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World Association of International Studies

Post Reds and Red States
Created by John Eipper on 07/25/17 6:21 AM

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Reds and Red States (Timothy Brown, USA, 07/25/17 6:21 am)

I beg to quibble with Roy Domenico (July 24th).

Unlike all the rest of the world, in today's United States the color of the right-of-center Republican Party conservatives is flaming red, while, again, unlike the rest of the world, the color of the left-of-center Democratic party is delightfully blue.

My professor of Political Psychology (my primary PhD) would have labeled this a major propaganda coup by the left. But, then, before she left Moscow State University where she'd taught during the Cold War, she'd been unusually well versed on how one subtly manipulates public opinion.

In short--sorry Roy--in the United States it's no longer obvious that "The Reds are communists."

Here it's the far-left faction of the Democrats who are cheerfully Blue.

JE comments: I tried to make this same point when commenting on Roy's post. 

Some years ago we attached a date on the "Red State/Blue State" division. The original culprits were the TV networks, who needed a way to mark the states on the electoral map. In the early days of color TV, the Democrats were predictably red. Was it the "liberal media" that staged the coup of turning them blue?

According to this 2012 Smithsonian article, the color shift happened in very recent times:  the Election-without-End of 2000.


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  • Reds, Red States, and Blue States (Roy Domenico, USA 07/26/17 4:27 AM)
    I just finished sending my last post--which was something of a question--and I read Timothy Brown's response (July 24 and 25).

    I'm not sure if we disagree on that much. I get Tim's point that the Republicans are red now and I expect he's right with the under thirty (or forty?) crowd who never experienced the "old" notion that the reds are communists (at least old in America's case--identification of with the far left is still the norm for most of the world). But this still bugs me and says something about the declining place of history and heritage. My concept of red drew from more than a century-old self-identity. The far left (mainly communists) were red and proud of it--and this heritage can still be seen in the flags we've mentioned. The current American connection between red and Republican is apparently based on some media decision--either by a political operative or someone simply ignorant of the tradition (or maybe both).

    Deep down inside, I've never been comfortable with the idea of painting the US Republican Party red and the Democrats blue. JE triggered this in me with his statement that it happened in the 2000 election. I don't doubt that--but why? Somebody somewhere--I expect some functionary at a TV network--made some bizarre decision to use red as the conservative color. Was there ever an explanation?

    JE comments: Could the decision have been purely esthetic? The South votes Republican, and blue, like the sky, looks better when it's on the top. Also, the Coasts are Democratic, and can be blue like the oceans.

    It's just a theory.  Perhaps a lame one.  I was reading House Beautiful last night.

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    • "Red Century": New York Times (Luciano Dondero, Italy 07/28/17 2:11 AM)
      I surely bow to our American colleagues when they describe how "red" is now getting a new spin in US politics.

      However, I think this series in the New York Times might be helpful to keep a sense of historical/world balance:


      JE comments:  An excellent recommendation, Luciano, for this centennial year of the Russian Revolution(s).  There are several articles in the series I'm looking forward to reading, beginning with the discussions of whether Lenin was a German agent (and funded no less by German condoms--most intriguing).

      Imagine an alternate universe in which the USSR still exists.  This would be one helluva year of centennial pageantry.

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    • Reds and Red States (Robert Whealey, USA 07/28/17 5:14 AM)
      I agree that Republican-leaning states should be called by their true name, and not by the color Red. The traditional Democratic states should be called by their traditional leanings, not Blue.

      The United States, Great Britain, the French Republic from 1789 and the brief Provisional Government in February 1917 in Russia, used the red, white and blue. If you turn the Russian flag upside down, it would become the Dutch Tricolor.

      An all-red flag was used briefly during the French Revolution by Danton. The red flag was born again in the 1905 Russian Revolution and with Lenin in November 1917.

      Red became a symbol of contempt in the United States from 1917 to 1991. That red flag became a symbol for dogmatic, ideological propaganda against Communism. TV once again would like to sow confusion in the United States, with voters 18 and below, who have never read a single history book. The intelligence agencies would rather hire English majors than History majors in federal government. Historians and philosophers, who are looking for the truth, ask too many embarrassing questions, in my opinion.

      JE comments:  Don't the intelligence agencies prefer technocrats, STEM types?  In any case, English majors are trained to think critically, just like philosophers and historians.

      In this discussion we've done justice to the politics of red.  Shall we lighten things up a bit?  How about the "Pinkos"?

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      • Reds and Rojos, Republicans and Republicanos (Enrique Torner, USA 07/29/17 8:56 AM)
        The names and colors of the US political parties are extremely confusing, especially to Spaniards. I always have had a very difficult time trying to explain to my family in Spain that American Republicans are the complete opposite of Spanish "republicanos," also called "rojos" (reds). So, when, after the 2016 American election, Spaniards saw the electoral map, many of them thought that the "communist" party had won by a lot, because they saw so much red on the map! The added complication is the American electoral system, which is incomprehensible from the point of view of the common Spanish citizen.

        Reversely, when I teach the Spanish Civil War in my university classes, my American students tend to identify "republicanos" with Republicans, and think that they are conservative! I believe French and Italians have the same problem, right? What other countries have it?

        JE comments:  Same in my classes.  US students have a very hard time with the basic premise of the SCW, because the Republicanos were on the left side of the spectrum.  Even more confusing for them is the notion that the rebellious side was on the right.  Aren't "revolutions" always the handiwork of the Commies?

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      • Russian Flag and Dutch Flag (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 07/30/17 7:31 AM)

        Robert Whealey wrote on July 28th: "If you turn the Russian flag upside down, it would become the Dutch Tricolor."

        Please see both flags below, showing that this is not the case.

        JE comments:  Absolutely true, but several accounts of the origin of the (Tsarist) Russian standard in 1696 establish a connection to the Netherlands.  Peter the Great was an admirer of Dutch shipbuilding prowess, and apparently the Russian flag was inspired by Dutch ships calling on the port of Arkhangelsk.  See below:


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