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Red + Blue = ?

On one of the hardhitting Sunday news shows, one of the pundits referred to “states that Democrats don’t even fly over.” It was pretty obvious he was talking about the so-called red states in the South and some of those with Rocky Mountains in them.

But I wonder if this guy knows that, although Mississippi went to Bush in 2004, 40% of voters chose Kerry; that’s 457,766 of the people who live in that state. In Alabama, Kerry won 37% of votes, which were cast by 693,933 Alabamans. That’s more than a million Democrats in “states that Democrats don’t even fly over.”

The pundit wasn’t talking about Missouri, my home state, because Democrats must fly over Missouri on transcontinental flights from the Northeast, where they appear on The Daily Show, to get to California, where they appear on Leno.

While in California, those Democrats might help with the fight against Proposition 8, which, if passed, would prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Not that all Democrats are necessarily liberal, or that Republicans are always conservative, but the pundit must think it’s odd that such a red initiative would be started in such a blue state. But there are a lot of Republicans in California. In 2004, 44% of voters, or six million Californians, voted for Bush.

I realize the pundit probably doesn’t believe that Republicans live in certain states and Democrats in others. His comment suggests a pundit’s world view. He boils down a complex system to red and blue, but is not capable of making purple. It’s really not his fault. His job is to speak to the chronic campaign mode that politicians are in, which doesn’t allow for much discussion of nuances. You can’t just fly over to get the complexities. You’ve got to visit and get to know a place.

Come to where I live in the red part of blue Pennsylvania. Drive around and see more Obama bumper stickers than you might expect. Not on my car, though. I went through enough with my Kerry sticker. The sticker was spat on once when I was in the mall. At Lowe’s someone wrote with a Sharpie on the driver’s side window that Kerry was an asshole and so was I. Another time, a man approached me at a gas station, pointed at my Kerry sticker and said I really knew “how to pick a loser, huh?” Three creepy expressions of politically motivated hostility.

Three reasons to express my political beliefs somewhere other than my car. I know this kind of thing happens anywhere. The point is that I’m here to be spat on. And so is the retired schoolteacher next door, and the female half of the couple across the street. Thanks to us, our neighborhood is a lovely shade of magenta. It’s not just Philly and Pittsburgh that have made this a blue state.

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