People move for many reasons: climate, housing, employment, education, family, taxes, health, and so forth. During the Covid-19 pandemic, some beleaguered residents relocated to states with less-restrictive policies, such as Florida. In Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, entrepreneurs and thought leaders dissatisfied with the prevailing leftist regime took refuge in a community of likeminded souls, called Galt’s Gulch. They were dissidents, relocating for political reasons. In Rand’s fictional world, their sanctuary was located in Colorado. In real-life 2021, Nashville, Tennessee, is attracting a growing number of conservative figures seeking relief from hostile economic policies and an intolerant cancel culture. In the process, they are turning Music City, USA and other Tennessee cities into a center-right mecca.
Who are these transplants? Noted free-market economist Art Laffer began the conservative migration in 2006, when he moved from Southern California to the Nashville area, primarily for tax reasons. Tennessee has no state income tax and relatively low property taxes. With Laffer’s encouragement, Tennessee eliminated its estate tax as well. Laffer, who compiles an annual ranking of states for the American Legislative Exchange Council entitled Rich States, Poor States, has long championed Tennessee for its favorable economic policies. Tennessee is one of the nation’s most conservative states; President Trump carried Tennessee in November 2020 by a margin of 61 percent to 37 percent.