surrounded by McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan bumper stickers that are disgustingly paired with the bumper sticker “The day they outlaw guns is the day I become an outlaw.” Ugh!

    • I call BS

      This is also annoying. All the large cities in Texas lean blue. Austin doesn’t have ownership of liberalism in Texas. Houston has a gay mayor for god’s sake. Most of the border counties also lean blue. Austin is actually a tiny blue dot working in partnership with bigger blue dots.

      • Asher Frost

        Fair enough. That’s why I called it a minefield, and not an ocean. There are safe spots, they are just few and far between.

        • DavidD

          Oh bullshit,.I live in East Texas and I’m a Social Democrat..Liberals like to feel special and put upon so they don’t have to talk to people who are different than them.
          The reason I live in East Texas is that it has some of the nicest people in the state.
          Austin used to be that way to until all the hipsters and day trippers tried to slum with the creative people and the cost of living rose so high that the creative people moved away.
          Denton outside of Dallas is what Austin used to be.

          • Asher Frost

            Driving to Ft Worth I’ve had guys in trucks try to run me off the road for having an Obama 12 sticker on my car. I’ve heard more homophobic slurs (Basically for having long hair) driving from Austin to Galveston than I heard in SLC over the 12 years I lived there.

            Maybe if you go farther east it gets better, but I don’t get out of the car anymore until we’re back in a major-ish city.

            • DavidD

              People in East Texas are older and are not inclined as much to such childish behavior.Also we are more inclined to mind our own business than some folk
              .In rural East Texas a lot of conservative people are really nice people..
              I’m an old man who has no business in getting into a fight but if someone insults me personally i’m inclined to take it as far that individual wants to take it.I try to walk away though but I have my limits.
              I have long hair and a beard for 35 years but I stay out of urban cities which it probably just as well.Except for a few comments I have never had any problem and even then the comments were pretty easy to blow off.
              If some one tries to run you off the road then report them to the sheriff or police or DPS..We have rather strict laws about that.Get a licsence number
              Of course being 6′ 8″ and being rather stout precludes some conflict but there is always some idiot that wants to take on the big man so I stay out of bars .

    • DavidD

      Seven out of eight of the urban counties of Texas voted for the President and Montrose in Houston makes Austin look tame..

  • notoldandwhiny

    I totally disagree with the premise bad mouthing a region is as bad as restricting the right to vote but otherwise understand where you are coming from..

  • Andy

    This is a great article. I’m so tired of people talking shit about my state or making blanket statements or telling us to just secede already. Progressives are supposed to be above stereotypes and baseless name calling. I love my state and I’m not moving anytime soon, but I will continue to stand up against bullshit wherever I find it.

    Thank you for writing this. Maybe I will link to it when I find progressives that aren’t acting like grown-ups.

  • Peter Simatos

    It starts at the grass roots. If you can only fiscally support one candidate, make it a local liberal. Leave the statewide and federal support to the people who can afford it. Help get that liberal Commisioner elected.

  • Ilene Leftwing

    As a Georgia Liberal, I thank you for this! I love my state and I love the South. What I hate is what the Republicans have done to it. We will turn this around but we need the love and support of the Blue States to help us along. ‘Republicans in Georgia! How did they ever get in!’

    • Kelli Crackel

      From a fellow Georgia Liberal, well-said.

      • Mary Shew


    • William J. Hamilton

      I was born here, but after 53 years in SC, I don’t live the South any more. I’ve seen it destroy a lot of good people and reward the utterly unfit. Mark Sanford is my congressman.

      • Mary Shew

        Enough said.

      • Sandy Moran

        Hello fellow Liberal South Carolinian. Nice to know you are here.

  • Billy Howell

    As an Alabama liberal, I actually understand when people talk down about my state. Even the people I like, make me shake my head with some of the ignorant things that come out of their mouth. I do want to move. I have twice. I was in Ohio and New York but had to come back for various reasons. I hope the next move breaks me out of the grasp of this black hole.

    • DavidD

      Go kiss up to your Yankee friends and maybe they will give you a piece of sowbelly if you look pitiful enough.If you don’t have the courage to fight back we don’t need you.
      Go play the self hating fool for the people who despise you.

  • Bum, James Bum

    I think my issue with the Dems in Red states is fairly simple: when running for office, they become Repub-lite. Most likely, you’re going to lose anyway, why not go full board. We Liberals cannot fix this country by allowing the Conservatives to set the agenda, then having our candidates being slightly less conservative. Fight them on any issue, using facts and stats, and we will win.

  • Kit Kimberly

    You blue states better watch out– North Carolina was a blue/purple state, always moderate and even progressive on some things (education) til 2 years ago, when the Koch bros and Art Pope basically bought out our legislature.

    It happened fast because we weren’t prepared, and it could happen to you. Now NC is #51 in public education :-(

    • Mary Shew

      When the people come to the realization that Republicans only want a good education for themselves and not the country people MUST come to that realization and vote the bums out. Hey you southern red states wake up and learn about how they will enslave you. Stop believing their rhetoric.

  • SophieCT

    Hi from a liberal Yankee in a blue state. I can appreciate your points and I feel for your position. I also appreciate your heads-up that it could happen to any of us, like NC and PA.
    What can we do to help? Because frankly, we cannot continue to allow the country to be held hostage by what Bobby Jindal ironically called the party of stupid.

    • DavidD

      You can help by checking out the Institute for Southern Policy Studies.We need all the help we can get down here and the Democratic Party Leadership here must either start running candidates that run as FDR populist Democrats or be replaced by a leadership that will.A similar struggle is probably called for in your state.

  • Walter Pewen

    But you put up with lot. And for some of us, it’s too much in 2014. On a lot of “causes” we are running out of time. Environmentalism is #1. I’m definitely a Left Coast born and raised, and I can assure you that in suburban SoCal we had the same crap as you do to contend with. We are admittedly fast paced and just said no, despite Reagan, who wouldn’t get dog catcher now. It’s sort of like the 30’s and FDR-there’s not the luxury to wait any longer. My complete sympathies with your struggles, I’m not sure the U.S. is prepared to wait after the last 34 years.

  • wjshelton

    As a fifth-generation Oklahoman, I can guarantee that the liberal progressive values I have always held and for which I have fought for most of my 60-plus years were taught to me, more often than not by example, by other native Oklahomans of an older generation. We are here. We are proud. Oklahoma is our home.

  • http://www.vision-for-america.com Werner Neff

    I congratulate Laurie Bertram Roberts for her conviction as a liberal in a red State! That is real democracy! Democracy is the process of change of Party colors and standing for a position. One phrase is remarkable: We are not on the other side, we are on the team. Urgently needed solutions for the ‘States are nor Blue nor Red but American! I wrote about this topic on my book: Vision for America.

  • Jimmy Zuma

    I’m sorry my friend, Mississippi is lost. It’ll be the last state to come out of any kind of coma, just like it always has been. The country is full of nice people. You shouldn’t feel defensive about staying, of course. But likewise no one should be reluctant to suggest moving. They have your best interests at heart.

    • DavidD

      Where in the hell do you get off telling us to move from our homes you arrogant bastard.
      Your attitude stinks of supposed superiority of your situation that is not justified by reality..
      Your people are rude,your food is bland and your climate is intolerable.
      Why would we want to live in a culture that raised greed to a whole new level and family and friends have so little value compared to the all mighty dollar.
      We are not your friends and your arrogance blinds you in your assumptions.
      Typical fucking know it all Yankee.

    • Clay Moore

      Perhaps next time you should read for comprehension rather than condescension.

  • Kelli Crackel

    From a fellow liberal in a red state (GA). Thank you for this. I often encounter this kind of thing on the internet and it blows my mind. I was born in GA. My family has been here since the potatoes in Ireland gave out (@1848). It’s my home. Everyone in the world I love is here. I LOVE my home, and when you love something, you don’t abandon it because it displeases you. You work to improve the thing you love. And we are working so very hard. We shouldn’t be punished because we are trying to change things in the hardest places in America to achieve change. I was taught that working hard at a monumental goal was a good thing. When did it change?

  • William J. Hamilton

    Most importantly, please understand that many of us will be fighting a doomed rear guard action for the remainder of our lives. We have elderly parents to care for. We’re upside down in houses. We’re too old to find a job in Boston or San Francisco. We’re stuck here. Our children, however, will be leaving. We are the last generation of the resistance. Our dream is for your children to have rich, rewarding lives and raise our grandchildren in the places you have control of. If you can do nothing else, please be kind to our children as the venture out to blue states to find their way in life. Don’t make fun of them because they’re not full conversant in what is going on there. Many of them have already fought longer and harder for social justice at 18 than some of you will do in a lifetime. If they screw up in college, on the job or at the meeting, cut them some slack. We’re going to die here, in these backward hell holes after leaving a meeting where the attendance has fallen to a few tired, old people with gray hair who hare here, the liberal resistance. Don’t make us do that knowing that we’ve failed to manage an escape for your children. We are willing to be the 300 Spartans. Just don’t lock our children out of the walls of Athens.

  • Candy Kane

    Look at the states Franklin Roosevelt carried. Part of how he was able to do that was with properly arguing for and defending his liberal policies. This current Democratic Party doesn’t do that.

  • bayhuntr

    If I didn’t think there were liberals in red states, I wouldn’t donate money to red state politicians. I live in California they usually don’t need my support.

  • El Che

    Native Kentuckian living in Colorado…every time I see the stats and hear the dialog it makes me sad and reminds me why I left.

  • Sweetirony

    i don’t mind pity, it sucks being in a red state surrounded by idiots, I live in tennessee, just help if you are going to feel sorry for me.

  • http://florforhillary.blogspot.com/ Eddie Bryan

    I grew up in New York. My mom was a Catholic women who got a divorce. She married a southern man and had two sons. I am the last of those. We moved to Florida in 1970, where my father was from and where his “people” still lived. For a while it was quite fun. A new south arose out of the angry and hostile 60’s. The south saw there was truth in many of the arguments against Vietnam and put more open minded people in office such as Jimmy Carter and Reuben Askew. Somehow things went wrong in the 80’s. Do you think your own personal life reflected that? We had fights, we fell apart from one another, we fell back on old theories and up rose Ronald Reagan. Now we are in the 21st century and fighting for solar power among other things. This is the Sunshine State though it has often seemed it’s disposition was not so sunny. I follow a Sadguru. I have been able to do that, thank God, though there is little encouragement for the path. I see that in liberalism as well. They call it religion. It isn’t. It’s an experience. She is very much for sunny dispositions. She wrote a book of poems called Smile, Smile, Smile. A teacher I follow, D. R. Butler, explains Yoga Vasishtha to us. We create our own world. We are responsible for what this world is, the dark and ignorant thoughts we have allowed have created it. So, be light hearted, dwell on the positive in mind, in thought. D. R. is from Mississippi but now lives in Pennsylvania. He moved to Greenwich Village from Mississippi.
    I read a book about letting the South secede. It was interesting. The notion of getting away from a difficult situation is always appealing. The author mentioned mouth breathers. I remember my 4th grade teacher, a southern woman making a comment about my open mouth, she asked me if I was trying to catch flies with it. The only flies I cared about were flies in the outfield. My hero in baseball was Mickey Mantle. I didn’t know he was a southerner. He didn’t speak a lot in those days. Another hero I had whose southern accent escaped me was Elvis Presley. They have made El into a religious thing and a symbol of American patriotism. He was never that to me. I just liked girls. I liked also the Kennedys and Dylan and Willie Mays. I think it is a matter of culture. Have you given up on hippies? Stephan Gaskin in Tennessee. Do the liberals even know him. He ran for president in the Green Party. Lost to Nader. Liberals might have to give up meat to hang out with Stephan. Is that the problem? The cars? The homes? The drugs in many cases. So, you say it’s not the liberals who won’t let us live in our Woodstock dream? It’s not the liberals who say the Siddha yogis or Siddha students are living in a bubble? What do you think of all those non-voters? It’s interesting Bill Clinton is a vegan now, but does he meditate. Would he meet a Sadguru? Saguru Swami (Gurumayi) Chidvilasananda? Do the blue state liberals see no help there?

  • Ariana Sexton-Hughes

    Awwwwwww….. This is sooooooo sweet! And, even though i’m a New Yorker, i’m not being sarcastic in celebrating your great explanation.

  • Taymie

    it is damned hard to live here in Oklahoma and believe strongly in the right of a person working full time to both eat and get medication when needed, the inherent humanity in all people regardless of race, and the right of women to safely dress however they wish. Most of my neighbors and family don’t stand with me, but HERE, my voice matters more than it does in places where most people speak the way I do, here my silence if FELT because there are so few of us.

    it’s easy to go along with what your neighbors are doing. Try speaking the same words where they are lined against you. It is much harder to stand up when you stand out, but I truly believe, this is where we liberals are most needed. Where we are least represented.

  • Kentucky Liberal

    It’s hard being a liberal in Kentucky but I will stand my ground to the end because I love Kentucky. As a historian, my observation is that those people (keep in mind we’re talking southern red states) who benefited the most from all that FDR did are more likely to be Republicans today. In short, people who were poor, uneducated, and often times not very religious, got themselves all gussied up thanks to FDR, but now their descendants think they did it all by themselves! I know that sounds crass, but it’s true.

  • aleatharhea

    Texas liberal here. I’m pleased to agree, but please, for the love of… can we please ashcan that tired, meaningless, stupid phrase, “on the ground”? Why does every single person have to put that phrase in every single thing they write (it feels like)? It doesn’t sound cool; it never sounded cool.