On the day of each national election – after the campaign dialogue has all but ended — I reprise something I first wrote in 2007. It seems like a fine wine that improves with age – but only because our political culture does not.
“FEELING BLUE ABOUT SEEING RED
I find myself channeling Dr. Seuss:
Red state? Blue state? What are we to do, mate?
Blue state? Red state? Make me go to bed late.
More red, you dread. More blue, I rue.
Maybe in the morning we’ll find a better hue.
Blue state? Red state? More confusing than you think.
Red state? Blue state? All I want is pink
Donkeys are blue. Elephants are red.
Don’t know why, but that is what they said.
Red state? Blue state? Always in the news.
Blue state? Red state? How are we to choose?
Red means danger. Blue means sad.
Making these decisions is gonna drive me mad.
Blue state? Red State? Popping on my screen.
Red State? Blue State? Nobody voting green?
Half the country blue. Half the country red.
Turning off the TV and heading for my bed.
The question of the state’s colors on our national election night news maps got me thinking. When did those broadcast rascals make the switch-a-roo on the colors? In my early days in politics, the election night political maps always showed the Republican states in blue and the Democrat states in red. Sometime between then and now, the big three networks appear to have made a behind the scenes decision to switch the traditional colors. But why?
Is it possible that they just wanted to give their favored Democrat party the more positive color? I am not paranoid, and I even hate to think that those guys in New York would stoop to such a thing. It is just too petty. I mean, they entirely too busy distorting the daily newscasts to bother with such seemingly trivial graphic matters.
Or are they? My problem is that I cannot think of any other reason why they would change the colors.
It probably would not affect a specific election night outcome. But … is there a long-term psychological impact? Do voters think more kindly of blue Democrats than they would or red ones?
There is no doubt that blue reflects positive American imagery. It is a cool color, and seems to be more patriotic than red. Yeah, I know red is in our flag, too. Outside of Santa Clause, however, red is a disturbing color in our culture. Everything associated with the devil and hell is red. In 1776, we fought the redcoats. Our contemporary world adversaries have been the “Reds” – the “red menace,” no less. Danger signs are red. Red Alert means an imminent terrorist attack. A Red light means an annoying stop. The Red Cross brings to mind disasters. When we are angry, we “see red.”
Blue is a peaceful color. It reminds us of patriotism. It is the color of a clear sky. The soothing blue water. The only negative connotation is feeling blue — sad.
Hmmm. Maybe that is it. You know, when I see my native state, Illinois, go blue on election night, I do get sad. As more states go blue across the nation, I can go into a total funk. So, maybe I should not be so harsh on the network bosses. Maybe they understand me. They switched the colors out of respect for my depressed state of mind — to represent sadness.
So, there ‘tis.