Tennessee: The America We Need

Image Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM / CC

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.

17 thoughts on “Tennessee: The America We Need

  • May 17, 2022 at 6:52 pm
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    Erika, I loved your editorial. Maybe you should sent a copy of it to your friends and relatives in California. If they could only see how different life is in Tennessee they might want to move here too. I live in Monroe County, Tennessee and we see new people moving here all the time. I just hope they leave their liberal ideas back where they came from. I’m sure you’ve seen the bumper sticker “Don’t California my Tennessee,” and I pray they will adopt our way of living. Thank you for your well written piece.

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    • May 17, 2022 at 7:33 pm
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      Thank you so much for your feedback and encouragement Janie! We are especially thankful for such hospitable Tennesseans like yourself who are welcoming to us Californians! I pray, like you, that the people relocating here will vote for good policy. Thank you again for your kind words!

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  • May 17, 2022 at 7:32 pm
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    Please remember-“Do Not California My Tennessee”, in your message.

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  • May 17, 2022 at 9:32 pm
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    Your words ring true for our family too! At 61 years old, I lived 17 miles from my birthplace on the Oregon Coast when we moved to Tennessee last June. Never thought I’d leave Oregon, but it’s been taken over by leftist ideals that we could no longer abide. We found the freedom and lifestyle in East Tennessee we once enjoyed in Oregon! It’s so good to live in America again.

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    • May 17, 2022 at 11:07 pm
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      Welcome to Tennessee Diane. It must have been extremely hard to have lived your whole life in one place and at 60 years old, move to somewhere unfamiliar. We are mostly good folk here and we are also very patriotic while looking out for those who want to infiltrate and slowly destroy us. Help us be on the lookout, will you?

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    • May 17, 2022 at 11:08 pm
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      Welcome to Tennessee Diane. It must have been extremely hard to have lived your whole life in one place and at 60 years old, move to somewhere unfamiliar. We are mostly good folk here and we are also very patriotic while looking out for those who want to infiltrate and slowly destroy us. Help us be on the lookout, will you?

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    • May 17, 2022 at 11:28 pm
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      I’m so sorry you had to uproot and move Diane but I’m thankful you found the freedom you were looking for here in TN. This is truly a remarkable place and I pray we can keep it that way for a very, very long time! Thank you so much for your feedback and for sharing your story!

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  • May 18, 2022 at 5:05 pm
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    Welcome, welcome! This is a remarkable place to live, isn’t it? We moved here almost 9 years ago and can’t imagine ever going back north. If you haven’t already, you must attend a concert at Rory Feek’s The Homestead in Columbia. If you are not familiar with his story, you can find him at roryfeek.com. His sister Marcy Jo has two restaurants and a bakery. We went to his concert over Mother’s day and went to the Muletown restaurant location. Can’t recommend it enough!

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    • May 19, 2022 at 10:58 pm
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      Thank you so much Kim for your kind, welcoming words and for the recommendations!

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  • May 18, 2022 at 7:05 pm
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    My biggest concern is that people who move here will slowly turn it into a miniature version of California(or New York, or Illinois, etc). Remember, California didn’t California itself overnight – there were years of “Well, this one politician isn’t so bad, and he’s nicer than those mean old conservatives.” I’m not saying that there aren’t mean or nasty conservatives, but I truly am wary of gradual shifts. After all, California was the state that gave us Reagan and Pete Wilson; I doubt that’d be thinkable, let alone possible, today.

    In other words, I really want to believe that folks moving here will accept the state and not try to turn it into something else, but we’ve seen that happen. I would hope people will leave their voting habits behind them when they arrive.

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    • May 18, 2022 at 8:40 pm
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      *******
      In other words, I really want to believe that folks moving here will accept the state and not try to turn it into something else, but we’ve seen that happen. I would hope people will leave their voting habits behind them when they arrive.
      *******
      This is a problem in the Huntsville AL metro area, which is turning bluer by the day.

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    • May 19, 2022 at 11:13 pm
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      Thank you for your honest comments Russell. I can understand the concern you have about people from other states bringing a gradual shift toward bad policy. However, I know for our family and for many of our friends and extended family, some of whom have moved and some of whom are staying in CA, watching what has happened to the State they once loved has filled them with a fight to more adamantly defend the freedoms our forefathers bled and died for us to have. Many people before 2020 didn’t consider themselves to be very political, but after watching the devastation caused by left wing politicians eyes have been opened and people are angry. Our family has always voted for conservative policies but after the pandemic we are more convinced than ever before that not only do we disagree with leftism, we believe it is our duty to be vocal about how dangerous it truly is. I know our family will do everything we can to keep your beautiful State free from the tyranny we escaped.

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  • May 18, 2022 at 8:38 pm
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    Ah, another political refugee!
    I grew up in Silicon Valley, back when there were still spaces between the cities.
    Around the late 1990s, I started pondering an exit (mainly in search of elbow room at the time) to the Pacific Northwest, but changed circumstances prevented that.
    By 2012, I was once again pondering my escape, and PNW was not looking so promising anymore. After much on-line research, Tennessee was looking good.
    It took until 2019, with multiple scouting trips, to get everything organized, buy a new home (with land!) in the Knoxville area, pack up things to be shipped, pack up people and cats, and – just before the end of the year – make the move. Just a couple of months after that, things got all 2020, and now I’m really glad I’m not in California anymore. Living in a place where the politicians don’t hate me: what a concept!
    Mind you, I still don’t understand how the local government works, but it does seem to work much better than what we had back in California. I guess eventually I’ll learn what all the elected officials do.

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  • May 21, 2022 at 2:35 pm
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    I moved to Tennessee a decade ago. I grew up in Virginia, but had spent a large number of years in Texas pursuing a career. I ended up moving to a very rural area on the edge of the Nashville real estate market (I was newly employed in Nashville). I love it here. I have had a number of talks with locals and expressed my philosophy of adapting myself to Tennessee, rather than the opposite. Most of the folks told me I have done a great job of integrating myself with the community. The younger folks treat us with respect and have even opened doors for me, even though I am a relatively fit senior male.

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    • May 21, 2022 at 10:51 pm
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      I love your idea of adapting ourselves to Tennessee, NOT the other way around! 👏🏼

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  • May 31, 2022 at 7:18 am
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    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you…..

    …for leaving. Good riddance.

    – California

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  • July 5, 2022 at 8:04 pm
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    Erika,
    My wife and I have been retired for six years and living in NorCal to be close to family and friends; especially my 101-year-old mother who is in a care facility in Auburn, CA. I won’t abandon her or my sister who is also helping to support our mother. But as soon as mom passes away, we could leave California.
    Recently our son suggested we pool our resources (our cash from our hopefully soon house sale and his borrowing power) and purchase some property to live in separate homes. It is appealing to be very near our grandkids and in 20 years or so, they all help take care of us when we become unable to do so. HOWEVER, we are rapidly running out of our savings.
    HOWEVER, it has become increasingly evident we must get away to somewhere cheaper and politically, more conservative. In fact, my wife just got back from a neighborhood market and announced her anger at the price of several frozen chicken breasts. She wants to leave ASAP.
    Her brother and wife (also retired) just moved last week to western Kentucky to be near friends and out of California. We all have been lifelong Californians, loving the diverse and beautiful geography, and determined to stay and fight against the oppressive liberal politics (especially evident in the COVID-19 mandates) and the resulting economy. But we see staying may not be possible, let alone desirable.
    Our house is on the market and we’ll have to make a decision when a deal is secured, and it may be we will need to find some temporary place to stay here in NorCal and buy a new-to-us home in some other state in anticipation of moving to it in the near future.
    And for anyone concerned, we will remain RED and not attempt to California-ize another state or community, intending to become responsible members of society wherever we land to live out our golden years.

    Reply

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