Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Fall colors

As election season approaches, the colors of fall are abounding. No, not the browns and oranges of autumn leaves -- the reds and blues of election signs on everybody's lawns.

Most of the time, Republican candidate's signs are primarily red with a splash of blue, while Democrat candidate's signs are primarily blue with a splash of red. We are all familiar with the images on TV of the "red states" and the "blue states". But where did the red = Republican, blue = Democrat thing come from?

Different colors have very different connotations. Red has connotations of aggressiveness, radicalism, danger, boldness, heat: emotion. Blue has connotations of calmness, thoughtfulness, depth, patience: rationality. So who gets to decide which party is associated with which color? Do the colors accurately reflect the general character of the two primary parties? The candidates? The labels "conservative" and "liberal"?

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