American businesses and families are leaving Blue states in record numbers for destinations like Texas, Florida, and Georgia. This migration of people, businesses, and tax dollars has prompted claims of a “Blue state exodus” prompted by “leftist politicians imposing leftist ideology.” As expressed by Utah’s Senator Mike Lee, the “exodus” proves that “the Left’s policies don’t work.” But does the movement of taxpayers from Blue to Red states really signal a rejection of progressive policies? This Essay argues that, before accepting that interpretation, we should consider another possibility. Perhaps Blue states aren’t overly progressive, but insufficiently so. Paralyzed by political dynamics that keep them from offering affordable housing and addressing police violence, and prevented by the Supreme Court from taking aggressive action on gun violence and public health, Blue states are losing taxpayers and unable to attract Red state refugees seeking to escape punishing anti-Black, anti-choice, and anti-LGBTQ+ policies, in large measure because they’re unable to offer a sufficiently meaningful alternative to life in Red America to justify their higher cost of living. This account of the Blue state exodus has very different implications from Lee’s. It suggests that, rather than tacking to the center, Blue states should redouble efforts to prioritize affordability, stop subsidizing Red states, and position themselves to insist on a new national settlement—one in which civil rights, economic justice, and sound public administration are respected across the nation.
Jon D. Michaels and David L. Noll
Blue State Exodus?,
2023 Pepp. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr/vol2023/iss1/4