More on Moving for Politics

Earlier we heard from TPM Reader JM who moved with his wife from Florida to Oregon to find a politics and culture more to their liking. Now we hear from TPM Reader JR with his story, but there’s a twist, which I get to below …

My wife and I have been contemplating a move for reasons opposite of what you describe.

We live and work in New York. We’re both Democrats and our votes are pretty irrelevant, even in primaries. However, the house we bought years ago as a retirement home is in New Hampshire. There our votes – and activism – would likely make much more of a difference. And that’s true even in a non-Presidential year.

You’ve worked the NH primary. Can’t you imagine what fun we’ll have in 2016?

On its face, these sound like somewhat similar stories. And yet, as JR notes, they’re deeply dissimilar. JM basically moved because the culture and political decision making where he lived in Florida didn’t fit with his values, preferred approach to living, etc. This I suspect is a fairly common thing in America today.

JR on the other hand actually seems to fit like a glove in New York. But he’s reacting to another aspect of the Blue State/Red State divide in America: his votes certainly and his activism to a lesser extent are irrelevant. Obviously JR and his wife like New Hampshire too or they wouldn’t have bought a retirement home there. But it’s a very significant difference.

JM is what the sociologists are referring to as ‘self-sorters’. He’s using America’s high degree of potential geographical mobility to find a community that runs in line with his values, politics, culture etc. I’d call JR a bit more like a ‘pioneer’, going somewhere where his votes and activism are more relevant and meaningful precisely because it’s not a monoculture where they fit right in.