I was very excited to move to Philadelphia in 2018. I went to school at Penn State, where I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Many of my friends from college lived in the area, so Pennsylvania always felt like a home away from home.
When the first wave of the pandemic hit the city in 2020, like many others, I followed the advice of the local government, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other federal guidelines. I masked up, stayed indoors, and closely monitored my interaction with others.
Also like millions of other Americans, I didn’t understand the entirety of the virus, but I trusted the individuals in power—both elected and non-elected—and I could understand the rationale to close restaurants, stores, and many other places where high volume human contact could occur… at first.
Initially, I saw that Philadelphian entrepreneurship was alive and well. Business owners were finding new ways to support their employees and their livelihoods and to keep the local economy running. Outdoor dining, grab-and-go meals, and pop-up outdoor shopping centers were creative ways to keep these small businesses alive. However, as the restrictions grew and government implemented more mandates on local businesses, I saw many shops close for good. Unfortunately, this wasn’t unique to Philadelphia; businesses were closing their doors in every state across the country… or so I thought.
During this time, an opportunity came my way that I couldn’t refuse. I had a chance to work at State Policy Network (SPN), a nonprofit organization that believes local problems are best solved by local leaders who know and understand the challenges their communities face.
As part of my new role at SPN, I was able to meet with our supporters and partners all over the country, including Texas. During my first trip to the Lone Star State, I attended a Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) Liberty Leadership Council dinner in Fort Worth. TPPF’s Liberty Leadership Council fosters meaningful relationships among young professionals who share the values of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise. It was amazing to meet with young professionals who care deeply about their state and local community.
When I visited Texas a second time, I spent more time in other cities. I visited San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas. Unlike Philadelphia, I noticed more businesses were open and the economy was thriving. People were free to shop as they pleased, and no one bothered those who chose to wear a mask—or those who didn’t. Individuals had the freedom to choose how they wanted to live their lives. I was in a different state, but coming from the East Coast, it felt like a different world.
Those state differences are what make this country so exceptional. America is built on the principles of federalism, a system where power is shared between the national and state governments, and each has their own powers and sovereignty. Our founders knew that the best way to govern is through local government—or a government closer to home and more accountable to the people. State and local governments, rather than a distant federal government in Washington, DC, know what policies work best for their people, since they live in the communities they govern. Texas, with its unique pandemic policies that have generated a low unemployment rate and a thriving economy, is a prime example of federalism at work.
Texas’ ability to manage the crisis in its own unique way—without excessive interference from Washington D.C.—is what makes this country so exceptional.
When I reflected on all the Lone Star State has to offer, I considered the possibility of moving across the country, thousands of miles away from my family and friends, where I knew almost no one and had no support system. It wasn’t an easy choice, but I decided to take the leap and move to Texas in 2021.
My story isn’t special or unique. People are flooding to Texas, not just from the east coast, but from all over the country. Low taxes, low crime rates, and the freedom to live your life without fear of government intervention are bringing thousands to the state. As I settle into my new home, I’m thankful for our federalist system that allows states to govern as they see fit. And I look forward to the 2023 legislative session when lawmakers will, hopefully, pass legislation to strengthen an already-freedom loving position.