By Erika Phelan –
If you told us before 2020 we would be sharing our story of moving our family of 6 from Northern California to Middle Tennessee, my husband and I would have had a very good laugh! And yet, here we are!
In October of 2021, my husband and I, together with our four children, packed up all of our worldly possessions and made that long journey across the country to our new home in Columbia, Tennessee.
I’m sure many of us would agree the last couple of years have revealed things about our government we never expected to see in our lifetime. In blue states where tyrants like Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, finally had their moment in the spotlight, it became even clearer that our country is more divided than ever.
Before 2020 the thought never crossed my mind who the Governor of Florida or South Dakota was because, as a busy mom of four, who has time for that?
However, as the pandemic ran its course, it became apparent to us, and to many of our friends and family, that it matters where you live. It matters because states are governed by people and those people are governed by their own ideologies. And as we have seen now more than ever, ideas have consequences.
After what we have seen and experienced, we know with absolute certainty, the differences in our blue and red states are a result of intensely different ideas. Millions of people have had to move their families across the country simply so they can breathe and work and send their kids to school. And yet, the residents of many red states have drastically different memories of the pandemic.
Our family had to move from the place our great grandparents planted us because of some very bad ideas touted by some very powerful people. Simply put, we chose Tennessee because we love the dominant ideas here.
If I sat down with an average blue voting Californian and made the statement “I like the ideas better in Tennessee” undoubtedly the “ideas” that would come to mind in our imaginary Californian’s head would be things like racism and the oppressive “patriarchy.” That is how disconnected with reality left wing progressive policy makers and their constituents have become.
What I actually mean when I say I love the ideas in Tennessee is very simple and it is rooted in a particular worldview… a worldview the left hates. Thomas Sowell said, “It remains an important and remarkable phenomenon that how human nature is conceived at the outset is highly correlated with the whole conception of knowledge, morality, power, time, rationality, war, freedom and law which defines a social vision.”
In California, the policy makers are funded by far left progressive elites. These elites carry with them, as we all do, a particular worldview that influences their beliefs on what is good for every realm of society, whether it be how to educate children or how to think about our right to free speech. And that worldview is being used to create a social vision that stands in direct opposition to everything my family holds dear.
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As fourth generation Californians, my husband and I were well aware of the left leaning influences that were so pervasive in places like Hollywood and Silicon Valley. We watched with sad hearts as cities we once loved to visit like Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Francisco became dirty and unsafe. And yet, we still resolved to remain committed to California.
We were content living in our conservative pocket of Placer County knowing that the rational majority of people did not agree with things like sexual reassignment surgery on ten year olds and infanticide, however as time went on, we realized the California government does not care about the rational majority because they believe the rational majority is very bad.
California, like many blue states, calls things our family believes are inherently wicked good and things we believe are inherently good wicked. Parental authority, in the eyes of progressive elites is wicked. Parental authority in the eyes of rational thinking people is good. Differences between the biological sexes, male and female, are totally denied in the progressive worldview and to acknowledge them is, in their eyes, wicked.
But with the rational majority, we see these differences as good, undeniable, and vital for a flourishing society. Progressive elites are no longer content calling abortion good. Now, with bill AB 2223 they call infanticide good. (For more on the bill go to liveaction.org.) They have sought to demonize adoption in the name of fighting against systemic racism, claiming that African American children in foster care would be better off remaining in abusive homes than being placed with white families. (For more on this, visit Naomi Schaefer Riley at naomiriley.com.) Rational thinking people call all adoption, despite the races of the child or the adoptive family, good.
Even with knowing all of this, we still had hope for California. Maybe enough people would fight against the insanity and things would turn around we often thought. We were so excited to see the passion in our County to recall Governor Newsom and were encouraged whenever there was a protest against vaccine and mask mandates.
We saw the disgust amongst our church going friends when our government told us we were no longer allowed to sing in church. It seemed to us the push against tyranny was strong and we felt confident freedom would win. But sadly, after only 38% voted to recall Newsom, it became clearer than ever before leftism had become so pervasive in California we would never win. Tyrants do what they want to do and they believe the end justifies the means, even if that means breaking the law and causing people to suffer.
After Governor Newsom was not recalled, my husband and I talked again and decided that even if tyrants were running the State and our vote would never really count, we still didn’t want to uproot our family. But all of that changed when the California Health Director, Tomas J. Aragon, and Governor Newsom chose to disregard the science of natural immunity and mandated the vaccine for all healthcare workers along with a promise to mandate it for all school aged children in the coming months.
I’ll never forget, while working in San Francisco, my husband was asked to show his vaccine card to enter a restaurant. He told the hostess that he is against segregation and wouldn’t be showing any papers but still needed to eat so that he could help patients at the hospital. He agreed to eat outside at a table they placed on the sidewalk. When he came home that evening, he told me he will never allow our children to live in a place where they are forced to eat on the sidewalk like second class citizens. That was the day he asked me to get into contact with a realtor in Tennessee. You can only push people so far until finally, they just say enough is enough.
Life in Tennessee is, in many ways, even better than we expected. We love the idea that family is important. It trickles down to the way children respectfully say, “Yes, Ma’am, Yes Sir.” We love the idea that patriotism is virtuous. It causes everyone to put their hand over their hearts at high school games when they sing the national anthem. We love the idea that God exists. It inspires people to treat each other with dignity from a very little thing like a wave, to a very big thing like a decision to defend the unborn.
The hard things about leaving friends and family are all very true, but, as we had to learn, each family must do what they believe is in their own best interests. While I hate that my children have had to say goodbye to friends and family, I am thankful for the unique point in history God has chosen to place them. Their generation will require a greater level of conviction and fortitude than mine. They will have to engage with politics in ways my generation did not. They will be forced to deal with what their children are learning in school because things like male and female and the American dream are being demonized in our educational system. And most importantly, they will have to know what they believe, why they believe it and have the ability to articulate their claims to people who absolutely despise them. Yes, theirs is a hard lot, but if courage begets courage then it will all be worth it in the end.
I don’t know what’s in store for our country or how we reunify after so much division on the fundamentals of every aspect of our society, but I do know one thing. Tennesseans will never vote to make my daughter join the draft or to take away our Second Amendment right to bear arms. Tennessee is where I want to be if our country faces another emergency. It’s where I want my children to meet future spouses and where I want my grand babies raised. Tennessee is proudly patriotic, unashamedly for the nuclear family and believers in a moral law and a moral law Giver to whom all of us, no matter where we live, will one day give an account. Tennessee is good for society and I thank God that over the last few years, she has shined in the midst of a hurting country as a beacon of hope, virtue and truth. May she continue to be what she has been for our family, a true refuge in the midst of the destructive ideas leftism used to destroy our home State. And most importantly, may she fight bad ideas with good.
As Helen Keller said, “Tyranny cannot defeat the power of ideas.”
About the Author: Erika Phelan – Erika is a wife and mom. She spends her days enjoying her family and spreading good ideas with friends who left blue states for red at www.redstateramblings.com.