what would it be like to live in a blue state?
As I noted recently, my husband and I are considering a move for our household. While it is difficult for me to contemplate moving away from Northeast Ohio, because of our family ties here, and because of my love for my alma mater and my belief that this region is on its way to becoming a powerhouse... there are things that I do find appealing about moving to a historically blue state.
It would be easier to stay in Ohio if the kind of options available to new parents were more progressive, more like what is available to Californians -- six weeks of paid parental leave (at 55% of pay, up to $728 per week). In fact, one LA pregnancy website clarifies that some mothers can take up to 7 months of leave.
Of course, we could also consider moving out of the US entirely, and in terms of maternity leave, we'd be better off almost anywhere else we went -- as long as we don't move to Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, or Swaziland (the other three countries which don't provide paid maternity leave as a matter of course, as I have written about before).
Granted, if we decide to have another baby, my husband and I can afford to downshift our consumerism slightly and self-fund an extended paternity leave for one or both of us (sequentially). But we would still be in the minority. Why should only the upper class workers be able to afford time off from employment in order to invest in the next generation? If we lived in a blue state, choosing to take time to care for an infant would seem less out of place. It could be a choice endorsed as worthy by our state legislature, and by our fellow voters. We would not have to invoke my class privilege in order to make such a choice -- we would just be normal human beings.
Similarly, it would be easier to stay in Ohio if I was convinced that Ohio might follow in the footsteps of Massachusetts and Oregon, for instance, by implementing universal healthcare at the state level.
In general, it would be easier to stay in Ohio if it were in the forefront of the progressive movement for limits on mandatory overtime, minimum requirements for employers to provide paid sick days, and state incentives for parents to get active in their public schools.
Hm... I hope Ted Strickland can take some quick action when he takes office in Columbus, but I fear that with a state legislature still dominated by Republicans, it'll be a long time from now before Ohio will have the same kinds of legal protections for workers with families that are already available in some of the bluer states.