I’ve had enough of being written off as a dreaded red-state resident. It almost sickens me as much as hearing George W. Bush defame liberals, like we’re some subversive sect that doesn’t even deserve a whisper of a voice. Tennessee went for Bush, but there are still plenty of Kerry supporters here, just as there are many Bush supporters in blue states.
I think the blue state/red state labels do more harm than good. They allow people to look at the map and make faulty and absurd conclusions. Is it really helpful to compartmentalize the country like that? Is it necessary? Doesn’t it just reinforce the stereotypes and, even worse, the real feeling of division so many of us already experience?
The last few months were tense for me and for many of my coworkers, friends, and family members. For the first time, I refused to allow myself to engage in any political talk with people I even suspected to be Bush supporters. I’m not good at arguing, so I rarely talk politics anyway, but this year, my reluctance was fueled by a fear that friends would become unfriendly, that we might not be able to laugh it off. And I wasn’t even sure who would be holding the grudge, them or me.
I don’t want to feel like I can’t reconcile my ideals with my friendships. My friends and neighbors are good and (mostly) reasonable people, even the ones who voted for Bush or who didn’t vote at all. I am also a (mostly) reasonable person. Yet, to look at all the red and blue and to hear people talking about it, you’d think I was in enemy territory—surrounded by idiots who never use their brains and don’t possess their own hearts, people who’d like to tar me and place a big blue “L” on my breast.
To make any sense of each other, we can’t continue to relish in all these perceived faults, whether the faults are somewhat real or completely false. I don’t agree with those who voted for Bush. I am angry at the administration they kept in office and fear what might come of it. I’m sure Bush supporters felt the same sort of potential threat from Kerry. What we, the people on both sides of the fence, can do now is make our cases the best way we know how and hope we’ll make sense to each other. Sense probably won’t prevail if we keep seeing red and blue.
*I have to admit, though, I brooded about it too. OK, I’m still brooding. I’ve retched over my entrenched location on the red part of the map. I’ve directed plenty of insults, glares, and rolled eyes at my fellow red-state inhabitants. It’s hard not to give in to that temptation. I just don’t want to wallow in it forever.
**Here’s what the map really looks like, if you make the size of each county proportionate to its population.