The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Betty Williamson
Local columnist 

Hope to vote 'red, white and blue' this Veterans Day

 

Last updated 11/10/2020 at 5:58pm



A couple of colors have been on my mind the past several weeks.

Perhaps you’ve been thinking of them, too: Blue and red.

(Please note that I’ve listed them alphabetically, to avoid charges of favoritism or bias.)

There’s a good reason why most of us don’t remember this obsession with “blue states” and “red states” from our childhood.

We didn’t have it then.

The notion of using colors to help illustrate election maps came about, not surprisingly, with the advent of color television.

NBC introduced the first all-color map for the 1976 election.

Ironically, they used blue to mark states that voted for Republican incumbent Gerald Ford, and red to denote those whose majority had voted for the Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter.

The colors swapped parties in the 2000 presidential election between George H.W. Bush and Al Gore, according to a 2014 National Public Radio article called, “The Color of Politics: How Did Red and Blue States Come To Be?”

That was also the first year commentators used the terms “red states” and “blue states.”

You don’t need me to tell you that this last election has been particularly vitriolic. It is disheartening to see and hear the broad sweeping expressions of anger.

I’ve heard voters from both sides vowing to never visit a state of the opposing color again, calling for boycotts of businesses in counties or cities that “voted wrong,” and “unfriending” anyone who voted differently than they did.

Here’s a problem with that.

I don’t know of a single state that is 100 percent red or blue. Or a single county. Or a single neighborhood or city or village.

In fact, I know plenty of households that aren’t only one or the other.

Shoot, I’m not even personally 100 percent red or blue. I have never voted a straight ticket in my life, including this year.

In the race to attach labels — labels designed to divide and separate — it feels we have forgotten that blue and red originated on a flag we all share, a strikingly lovely one emblazoned with 50 white stars.

That flag is flying high today in all its glory across the nation as we honor and remember our veterans.

If we got to have another election today — on this 101st anniversary of Veterans Day — I don’t know about you, but I’d be voting “red, white, and blue.”

And hoping for a landslide.

Betty Williamson is clinging to her desperate optimism. Reach her at:

[email protected]

 
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