I HAVE LIVED all my years in states that are now called "blue" by the guardians of the democratic process. The first candidate I ever voted for was Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the only Democrat was John F. Kennedy.
Lately, I have passed up recent elections because the deep blueness of my state guarantees that all electoral votes will go to the Democrats, as will almost all local offices. It seems the only way to effectively participate in the democratic process is to move to one of those battleground states. Or else despair, like the late Pierre Salinger, and move to a European haven.
The psycho-graphic profiles of the electorate by partisan consultants contributed to a rising political hypochondria that permitted individuals like me to feel the pangs of every ideological symptom out there. The media-concocted red-blue divide offered an easy escape from having to sort through the complex issues.
But whether one thinks red or blue thoughts, the Blues must deal with the reality of terrorism. Yet the Reds claimed the security issue for themselves. Who wants to blow up a cornfield in Iowa anyway? The Blues, who have the most to lose, felt most secure in Sen. John Kerry's embrace.
In fact, Osama bin Laden's TV warning in the last week of the campaign clearly stated that his issue is with the American voters who have supported the interventionist and exploitive American policies in the Middle East over the years. His warning, clearly aimed at the red states, was ignored by the media even though the English translation was available.
Amazingly, pollsters told us that the dominant issue for the Reds in their electoral choice was "moral values." Gone was the traditional pragmatism that had served the democracy well since its founding, replaced by the raw emotionalism of the evangelical flatlanders dancing on the graves of Christopher Reeve and Rock Hudson. The Reds, in effect, elected a new spiritual leader. In the blue states, where high church denominations tend to dominate, they leave those decisions to cardinals and bishops' councils.
Heterosexual Reds went to bed on election night secure in the knowledge that their high priest would not be performing any gay marriages in his colonnaded sanctuary, while gays were left to ponder Canadian alternatives. The Reds had been hooked at the polls by the lure of a "faith-based initiative" strategy that not even a conservative Supreme Court is likely to uphold. There is still hope for the next generation of Reds whose children will be exposed to the liberalizing effect of going to schools with blacks, Hispanics, secular humanists, Catholics and immigrants, both legal and illegal.
Pandering to religious fundamentalists defines the politics of the New World Order in both Christian and Muslim countries. Fundamentalism is an irrational power trip beyond the reach of reason. That's why the war in Iraq makes so much more sense to the emblazoned Reds than to the cosmopolitan Blues. But if the Reds were deaf to the litany of President Bush's transgressions, the conservatives were not. Little was made in the media of Patrick J. Buchanan's indictment of Mr. Bush and reluctant support of Mr. Kerry.
Where did the Reds come from? They flickered for a while in the racist politics of the Old South, until Ronald Reagan broke the unions and exported the workers' jobs, thereby dashing blue dreams and hopes. He summoned all to a "shining city on the hill," a New Jerusalem where the nomads in America's cultural desert would find contentment in burger-flipping jobs. When a leader finally emerged who felt their pain, the Reds mobilized like killer ants to bring him down, all the while ignoring the ominous rumblings in the bowels of the World Trade Center.
The aftermath of the election has left many Blues wondering if the nation will ever extricate itself from the vise of the red states. What's a Blue to do? We'll continue to pay most of the taxes while the underemployed Reds get a disproportionate share of the federal redistribution. We'll get some of it back when the Social Security privatization scheme sends red cash to blue financial centers. And our intellectual capital will continue to increase as our great centers of learning drain blue brains out of red states.
Life is cyclical. We defeated the fascists in 1945, and it took 50 years for their ideology to reassert itself. Given the quickening pace of political and social evolution, a new age of reason should dawn in about 20 years. Until then, I will detour my annual family vacation from a North Carolina beach to the Jersey shore. I will only eat California oranges, and luckily most of the good wine is produced in blue states, etc., etc.
And from my choir pew every Sunday, I will pray that when the Lord says "vengeance is mine" that both he and bin Laden's god aren't looking in our direction.
Andrew Ciofalo is a journalism professor at Loyola College in Baltimore.
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