Image: Electoral results in Mississippi, 2015 (L) and 2019 (R)
After every election, there are always news reports and Op Eds about the results from red states. Living in the south as I do, it’s disheartening to see the majority of comments from outsiders who’d rather mock us than help us. Today, I’m not going to brush it off with another in a long line of “Yeah, we know. We’re used to it.”
Today, I want to address it.
We know you want change. We do too. This isn’t fun for us, either.
I know you’re tired of seeing low information voters shoot themselves in the foot by voting against their own self interest.
But however much tired you are of seeing it, multiply that by a hundred, and that will still be a fraction of how tired we are of LIVING IT.
There are millions of impoverished and disenfranchised voters living down here. Millions. Fighting, clawing, kicking, and screaming. Doing the work.
We need help. Not ridicule.
I’m not saying coddle and pander to every redneck yahoo you come in contact with. And I hate hate hate the “more flies with honey” crap, because (a) it’s not true and (b) there are just some types of people you will never reach.
We are watching and listening
I AM asking you to please be mindful and deliberate in how you choose to address this situation. Especially if you don’t live in this hot mess.
On the whole, I truly believe that the majority of people down here are victims of a combination of willful ignorance, deliberate misinformation, and religious propaganda… and that shit is HARD to climb out from under when you’re being smothered with it. So comments like “well, it’s Mississippi, what do you expect,” (and far worse) aren’t doing anything to help the situation.
Rural people circle the wagons when they perceive a threat, so social media insults won’t ever make progress happen in a meaningful way down here.
And progress is what we ALL want.
So what can you do to help?
If you choose to engage with posts like these regarding red states, remember that people you know see your posts/comments, but more importantly, silent southerners are reading them too.
There’s a lot to be said for the instant gratification of a good zinger, but what’s more important is that quality conversation is left to stand witness for the low information voters to read later.
As my friend Talia Loos said, in her response to my posting about my frustrations with folks demonizing the political South:
The white nationalists, the Christian nationalists, the homophobes and transphobes, the capitalist apologists, and the fascists all WANT US to throw up our hands and consider certain areas throw-away and unredeemable.-Talia Loos
It makes their insidious work easier in those areas.
The genius of the campaign design pioneered by Howard Dean (and successfully utilized by Obama) is that it puts the reactionaries on the defensive and cedes nothing, calls no one disposable.
It puts into deed early and often the same message that’s spoken in the platforms. It’s a degree of consistency in thought and action, and it weakens a traditional attack.
It shows humility in acknowledging there are good people everywhere and, yes, terrible people where we live as well. “Traditionally blue” areas are not utopias and “traditionally red” areas are not wastelands.
They’re just places where what is “the work” looks very different.
There’s still truckloads of work that needs doing everywhere.
Remember, even with all the redlining, gerrymandering, and voter suppression shenanigans that goes on down here, look at the results objectively.
If you look at the voting maps from 2019 versus the last election, we had a hell of a blue wave, even after multiple targeted blows from Trump’s administration.
We made them fight for it.
It just wasn’t enough.
Please consider the poor, the disenfranchised, the helpless people who live in these states who are merely trying to survive, and don’t cast them off.
Don’t count us out.
I know the election results are disheartening for so many of the good people of Mississippi (and the people who love us) but look, they (the Republicans) had to claw for it this year. Take some time to grieve, and then put your workboots back on. We will drag this state out of 50th place and into the 21st century kicking and screaming if we have to.