BY JEREMY BLACHMAN
It feels like the big storyline since the election has been red states versus blue states, and how we somehow find ourselves in a huge divide. How the people in the blue states are blue with sadness, and the people in the red states are red with the blood of Iraqis on their chests. Or something like that. I feel like as a blue-stater, I have an obligation to be outraged. But I think we’re looking at this the wrong way. Of all of the divides that we could possibly have in this country, a red state / blue state divide isn’t so bad. I know people in the red states. I even like some of them. They’re not all stupid, and they’re not all evil. And being at war with the red states, or whatever the condition of the red-blue conflict is, is a lot less scary than, say, a race war or a religious holocaust. I’m not afraid of the red states. We’re really not that different. Even at the extremes, what is it, a 60/40 Democrat-Republican split in the blue states and 40/60 in the red ones? Not that different. We’re all mostly purple anyway.
More than anything else, I feel like the red state / blue state conflict is a marketers’ dream. Can’t you picture “Electoral USA,” a new Six Flags theme park, perhaps even in Ohio, where you can ride the Republican Rocketship to the polluted sky filled with chemicals that the Bush administration rolled back restrictions on, or you can take a spin on the Democratic Deficit-Dropper that brings you from high in the air back closer to the ground but costs an extra $10 to ride? There’d also be the Donor-Go-Round, where you can ride on the backs of big business, and the Social Security Scramble, where you get on line for the ride, but have no idea if it’s going to be closed by the time you make it to the front.
It’s not just an amusement park waiting to happen; the red state / blue state conflict is ripe for money-making opportunities of all sorts. Blue State Blue Jeans, new from Levi’s. Red State Red Raspberry Sorbet, at Baskin-Robbins. Would you like red ketchup, or brand-new blue ketchup? Heinz should totally be all over that one. The Red Sox will toy with becoming the Blue Sox. Blue Man Group is fine for some of their tour, but in half the country they need new paint. “From the rocket’s red glare” should get omitted from the national anthem in half the country; blue corn tortilla chips are the next big thing; The Bear In The Big Blue House will be censored over the Great Plains.
I’ve heard some Democrats say that this election was a true disaster; that there’s no possibility for a Democrat to get elected ever again to anything. The electoral map in 1896 had virtually the same split as the map from 2004 – only in 1896 the parties were entirely reversed. We don’t have any idea what it’s going to look like 100 years from now, or even four years from now. Maybe a string of purple compromises can bring us all back together. Grape juice becomes our official beverage; eggplant becomes the national vegetable; that crazy purple girl in Willy Wonka becomes mayor of Cleveland. And national unity results. Happy purple people dancing in the streets, ignoring the boundaries between New York and Pennsylvania, or Illinois and Indiana, and just happy to be part of one big purple country.
We can argue until we’re red in the face – er, blue in the face – just pick one – you know what I mean – about the political issues that separate us. But in a lot of ways, the red states and the blue states aren’t very far apart. We all love Jesus. Oh, wait, no, that’s not right. We all support a woman’s right to… to vote. Yes, that’s an uncontroversial one. We all think Ralph Nader is a little crazy for running for President again. And, actually, this might be the start of something interesting. Because while Red and Blue may be fighting, the one thing they all agree on is that they’re better than Green. So key lime pie is out, replaced by purple plum pudding. And green beans are gone. And we’ve got to stop drinking green tea. Completely. Cold turkey. No more. Despite the antioxidants.
We have four years to make nice with our red neighbors. I think we can do it. So that by 2008 it’s back to the traditional battle lines: class warfare, ethnic tensions, and Yankees vs. Red Sox. I mean, we can’t be on the same side as New York. It’s impossible. It’s anti-American. And we’ll be really sick of blueberries by then, since they’re the only food we’re allowed to eat. Gotta admit, the red states got the luck of the draw with that one.
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