Photo by Luke Michael on Unsplash

Progressive Millennials in Urban America: Are We Ducking Our Civic Duty?

I’m a Progressive. I’m a Millennial. I’ve moved further from so-called red America over the last 10 years.

I was in Washington, DC for one year.
Chicago for six year.
Now coming up on three years in New York.

It’s a few days after the 2018 midterm elections and I’m thinking a lot about America’s future and my role in it.

I was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas. A state that’s often conservative Republican, in the most conservative and Republican of ways. Every now and then, my home state comes to its senses and elects either “moderate” Republicans or even ventures to elect Democrats.

I could never move back there is a phrase that’s come to my mind and come out of my mouth more times than I care to admit.

After having lived in progressive cities the last decade, it seems odd to even want to move to a deep-red state. The prospect of moving to red American sounds even more daunting and tiresome, being a gay man.

At the same time, there’s another part of me feeling like I’m shirking my civic duty. That I’m missing an opportunity to work for candidates and for policies that are near and dear to my heart.

Even if the candidates I worked for lost more than they won. And even if the ideas I fight for fall short in this election cycle.

In some ways I feel like a coward, living in such a deep-blue state.

I do feel safer. I feel more at peace knowing that I’m surrounded by millions of people who think the way that I do.

At the same time, I don’t feel all that courageous or bold. I don’t feel like I’m making all that much difference. Sitting from my safe perch, in the heart of liberal America is pretty easy to do.

I can roll my eyes at the ruby red Republican states, who are making decision after decisions that causes my jaw to drop. All the while, I know there are other queer people in those states, knocking on doors and volunteering for candidates, even when the odds are stacked against them.

With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, this nudge to do more in the place where it makes the most difference is becoming more noticeable.

I’m single, young, and have the ability to move wherever I choose. Am I doing a disservice to the progressive ideals that I supposedly believe in, by barricading myself in a deep blue state?

While others do the heavy lifting in swing states across the country, I am able to relax in a deep blue state, shaking my head at “what’s wrong with America”. But if I’m not part of the solution, am I somewhat part of the problem?

It’s tough to say what my next move will be. But I know I need to do more. To be engaged in the places that may feel tough to be engaged in. I wanto make a bigger difference than I’ve made in the past.