Hurrah for the Red, Purple and Blue!

Marjorie Taylor Greene recently said out loud (or more likely, a tweet) that we should just split the country into red states and blue states, let them go their separate ways,  and diminish the role of the central government—in other words, return to the Articles of Confederation which were our national governing document for 1781-89.  She raises the interesting question of how one defines a red or blue state and how stable that definition might be.  (Arizona definitely moved toward the blue end of the spectrum in 2020 and 2022  compared to previous years.)

Perhaps the best measure of a state’s collective political orientation would be statewide votes for president, governor and senator, because these elections are not affected by gerrymandering for the U.S. House and state legislative districts.  So let’s start with her home state of Georgia, which in the last two senate elections went blue (both senators being Democrats) while the Republican governor was recently re-elected and the Democratic presidential candidate won the popular and electoral vote.  I would call that bluish purple, with three of the four tests being Democratic.  And Georgia is not alone.

Wisconsin has a Democratic governor, one Democrat and one Republican in the US Senate, and voted for Biden.  That also makes them bluish purple like Georgia.  Vermont has a Republican governor, two senators who are more or less independent but both caucus with Democrats, and voted for Biden. Maine has a Democratic governor, a Republican Senator, an independent senator who caucuses with the Democrats, and voted for Biden. Virginia has a Republican governor at the moment (the predecessor was a Democrat) and two Democratic Senators, and voted for Biden.  North Carolina is reddish purple with a Democratic governor, two Republican Senators, and voted for Trump in 2020. 

Yes, there are states that are entirely red—my home state of South Carolina, Florida, Texas, North and South Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho.   And there are states that are entirely blue—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois. New Mexico, California. But they are not a monochrome. Within those red states there are blue people and within those blue state there are red people.  And increasingly, there are  many, many citizens who consider themselves independents and wish that the reds and blues would stop treating politics like warfare and rather accept it as an imperfect but useful way of making collective decisions.

Secession was not the answer in 1861. It still isn’t. Time to learn to live together with respect and an open mind.