Those of us from the "sea of red" throw up our hands too often and say "this is why I left". That's self-defeating and ignoring a tremendous opportunity. What we need to do instead is to go back home.
At first, maybe that means spending a weekend talking with people, getting lunch in a local restaurant. Reading a local newspaper. Learning who the mayor is. Connecting with the city council --not as carpet baggers coming from the city, but as prodigal sons coming home and asking honestly "how are you doing?"
The goal is not to advocate, but to start a conversation away from our bubbles, reengage as citizens from a shared homeland. Many people from these red counties feel forgotten, left behind. While their concerns may be different than our own, they are no less real.
Meanwhile, we begin networking with others who left the area We compare notes, learn about specific issues. With that network, we begin organizing "homecomings" where people return to their hometown en masse.
Importantly, this is not an attempt to demonstrate or advocate. Instead, these homecomings are service-project based. We find a community need and help pitch in. Not because we want them to vote a different way, but because this is where we came from. This is where we played little league, this was the parking lot where we learned to drive. Because these places built us, too. Because we care and haven't forgotten.
Change happens when we show up.