It’s a truism that has almost become a cliche: America is a country that is deeply divided, and the two sides of its political spectrum no longer know how to talk to each other. But has it gotten to the point where some parts of the country are simply uninhabitable for people who hold certain political beliefs?
Some people apparently think so. NPR reported over the weekend on a McKinney-based relocation service that is helping conservatives in more liberal enclaves, like California, find a home in ideologically safer territories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the leader of the pack for conservatives looking to flee the left coast is booming Collin County, where Republican, former Californian, and failed congressional candidate Paul Chabot runs conservativemove.com, a relocation service that promise to “help families move right.” Here’s how Chabot describes his mission to NPR:
Following the defeat, he and his wife concluded that their home state is controlled by what he referred to as an ultra-far-left ideology. “And that left ideology in California are largely wealthy liberal coastal elites that I believe controlled most of California through politics and fundraising and policies, hands down,” he said. But, he added, “when you get to the inland part of these states — the Inland Empire, the Central Valley — these are areas where you have working poor people that are living largely impoverished and forgotten.”
The company was launched in May and already, he claimed, 2,000 families have asked for his help. It’s been an easy sell, he said laughing, because Republicans like Stokes — who are trapped in liberal states — are desperate to leave.
“It’s because of liberal laws that have basically destroyed the infrastructure or the region,” he said.
As the NPR report points out, on a certain level, Chabot isn’t doing anything new. While his mission resonates with an ideological fervor, all he is ultimately doing is buying and selling homes via a smartly targeted marketing campaign. Communities in the United States have long self-segregated in these ways, as the persistent levels of neighborhood-based inequality attest to. But what is worrisome to me is the tenor and tone of that campaign, which picks up on the rhetoric of an irreconcilable disconnected society that is the grist of the bluster of talk radio. I don’t believe this country is as divided ideologically as those who profit from those divisions would have us believe. But what is worrying is that this kind of rhetoric feeds an us-versus-them, me-and-the-other mentality that is only entrenching itself more deeply in the national identity during this rattled American moment.