Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dear Dems: Please stop saying that!

Last night, I caught a couple minutes of Senator Clinton talking to Larry King on CNN. When asked the typical question about the red state/blue state issue, she started off saying that she didn't see the country that way...but then she quickly started beginning sentences with the phrase "In red states...."

States are truly only red or blue one day every four years, due to the pecularity of winner-takes-all electoral college voting. The rest of the time, they're just states. Surely, some more liberal or conservative than others on the whole, but they don't have a color unless you choose to see them that way.

We've all seen those maps like THIS, THIS, and THIS wafting through our email in the last few weeks. These really do make me sick to the stomach because of the prejudice they reveal. Besides being rediculously hyperbolic, we're essentially confirming for many people that we really do think of them as racist dunces in fly-over country.

My biggest concern about Dems adopting the language of red/blue is that I think every use of those terms reinforces their validity. We're actually selling red-statedness as a concept to people who live in those states. Proposed: the Dems need a swearing jar. Every time a national Democratic figure uses the phrase "red state," they should have to put $5,000 of their own money into the pot. Or have their mouths washed out with soap by the (eventual) new chairperson of the DNC.

I'm not foolish enough to believe that Kansas and Utah are going to be shipping their electoral college votes to a Democratic presidential nominee anytime soon. But let's not write people off, and let's not make life harder for the many successful senators and governors who run in state-wide elections in the South and Midwest. They're our vanguard on the way back. Let's not show hatred and disrepect for my friends and relatives whose religious, economic, and political views, while different from ours, were honestly derived.

There is a great debate to be had about the direction this country will take. The only way to win it is to appeal to hearts and minds. The only way to appeal to hearts and minds is to show your heart and mind. And if this is the way people in my party want to show their hearts and minds, please count me out.

For more refined ways of thinking about the electoral map of the 2004 election, see HERE, HERE, and HERE.


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