Friday, September 9, 2016

Why Red?

Since its beginnings in 1917 or so, members of the Communist Party have always been referred to as "Reds" - and throughout the Cold War we constantly heard about the "Red Menace" of the Soviet Union and China.  Apparently, red was associated with left-wing movements in Europe long before the Russian Revolution. The flags associated with the European revolts in 1848 as well as the flag of the Italian nationalist Garibaldi were red – indeed his troops were called camicie rosse (redshirts). The flag of the Paris Commune of 1871 was also red.
So why are States that vote Republican called Red States and those that vote Democrat, Blue?
It wasn't always that way. 
In 1976, NBC debuted its first election map on the air, with bulbs that turned red for Carter-won states (Democratic), and blue for Ford (Republican). This original color scheme was based on Great Britain's political system, which used red to denote the more liberal party. 
The color coding we're familiar with today first appeared during the election of 2000, when The New York Times and USA Today published their first full-color election maps. The Times spread used red for Republicans because "red begins with r, Republican begins with r," said the senior graphics editor Archie Tse, "it was a more natural association." 
Using that logic, Democrats should be labeled with a color that begins with D.  Good luck with that.  I checked, and the closest I could come was a Crayola (and a digital font) called Daffodil, a bright yellow.
I'll admit my logic is skewed.  Why should I think anything about American politics should make sense?

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