When you write something like, “I don’t know if I’m red or I’m blue,” you just have to anticipate that some well-meaning souls are going to try to explain a few things to you. “Just so you’ll know how to vote,” they’ll say.
The truth is, I actually do know how to vote. Since I’ve pledged not to “do political” this election year in my public life, you’ll just have to guess.
What I’m not sure of is whether my votes will cast me to the red or the blue side of the aisle. That’s not a political statement. It’s the whole color scheme thing I can’t get a handle on.
At this very moment, I do know that red is for Republican and blue is for Democrat. I know that because I just googled it. But did you know that the people who paint in those little United States maps with red and blue change the meaning of the colors from time to time? For many years, the color red was associated with communism and socialism. As a result, “liberal” political positions were designated with the color red. And, prior to 2006, the various media outlets took journalistic liberty to choose red over blue or blue over red to designate political party affiliation — in the same election year.
Today, thanks to the late Tim Russert, we are enjoying a moment of clarity in regard to red and blue. Red is Republican and Blue is Democrat. And apparently, that is appropriate now because the cold war is over, communism isn’t as big a threat, the Democrats apparently weren’t communists anyway, and “red” and “Republican” both start with “r.”
But I don’t want to be blue or red, red or blue. I want to vote for what I believe in. In fact, I’d prefer to be purple.
Purple, as every school child knows, is a blending of red and blue. Purple designates diversity — both in belief and action. Purple takes the best of red and blue and produces something richer, fuller, and more elegant.
I will have friends who are disappointed that purple is my color of choice. But those who know me well know that I don’t think we should be separating into two camps. We shouldn’t be shouting back and forth across a chasm of party division and rancor. We should be sitting quietly, people of differing opinions, urgently talking and searching for the common ground that unites us. Until we get it figured out, we should be acting individually to serve others and to promote justice and then building our programs and our priorities together.
No, I’m not naive. But neither am I red nor am I blue.