One Party Two Party Red Party Blue Party

The politics of color identification continue to grow in this country.  Now by color identification, I’m not referring to anything racial, but rather the “red state blue state” mentality that is becoming more widespread.  For example, in the world of political blogging and activism, we have folks like RedState and RedStormPAC on the right and Blue Virginia and Blue Commonwealth on the left.  Although not really conservative, as they hail from the “red state” of Tennessee, there is also the satirical Red State Update.

The notion of identifying the color red with the Republican Party/conservatives and the color blue with the Democratic Party/liberals is a relatively new concept arising out of the 2000 Presidential Election where states won by George W. Bush were labeled in red and states won by Al Gore were labeled in blue.  Prior to that time, there was no uniform color scheme to identify the parties.  Some years the Republicans were blue, some years they were red.  It should be noted that, so far, neither party has officially adopted their assigned color.

Personally I dislike the system and believe it would make far more sense if the colors were reversed.  Like Thomas Nast’s elephant and donkey, the colors, in my mind, serve as a criticism for both.  The Republicans should be blue as their critics claim that their tax cutting plans and trickle down economics benefit the rich, the well connected, the elites, the blue bloods.  The Democrats on the other hand promote nationalization and expanded government power like you would see in a communist or “red” country.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Painting the right-wing party blue and the left-wing party red is a fairly universal concept outside our borders.  For example, if we examine the rest of North America, in Canada the Conservative Party’s color is blue and the Liberal Party is red.  So too is it for Mexico where the PAN is blue and the PRI is red (and also green).  Moving across the pond (as the British like to say) we find Europe in much the same color plan.  In the United Kingdom, the Conservatives are blue and Labour is red.  Need more proof?  In Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Norway, and Austria, the CSU, Union for a Popular Movement, PP, Civic Platform, Høyre, and FPÖ parties are all right-wing and use the color blue while the left-wing SPD, Socialist, PSOE, SLD, Labour, and SPÖ parties have all chosen or been assigned the color red.  One can even see similar trends in Asia where in Japan the LPD’s colors are blue and orange and the DPJ is red and black.  In South Korea the GNP is blue and the DP is green (OK, it isn’t a perfect system).  Although not every party lines up with blue for right-wing and red for left-wing, especially in multiparty countries, it is a fairly accepted norm.

Thinking back to our own colors and perceived negatives about the parties, I guess you could say that the Republican Party is now red due to the zeal for war and the resulting bloodshed, but what really ties the Democrats to blue?  I think the blue Republican and red Democrat make far more sense.  After all, if the Democrats are blue, isn’t calling conservative Democrats “blue dog” redundant? Although I am certain it won’t happen, given that Republicans “hate the poor”, I say that we should salvage our elitist blue and leave red for those “commie” Democrats.

4 Replies to “One Party Two Party Red Party Blue Party”

  1. I confess that, for me, the red/blue dichotomy in use in the United States has always been confusing for me. I have to think twice about what is meant by “red state” or “blue state” because, prior to 2000, red was always associated with the left. (Just look at the Soviet or — get this — Red Chinese flags.)

    NBC chose the red and blue map colors arbitrarily and the Bush/Gore near-tie made the associations somewhat permanent. And wrong, I think.

  2. Switching the red/blue assignments to America’s political parties would help the colors be more consistent with world color usage, and I’m all for world standards. Then again, Americans seem to like to be unique. For instance, we still hang on to the American system of measurement (similar to the British Imperial system) while most of the world (even the British) now use Metric. We also seem to be incredibly stubborn once we pick a standard, even if it’s arbitrary – think VHS vs. Beta.
    Whatever the use of colors, I’d think that Republicans would be wise to stay away from ‘Red Scare’ tactics. While Communism is viewed unfavorably, public perception of witch-hunters like McCarthy doesn’t seem to be too high either. After all, just like color preference, a lot of politics is based on perception.

  3. I thought in the past the Democrat Party was always associated with the color red and the Republicans with blue. Eventually the news media switched the colors due to the Democrat Party was being compared to the Communist Party hince red and that is why the change of color.

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