The United States has never been as politically polarised as it is today. On nearly every issue facing the country, the gulf between the conservatives and liberals has widened so much that it’s fit to say there exists two Americas.
The Democrats have been drifting further away from the center to the left of the political spectrum with calls for a bigger government and higher social spending. Meanwhile, the Republicans have been moving in the opposite direction.
Many supporters of the GOP, especially in the middle class, have slid further to the right, with a lot of them voicing fears that immigrants and big government would imperil their cherished way of life.
Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center between 2015 and 2017 reveal how much the political cleavages within the country has widened.
While 71 per cent of Democrats agree that the government should do more to help poor people, only 24 per cent of Republicans feel the same. That’s a 47 percentage-point gap! Likewise, 78 per cent of Democratic voters think immigrants strengthen the country while only 35 per cent of their Republican counterparts agree.
Supporters of the two parties also diverge on a range of other topics like same-sex marriage, reproductive rights and treatment of illegal immigrants.
However, what’s important is that the gap between the two has grown remarkably over the last two decades. Today, there’s an average 36 percentage-point gap between the Republicans and Democrats on key issues -- it was only 15 per cent in 1994.
Immigration would only exacerbate these divisions. According to the United Nations, roughly one million people would migrate to the US each year, for the next 40 years, mostly from Asia.
No doubt, this will radically reshape America’s demographic profile, and by extension, its cultural and political landscape. By 2050, white Americans will account for much less than 50 per cent of the US population, as per the current estimates.
In fact, changes are already visible in many American cities and towns. Hazleton is an example. The quiet, sleepy town in eastern Pennsylvania, which was once majority-white, has by today become “too brown” in the words of some of its white-residents.
Demographics aside, liberal states’ comparatively higher tax rates are bothering many conservatives (also, some liberals). Higher taxes often imply higher social welfare spending, which is an anathema to those who believe in limited government and personal responsibility.
Economists warn that over 800,000 people would flee New York and California -- two liberal states -- in the next three years, due to higher taxes.
In fact, internal migration for political reasons is already happening. As demographic changes and political divisions become more pronounced than ever, an increasing number of conservatives find that the states where they grew up no longer represent them. For many, the solution is exodus -- to the states that match their political orientation.
Over the past few years, thousands of Americans have moved out of liberal states like California, New York and New Jersey to Republican-controlled states like Texas, Arizona, Idaho and Tennessee.
Sensing opportunity, numerous real-estate firms have cropped up to assist the runaway conservatives find jobs and housing in the new state.
The tallest among them is Texas-based Conservative Move, run by Dr. Paul Chabot, a US military veteran and a former Republican Congressional candidate.
“Helping families move from liberal states to Conservative states like Texas, Idaho, etc. Better jobs, low crime, great schools, freedom, low taxes and more. We are experts in real estate,” reads a description of the firm on its website.
Along with his wife Brenda Anderson and their four children, Chabot himself moved from California to Texas last year, fed up with the Golden State's “high taxes and regulation”.
In the Lone Star State, he hoped to find a better life. And he is not disappointed.
“We love Texas and we wish we moved sooner,” Chabot tells Issac James Manayath of the New Indian Express via email.
Chabot is a former White House senior policy advisor on law enforcement and a Commander of the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy Reserve. He is an Iraq-war veteran and has served in the US special operations forces.
In 2014, he ran for the US Congress from California’s 31st Congressional district, but lost the election to Democrat Pete Aguillar by a narrow margin in a tightly-fought race.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
Q. When and how did it all start? Is there a particular incident or a story that inspired you to set up your business?
Chabot: My wife and I are very conservative. By that, I mean we believe in limited government, personal responsibility, and freedom. My wife and I were born and raised in California and have four children raised there too. California was once a great American state. But today, it has become a disaster for the middle-class families. Crime rate is high, drug use is pervasive, schools are near the bottom, compared to most other states.
And there are so many illegal aliens there that hospitals, freeways and schools are too crowded and affordable housing is hard to find. We simply had enough and moved to Texas - a great state that is the polar opposite of California.
When we moved to Texas in 2017, we realized that so many families had done so long before we moved and that gave us the idea to create a business helping families move from liberal states like California and New York, to conservative states like Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Florida, Tennessee, etc.
Q. How many clients have you served so far? What all services do you provide? And how big is the demand?
Chabot: We cannot keep up with demand. Thousands of families are working with us all over the country. We help them sell their existing homes (unless they rent), and buy a new home in a conservative state. We also help them find jobs and secure a home loan for those who are qualified.
Q. You yourself moved from California to Texas. How does it feel now? How has it changed your life? Did you get what you were looking for? What about your family? Are they happy as well?
Chabot: We love Texas and we wish we moved sooner. We will never go back. Living in California is like being in a bad relationship - and once you are out of a bad relationship, you look back and realize how abusive it was. California abuses its middle class with high taxes and regulations. We are so thankful to be out.
The schools here are amazing - over 98% graduation rate. Affordable housing and great paying jobs are everywhere. Our kids, aged 11, 9, 7 and 4, are thriving in Texas beyond our wildest dreams. They are now far ahead of those in California in the same grade.
Q. I would love to know a bit about your clients. Where do they come from? Are they from a particular region? I've read about conservatives in California wanting to move to Texas. Are there other states like California from where conservatives are desperate to move out?
Chabot: Almost 90% of our clients to come from California and the remainder come from other liberal states like New York, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. We are moving them to Texas, Idaho, Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Utah, South Carolina and other conservative states.
Q. What do they complain the most about life in a liberal turf? Do they feel threatened? What do they say about the future of America?
Chabot: They feel like the states they are leaving no longer represent them. They worry about outrageously high gas and housing prices while getting very little for the high taxes they pay. These liberal states often legalize drugs and ignore crime. San Francisco is an example of a once great city that now looks like a third world country with homeless tent cities, drug needles and human poop all over the streets. Liberals destroy communities and conservatives have had enough. They see the future of America in conservative states like Texas where they feel safe again.
Q. Are they happy once they make the move? Do you get to hear from them? What do they say?
Chabot: Those who moved feel just like we did. They love their new state and like us, wish they moved sooner. Many can now raise their families on a single income allowing the mother to stay at home and raise the children. In liberal states, it takes two parents working to afford a living, and that is bad for children who lack proper care and upbringing.
Q. What do you think is the future of conservatism in America? How concerned are you? Is migration a problem?
Chabot: Conservatives love America and our laws. We do not like seeing foreigners or non-citizens break our laws. We do love legal immigration. We love to see immigrants learn our language, our history and become a part of this great country. Most legal immigrants are conservatives and they do not like those who sneak into our country and take advantage of our people and our way of life. In short - come to America the right way and integrate into society and become one of us - we are all Americans first, regardless of race or religion. The America that I love represents those values - and those values are found in conservative states.
Q. You wrote California has taken in a lot of refugees, and today, cities like San Francisco look like a third world country. But, Pew Research data shows Texas accepted roughly the same number of refugees in 2016 as California. In fact, Texas is the leading conservative state in terms of refugee acceptance. Also, the Lone Star State is home to one of America’s largest illegal immigrant population. In light of all these, how have Texas cities managed not to become like San Francisco? Do you think refugee inflow would eventually change the character of the state?
Chabot: Not refugees, but illegal immigrants. Those who broke our laws and come to America illegally - like walking across our Border. Huge difference between illegal immigrants and refugees. Texas
does have a lot of illegal immigrants and this is because of the shared border with Mexico. However, Texas is not a sanctuary state, unlike California.
Q. A related question -- Do you fear Texas will change one day and become more liberal? Texas was once a blue state. Even today, Democrats hope one day Texas would turn blue again. Is there a chance?
Chabot: Texas was once a blue state, but when it was blue, the Democrats acted more like moderate Republicans. They were more like the JFK-era Democrats. Today's Democratic party is hijacked by radicals who believe in open borders, free college for all, the legalization of drugs, etc. The Democrats in America today are more radical than ever - violent - and frankly, un-American.
Q. Many of the asylum seekers who come to the US border are fleeing violence in their home countries. Do you feel the US has a responsibility to protect them, at least those from the neighbouring countries?
Chabot: I believe the United States should encourage those seeking asylum to work together to overthrow their governments to improve living conditions in those countries. That is exactly what the Americans did in 1776. And parts of the United States are no safer than many areas these people are leaving. Look at cities like Chicago or San Francisco.
Q. Are internal divisions damaging America’s standing in the world? There was a time when we used to look up to the United States and say, ‘hey, that’s a shining city upon a hill’ borrowing former President Ronald Reagan’s words. But, today not many would agree with this statement. Do you feel America’s standing in the world has taken a hit? In your observation, how worried are average Americans, or let’s say an average Texan, about how the rest of the world perceives their country?
Chabot: Democrats have greatly harmed American and destroyed many of its beautiful cities. San Francisco is an example. We have an internal struggle between those who love our Constitution, and those who do not. Texas is America - California is not. I would encourage those around the world to know that the conservatives will rebuild all that Obama destroyed.
Q. Many in the US and outside say America is on a decline? Do you agree with this statement? If so, what does it take to make America great again?
Chabot: I agree that parts of American are in decline - but those parts are liberal big cities. The heart of America now rests with the middle-class Americans and the small-business owners. American has and always will be one big experiment based on democracy. Unfortunately, radicals on the left have taken advantage of our country for selfish gains. The Democrats of today would never elect John F Kennedy to White House, as they did back in 60s. JFK, in his Presidential Inauguration speech, said, "Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for the Country."
Q. Finally, would you like to run for president, maybe few years down the road?
Chabot: I have no intention of running for president - but thanks for asking.
(Paul Chabot and family live in McKinney Texas, where his business is based.)