The following is a guest post by Richard Lowery. He sent it to me while ago, but we had a bit of a family emergency and I’m just getting around to catching up on things.
A Question of Color
I have an issue to raise about color. I confess that I have a problem with a situation involving color and I have certain prejudicial opinions that I must reveal.
No! No! No! Not color involving race or ethnicity. There will be no avocations of bigotry to follow. I am not about to pledge allegiance to an Aryan motorcycle gang and reveal my inner Hitler. So please - everyone stay calm with regard to what I am about to say about color.
My issue with color has to do with… maps! Maps, I tell you. Maps. Behold – I present a map that has been color coded by county with the results of 2016 U.S. presidential election. I don’t like the map and I think that it is wrong.
No! No! No! I do not mean that the map is wrong in terms of the actual election results due to a malevolent miscount of votes. I am not suggesting that Mr. Putin stole the election from Mrs. Clinton by hiding Russian agents in secret trap doors below voting machines so they could stuff the ballot boxes in favor of Mr. Trump. The popular election results are just fine.
No! No! No! I do not mean that the map is wrong because the Electoral College is a sinister device that channels the wishes and desires of the forces of evil bent on impeding the progress of the forces of good.
The Electoral College is a delightful piece of 18th anachronism that was wisely instituted by a bunch of old dead guys long ago and it is foundational to our method of filling upcoming job vacancies for the top position in our federal government’s executive branch.
It should remain as is and those who are clamoring to eliminate the Electoral College should please go away and leave us alone. (Note – anytime the N.Y. Times Editorial Board wants to change the U.S. Constitution, then you are almost always best served to immediately oppose their suggestion.)
My problem is that the color coding is backwards! The GOP, the U.S. right-wing party, is represented by red and the Democrats, the U.S. left-wing party, is depicted by blue. I submit that this is inaccurate from a historical viewpoint and it needs to be switched – preferably by midnight tonight. It is like painting St. Patrick’s Day signage with purple colors as opposed to green. Sure you can do it, but you are sort of going against the traditionally recognized color scheme.
For at least the last 200 plus years, Western political parties of the Left have designated red as their color of choice. Consider those revolutionary of revolutionary people, our friends the French. These folks have political revolutions like Mr. Bill Clinton has marital affairs, so they know what they are talking about. (1) The color red came into vogue during the 19th century for cutting edge French Lefties who desired to display their political bona fides in a proper manner and as the 1800’s progressed it became more and more common for their European fellow travelors to adopt this practice. Any fashion conscious European revolutionary that listened to a spittle flying harangue given by some rabble rousing demagogue, or attended a lecture presented by an utopian loon, or participated in public gatherings to chant inane platitudes, or looted some neighborhood shopkeepers, or rounded up some aristocrats for an upcoming execution, or just raised a ruckus while manning the barricades would generally adorn the festivities with flags, signs and other paraphernalia colored in red. Eventually some social democratic movements chose lighter shades of red (ie: pink) to represent themselves to signify that they were to the Left but were less virulent than their harsher Socialist and Marxist cousins. This is quite understandable since this latter crew is a rough bunch to hitch your wagon to from a public relations standpoint. (2) (3) (4) Some accounts say that red was chosen to represent the workers blood spilled for the movement. I like the choice because nowadays it represents the red ink spilled by their half-baked economic policies. (5)
Conversely, it was common for political parties of the Right to adopt blue, but the practice was less consistent than the Left’s embracement of red. Conservatives are apt to be more fractious and often do not exhibit the robot-like lockstep adherence of their progressive brethren. Hence, down to this day blue tends to be the color flown by many parties of the Right and some notable mentions include the Conservatives (U.K), Fine Gael (Ireland), Christian Democrats (Germany), Likud (Israel), Freedom Party (Austria), Kuomintang (Taiwan), various South Korean conservative parties and the Conservative Party (Canada). (6)
Hence, when the European press reports election results, the parties of the Right are typically depicted in blue and the Labour, Social Democrats and Socialist parties in red. Behold – I present maps published by the Euro-media of recent election results from Germany and the U.K. with the right-wing parties in blue and the left-wing parties in red. (7)
All righty then. So now we come back to the U.S. and my color conundrum. It just ain’t right. Now, I do not subscribe to any conspiracy theory as to why this situation exists. For example, I do not believe that a group of media mavens, Marxist academics and Democratic Party operatives secretly met behind a grassy knoll in the backyard of one of Barbara Streisand’s luxurious estates to collaborate on blue color coding schemes to hide the fact that Democrats subscribe to a liberal agenda. There is no need for all that because apparently Democrats relish being associated with the Left. After all, one of their party leaders and erstwhile presidential candidates is a curmudgeonly ancient and unaccomplished back bench socialist senator from Vermont by the name of Mr. Sanders. That is pretty much “Red” or at least a salmon on the political hue scale. We will leave Mrs. Clinton’s red pant suits alone for the moment.
The ongoing map solecism is generally due to the divisiveness of the 2000 Presidential elections when the parties were assigned their current respective colors by the national media. Previously the dazzling TV maps showing U.S. elections results had no consistent coloring. But the extended recounts and drawn out political fisticuffs of 2000 burned GOP red and Democrat blue into the public mind and since then the media has muddled along on autopilot belching out the same wrong political color scheme. I’m like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day waking up every morning and living with the same situation but unable to change it.
Alas, for the present we are stuck with the Republicans as red and the Democrats as blue. Well, at least the maps are in solid colors and not a paisley motif or some sort of namby-pamby design pattern.
Richard J. Lowery Jr.
- The French Revolution of 1789 is the Ur-revolution for the Left in the modern era and it was a nasty affair. The streets literally ran red with blood as the revolutionaries dispatched ruthless justice upon their opponents. The following describes the fate of 1,000 outnumbered Swiss palace guards loyal to monarchy who were descended upon by the Paris mob. As fighting ensued, the Swiss were told by the King to lay down their arms and to not fire into the surly crowd to prevent further bloodshed thereby exposing them to mercy of the radicals. The palace guards followed the King’s orders and attempted to withdraw from the mob. “Obedient to the last hour of the monarchy, the Swiss were forming up to retreat to the palace when they were set upon by the attackers and slaughtered brutally wherever they were found. Those soldiers who could see in time what was in store for them ran frantically… and some threw themselves from high windows in the palace to the flagstones below to get a start on their pursuers. But they were given neither shelter nor quarter. Hunted down they were mercilessly butchered: stabbed, sabered, stoned and clubbed. Women stripped the bodies of clothes and whatever possessions they could find. Mutilators hacked off limbs and scissored out genitals and stuffed them in gaping mouths or fed them to the dogs… Robespierre (said it was)… ‘the most beautiful (act) that has ever honored humanity’”. Simon Schama, Citizens, (Random House 1989), page 615. A number of guardsmen were captured and put in prison. They perished a month later in the September Massacres. Just all in a day’s work of a radical. C’est la vie!
- The magnitude of killing of the “People’s Revolutions” of the 20th century is staggering. The death toll under Far Left regimes is estimated to be 85 to 100 million people.
- The Russians Bolsheviks admired the French radicals who gave us The Terror. For example, after taking over the Czarist navy, the Communists changed the name of the battleship Petropavlovsk to Marat in honor of Jean-Paul Marat the legendary half-baked revolutionary French nut-job.
- This is not to say that the Far Left regimes that made a habit of churning out corpses did not have their Western admirers. The NY Times reporter Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize in 1931 for his preposterously credulous reporting on the USSR. He denied that Stalin’s farm collective program created widespread famines that led to a million or so Ukrainians starving to death and somehow he missed all the gulags, political executions and repression that were a part and parcel of Stalin’s Soviet Union. About 50’s years later the NY Times got around to admitting that Duranty sort of got some stuff wrong.
- For the red flag pictures I googled “revolutionary red flags” and then clicked around through the results. Some of the sites that I used were:
Also I googled “paris commune posters”
- The choice of blue by right-wing parties can be noted by their signs, posters, flags and literature. For example, the following link is from the Encyclopedia Britannica shows the German CDU flag with blue being very prominent. http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/de%7Ddrcdu.html. A useful general recap of party colors can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_colour. Also, note that it is not uncommon for center-right European Christian Democrats to also use orange.
- The German election map found at: https://welections.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/germany-2013.png. The UK election map found by googling “images for uk election map 2015 economist”.