I've lived in this state for nearly my entire life, and over the past 30 years witnessed it be transformed from a beautiful, carefree paradise, into a soulless, angry garbage dump full of despair. It is as if the people leading this state have spent the past three decades trying to discover the answer to the question, "Exactly how much will people put up with before they will ACTUALLY sell their house and move away?"
Until recently, I can't say my family and I had quite reached that point, although we were slowly getting there. Back in the '90s or early 2000s, most of the bad policies were simply political, in that they were there in a vague sense in the back of your mind, but they did not "touch" you that often in day-to-day life. Gradually, that changed as they ramped up the meddling to interfere with everyday things.
Now it was no longer just sighing once a year at your taxes, or at some news report about a wacky law somewhere. Now they were doing little things to make you pissed off when you go to the grocery store. Pissed off when you go to the gas station. Pissed off when you go to a restaurant. Pissed off when you go to the park. Pissed off when you try to buy a lawnmower. Pissed off when you take out the garbage. Always go pay this little fee; go stand in this line; go fill out this form; sorry, you can't get quite what you wanted, here's the California version instead. Oh, we added this new tax for this one specific purpose, but actually we're not going to use it for that at all; we're going to ignore that and divert the money immediately, and not even pretend we're accountable for it.
More of those little nuisances were piling up daily, and it wears on you, but now - HOLY SHIT. All of a sudden it goes from "We're banning straws" to "We're shutting off your electricity," or "We're placing you all under house arrest," and people just nod and say whatever, it's fine. And here's the one that really blown my mind - they barely even flinch when the government says, "We're entirely likely to do it again."
Wait - WHAT? How did any of this get to the point where people are not only accepting it but embracing it? How could you possibly have any reaction to it except "What the hell - even if there's an emergency, this is BULLSHIT."
As one who considers himself a libertarian (the idea, not the party), I have long known that I am in exactly the wrong place for that, but mainly in a dull, nagging sense. Watching this unfold, and seeing the reactions of those around me, has really opened my eyes to the fact that things have crossed the line from a mere nuisance - much more, and it will be downright dangerous, and the talk of "dystopia" will be more than just an exaggeration or a tinfoil-hat idea.
Of course we all have our fantasies of moving to a ranch in Montana where nobody will fuck with you (or at least bailing out to a place where people are halfway sane). I have never actually looked into it seriously, always stopping at, "Wait, would you really actually MOVE because of politics?" Well, now it feels like it would be foolish NOT to. This is not just some far-off theoretical debate about government anymore; it is in front of your house banging on your door. Or more like inside your house after already kicking down your door.
Last thing to get off my chest with this rant - you often hear people say, "Stay in California, don't bring your shitty politics here," or to take a different tack, "Don't run away from your problems, stay and fix it." But I firmly believe the game is rigged here - state government is run like a mafia. You might as well go take on Boss Tweed, or the Chicago Machine. I've never voted for any of this shit or believed in any of it, and I can't help but think a lot of other people fleeing this place are in a similar boat.
Maybe I'd get some dirty looks if I showed up in Texas until I changed my license plates, but what does that matter. Right now I'd get worse than that for admitting I support Trump (or saying anything other than I flat-out hate him), and if I say I own a gun, people look at me like I just told them I have two dicks. So really, who even cares about that.
I don't know if this even has a point or come off the right way, but as someone who has lurked here since about 2017, and given everything that is going on, I just felt the need to say that I am glad this place exists as a reminder that there are people in the world, and even a few in my state, who have not lost their minds.
edit: also, wow, I really did not expect such a response, but thank you all for your enthusiasm - it is a great feeling to know you are not alone!