America is at a watershed moment. Even as business as usual continues on Capitol Hill, people across the country are voting with their feet. Failed Democratic policies and woke leadership in blue state capitals around the nation are bankrupting states, killing jobs, and alienating the average American voter. It should come as no surprise that people are fleeing these progressive states for greener, freer pastures like Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and many others.
These red state leaders and their policies stand in stark contrast to the rudderless states that many are leaving behind. Just look at what GOP governors have accomplished in recent months despite the gridlock in Washington.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed into law groundbreaking educational freedom for every Iowa student. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who is also working with his legislature towards a robust expansion of school choice, is standing up to woke companies that are more interested in implementing ESG policies than following a fiduciary standard for their shareholders.
In the south, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed into law the “most substantial overhaul” of the education system in the history of her state. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp also passed a series of reforms aimed at giving parents more influence over their students’ instruction and classroom policies, including limiting schools’ authority to enforce mask mandates. Tennessee, which is already the third-lowest taxed state in the country, saw Governor Bill Lee implement the single biggest tax cut in the Volunteer State’s history and expand its existing education savings account program to thousands more students.
These sorts of policies are also responsible for catapulting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis from his narrow margin of victory in 2018 to a landslide victory for his second term last November. His tailwinds meant massive victories down-ballot as well, demonstrating that reforms like expanding educational options, reducing taxes, eliminating government barriers for people to work and earn a living, and keeping economies open for business are not only politically popular – they’re political winners.
In contrast, Democratic governors are losing, in big ways. Thousands of people are flooding into these GOP-led, low-tax, de-woked states every day from liberal outposts like California and New York, with no indication that trend will slow down anytime soon.
The Golden State is experiencing record outward migration, with people growing increasingly tired of high taxes, high crime, and a nanny state that is more interested in stripping away freedoms, pushing mask mandates, shutting down small businesses, siding with union bosses to keep schools closed, paying for minors’ gender transitions, and overstepping on parental oversight of a child’s quality of life.
Unsurprisingly, the job approval ratings for GOP governors, who offer a wholly different approach to policymaking, are steadily positive – contrasting sharply with many of their Democratic counterparts. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has a growing percentage of constituents “strongly approving” of her work. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s support remains high, with a survey of recent voters finding that education, jobs, and the economy are top concerns. Governor Brian Kemp’s approval ratings have reached a record high among Georgia voters.
Yet, as if the demand for U-Hauls isn’t a clear enough indication of what people think about their Democratic governors’ leadership, poll numbers are speaking loudly as well.
An overwhelming majority of Californians recently suggested they’re against a potential presidential run for Governor Gavin Newsom in 2024. Meanwhile, New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s constituent support continues to wane, with voters citing disappointment with her failure to address rising crime rates and costs of living.
Indeed, voters aren’t the only ones growing increasingly restless under Democratic control. GOP governors like Reynolds, Stitt, Kemp, Sanders, and others have put wind into the sails of GOP-controlled legislatures operating under Democratic governors. During the 2023 legislative session alone, Republican lawmakers in Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky have voted to override vetoes from their Democratic governors – passing laws that these GOP governors have led on elsewhere, including expanding educational choice, prohibiting gender reassignments for minors, and holding government unions accountable.
As this cohort of GOP governors continue to pass tax cuts, expand school choice, protect parental rights, and support policies that promote a thriving economy, they will also continue to increase their state’s population and their political popularity. The founders envisioned this very dynamic when they designed our federalist model, which allows certain states to become harbors of liberty even as others may fail, and in-so-doing keep liberty alive for the next generation.
Tori Sachs is executive director for And to the Republic, a 501(c)(4) organization that promotes common-sense, freedom-oriented, conservative policy successes while examining failures of over-government regulation.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.