OPINION: Liberals should rethink red state biases

A white farmhouse sits on a brown field covered in snow.
Texas saw single-digit temperatures and power outages in both Feb. 2011 and in Feb. 2021. (Courtesy: David Ingram via flickr)

Last month, I was glued to my screen following news coverage of the Texas power outage and blackouts when I came across tweets that were hostile towards suffering Texans. I know well enough to not receive all my news from Twitter, but that day I felt it was important to pay attention to the live accounts from Texans that may have been lost in the 24-hour news cycle.

The animosity I saw on social media during the power outage laid clear the sweeping assumptions that liberals in blue states often make when referring to people in red states like Texas. In the United States, the way we generalize regions and states as red or blue, boiling them down to the area’s predominant party, only serves to pigeonhole groups of people and encourage division. The people in Texas who are suffering, who need our support and aid, did not vote for these winter storms, the disaster of mass power outages or the fatal conditions.

People who resort to this kind of rhetoric are blatantly proving that their ideological conscience is dependent on liberalism, and that they view people in states that voted for Republican representatives as guilty for the fate that befalls them. This demonstrates how some are only able to extend their sympathy and understand the humanity of others if the affected group can prove that they fall in the accepted range of progressivism.

First of all, the assumption from the left that everyone in a red state is conservative is erroneous.

And, if we look at the results of the 2020 elections, it’s clear that Texas was split virtually in half party-wise, so arguing that everyone in Texas voted for the Republican party is untrue. 

Additionally, many seem to actively overlook the facts that many Texas counties are heavily gerrymandered, and that voter suppression as an institution has run rampant in Texas for over a century, which skew election results. 

Not to mention, many of the people who were affected by the blackouts were undocumented and unable to vote in most major elections, making the argument that Texans deserve this horrible fate based on their wrong views faultier. 

The idea that Texans should suffer from the effects of severe blackouts because they didn’t elect a progressive candidate also contradicts the value of protecting human rights that was once so important during the Trump presidency. Opposing Republican governance is one thing, but slinging blame and condescension towards the victims of said governance is morally reprehensible.

As a 5C student, I realize the vast majority of us exist in a blue bubble, and we need to reevaluate our view of the country. Many of us are politically aware, especially of social justice issues, but we cannot, in good faith, use that label if we hold such limited judgments of people living in red states, especially in the South.

To say that what we need is empathy sounds pontifical at worst and naive at best, but I truly believe that there is a disconnect between the caricature of the South that many coastal liberals have in their mind and the reality of the complex socio-political atmosphere that exists in states such as Texas. In fact, Texas has become more and more liberal over the last several years, as the fight against voter suppression continues

I suggest that we get rid of the distinction of “red states” and “blue states” when we discuss humanitarian crises. Nothing good can come from writing off an entire state as some unsalvageable territory. 

Even if you believe you have no stake in the outcome of the power crisis in Texas, or in any Southern state, if you consider yourself to be politically minded it is imperative to see people who live in the United States as more than just their state’s affiliation on an electoral map. If you do feel compelled to help out, here are some links to mutual aid funds. Mutual aid funds can be an impactful alternative to charities, as they offer direct support with none of the corporate caveats.

London Lordos SC ’24 is from Arlington, Virginia, but is currently living on a sustainable farm in Pennsylvania.

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