Today is election day and I got to wondering how we became divided into red states and blue states. So, when in wonder…go to the internet.
It wasn’t clear exactly when colors first started being used to designate the parties, certainly in the 19th century when Texas employed this means on the ballots to help Spanish speakers and those who were illiterate.
At a national level, in 1908, they were used by the media of the day to designate electoral votes when showing Theodore Roosevelt’s 1904 victory. Blue represented the Democrats and yellow represented the Republicans. The 1908 electoral map showed Republican states in red and Democratic states in blue with yellow being the undecideds.
With the advent of color television, the use of the patriotic colors became common, though inconsistent. At times, Democrats have been red and Republicans blue. At other times, it’s been the opposite. Both parties were hesitant to being labeled red since it brings with it thoughts of communism.
From 1976 to 2004, the incumbent colors alternated between red and blue with each election. With the elections of 2000 and 2004, “red state/blue state” became consistent to mean “Republican state/Democrat state.” Since then, it’s become a part of our lexicon and drilled into our minds.
As for those undecided states, in the past, white was the designation. But on recent projection maps, red and blue have been blended to become purple states. It makes sense to me.
What has all this to do novels? Nothing really, unless you are reading or writing about a Tim Russert-type character. But wouldn’t it be nice, beginning with this election, to see each state on the map using the patriotic combination RED, WHITE and BLUE instead of clearly dividing the country into “I’m right and you’re wrong?”
Whichever color you choose to represent you, go out and vote.
Question: If the Tea Party ever becomes a true, separate party instead of a movement, which color will it be? A healthy, antioxidant green, maybe? (Oh, sorry, that’s already the been taken by Ralph Nader and the environmentalists.) I like peach tea, so maybe a “peachy” color? Or yellow for the lemon added?