Map of USA with state and territory names
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By Bob Gaydos
"Would you be upset if any of these states left the Union?"
That provocative question, accompanied by a map of the United States with the entire South, from South Carolina to Florida to Texas, all in one color, showed up on my Facebook feed about a week ago.
It was easy enough to answer. "No, "I said, "and they should add Kentucky."
That was the glib. quick answer Facebook likes. But the question also reminded me of a column I had written about a decade ago. The headline was, "10 states where my sons should not live, ever".
Now, ever is a long, long time, but it's amazing just how well that list has held up.
The column was inspired by a conversation I had with a former newspaper colleague about a congressman from Florida who claimed there were 80 Democratic members of Congress who were Communists. I had written an editorial about the guy. My friend and I agreed he was a moron. He was also a Republican.
Then I thought about all those states other than Florida that were also represented and governed by officials who make similarly idiotic statements all the time and was grateful I didn't live in any of those states. So I wrote a column warning my sons off. So far, they've paid attention.
That original list included Texas, Arizona, Alaska, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee and, yes, Kentucky (at least I'm consistent).
I added a watchlist that included Georgia, Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana. Only Georgia appears to be escaping my newly expanded list of states to avoid, but it's still on the watch list. Missouri now also makes the big list.
The primary criteria for making the original list were: Rampant racism, anti-intellectualism, bigotry, intolerance, religious fanaticism, and electing morons to office over and over again. The criteria still apply, but I would add to them fanatical Trumpism, anti-Vaccism, a refusal to wear masks to avoid spreading Covid, and the casual acceptance of violence as a solution to political grievances.
One more thing. Voters in the states consistently elect officials who vote against their own constituents' welfare and who view politics as a war to be won at all costs rather than an exercise in democratic compromise for the greater good. I guess that's Trumpism after all. (I guess I also now will be labeled "elitist" in all these states.)
The solution? The ideal one would be electing officials who value education and inclusion. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon in many of these states. There are simply not enough local Republican politicians willing to buck the fear factor in opposing Trump. So for now at least, it means electing as many Democrats as possible in state elections. Georgia may be leading the way in this. Eliminating the Electoral College in choosing the presidents would also help.
But in the meantime, sons and like-minded readers, avoid all states mentioned in this column.
Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange-com.