Liberals Must Not Write off Red States

Rose Aguilar is a San Francisco-based journalist who decided to leave the safety of the liberal bubble to travel to states that voted overwhelmingly for President Bush in 2004. Her mission is to look beyond what divides us to discover what binds us together as progressives, no matter what state we live in.

Aguilar has been in Texas recently, where she has interviewed Democrats and Republicans about their political views. She posts these interviews to her website, Stories in America. These conversations make for fascinating reading – taken together, they offer a direct feed into a critical piece of the body politic in mid-2005.

There are many encouraging signs, the progressive cause is strong and vibrant behind the Red Curtain. From Republicans, what is most shocking is how they spout the party line without apparently having given what they are saying the slightest bit of analysis.

And then there are dismaying moments, like this from a liberal Texan:

I would rather have a gay person get married to their significant other than to go out and be a pedophile or a stalker. If you love somebody, you love somebody. I don’t have a problem with that.

Yikes! So gay and lesbian folks can only choose between finding a significant other and settling down OR pedophilia and/or stalking?

Nonetheless, I would encourage anyone who is interested in poltiical strategy to visit Stories in America regularly.

Update: Rose Aguilar has a column up today on AlterNet – The Loneliness of a Lonestar Liberal. The article opens with this statement, which sums up the conundrum that faces progressives in Red states like Texas:

It’s not easy being a progressive activist in Texas. Not only are the state’s progressives up against a conservative majority and completely ignored by national politicians, they’re also stuck with the media’s label of “red state voters” who have completely different values from “blue state voters…”

The repetitive use of the term “red state voter” makes it easy for the country at large, including progressives living in Democratic cities, to lose sight of the fact that Texas is a diverse state full of activists.


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