Please Help Me Write My Book on Blue/Red Migration—‘The Southbound Train’

By Roger L. Simon
Roger L. Simon
Roger L. Simon
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (nonfiction). He can be found on GETTR and TRUTH Social @rogerlsimon.
January 24, 2022Updated: January 26, 2022


I have committed to writing a book for the good people at Encounter Books (Roger Kimball & co.) on the you-could-almost-say-massive migration (some call it in-migration) to red states from blue that has been occurring the past few years—who’s making it, why they’re doing it, and what it means now and to the future of our country.

The working title is “The Southbound Train,” which comes from the lyrics to Darius Rucker’s country hit “Wagon Wheel”: “Yeah, rock me mama like the wind and the rain/Rock me mama like a southbound train.”

Actually, those words didn’t originate with Rucker but came from an unfinished song that Bob Dylan wrote nearly 50 years ago (1973). Nevertheless, Rucker’s version is the one most people know and for good reason—it’s great.

It should be no secret part of the reason I want to write this is that it’s also my story. At the end of May 2018, my family and I left Los Angeles, where we had lived most or all of our lives—I for roughly those same 50 years—for a new home in Tennessee.

That’s why, though I will try to fight against it, I am biased. I want to justify what I have done, to myself and to others.

I have noticed in the comments here and elsewhere that a number of longtime red-state residents are angry at, fearful of, or both, of us blue-state interlopers.

They assume we are coming to red states merely for economic advantage and are bringing our blue-state values with us. We are either overt or closeted liberals or progressives bent on turning our new home into our old home, even if that old home is more than ever an unholy disastrous mess.

Some may be like that, but a recent report, cited by my friend John Hinderaker of Powerline, has solid data strongly suggesting the opposite, at least for Florida. Apparently, since March 31, 2020, Republican registrations have increased a “jaw-dropping” 274,503 while Democrats have declined by 51,995, with 66 of 67 counties redder.

Traditionally purple Florida has turned fully red for the first time ever; call it the DeSantis Effect. Democrats can’t suddenly have started to hate the beach.

Other red states aren’t quite as dramatic because they don’t have governors quite as courageous as Florida’s, which leads me to another observation that has prompted me to write this book.

In many instances, the newcomers are more activist-inclined, more concerned about the imminent danger to the future of our country, and more impatient to do something about it, than many of the current residents and politicians. (In that sense, they really are displaced New Yorkers, as in “let’s get back to a constitutional republic in a New York minute.”)

It took me a while to realize it, but in a lot of ways, the old Democratic and Republican establishments in the South are remarkably similar. There are exceptions, of course, important ones, but, in Mencken’s words, it’s largely “about the money”—in the case of Nashville, where I live, the hospital and music industries with tech giants (Amazon and Oracle) moving in, with all that entails.

Standing against that onslaught in Tennessee and other red states are those newcomers looking for an America that’s more like the founding in which to raise their children. (The fight against critical race theory and other manifestations of the “woke” classroom are frequently fueled by blue state arrivals irate at the presence in their new home of the very things they were fleeing.)

It’s a surprising conflict, but not necessarily cause for pessimism. Infusions of new blood can help states (and those state’s political parties and activist groups) as they often do businesses and countries.

But the new blood shouldn’t become overly impressed with their own importance and forget some people have been wrestling for years with the same problems that the newcomers have just discovered. That would be as counterproductive as it would be unfair.

In all, it’s complicated—as it frequently is in life. But it’s a conundrum worth solving because the battle for this country is being fought in the red states. The blue states are largely lost, probably for a long time. In fact, the best, and possibly the only, way to save the blue states may be definitively to save the red states first and make them the model.

That will be, more or less, the underlying theme of my book—at least so far. But writing a book is always a journey fraught with surprises for author and reader.

So how can you help me?

You can send me your stories of in-migration and thereby help keep me honest. Also, I can’t possibly go everywhere and see everyone to research this book.

I will be writing principally about what I know best—Florida, Texas, and Tennessee (hence “The Southbound Train”)—but all blue-to-red state migrants North, South, and West are encouraged to contribute, as well as internal migrants to red from blue counties within states. The book will benefit from as many perspectives as possible.

I have set up an email address——for you to send those stories (or hurl brickbats, if you’re so inclined). I can’t guarantee your tale will appear in the book—that’s the nature of the beast—but I will respond. For those that I do use in the book, you can be identified or anonymous, as you wish. Most likely too, you will be paraphrased, but if I quote you verbatim, I will certainly ask your permission.

If you don’t want to bother with thesouthboundtrain@protonmail (just taking the opportunity to repeat the address) feel free to use the comments or to pass this article on to folks you know who have undergone this experience.

And in case you’re worried (you’re probably not), I will be continuing my frequent columns here, commenting on the affairs of the day, while writing the book. Sleep, they tell me, is overrated.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.