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Hialmar

Political colours

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On 11/6/2018 at 6:05 PM, Hialmar said:

I read about the American election in the news. To a European like myself, it is confusing, that the Republican Party is symbolised by the colour red, and the Democratic Party symbolised by the colour blue. To me, it is counter-intuitive. Where I live, the Labour Party and the Left Party are symbolised by the colour red and the two conservative parties by the colour blue, and I believe that the same symbolism is true in, for instance, Germany, France and UK.

The red for Republicans, blue for Democrats thing in the U.S.  is actually quite recent.  It came about completely by accident during the 2000 presidential election.  American TV networks, during their election coverage, had always shown maps in our national colors of red, white, and blue, with white indicating states that had not yet been decided, and red/blue indicating either Republican or Democratic wins.  But prior to 2000, each TV network assigned colors their own way, some coloring Dems blue, and others coloring Repubs blue.  But in 2000, by sheer coincidence, every TV network used red for Republicans and blue for Democrats.  When you flipped channels, you saw the exact same color coded map on every channel.  During and after that election, reporters started talking about "red states" and "blue states," and since they were now consistent across all networks, this shorthand terminology stuck.  It's been a standard ever since. 

I agree that it seems backwards.  Back during the Cold War, "red" was synonymous with communist.  Communists were referred to as "reds," and the most hard-line anti-communists, who were almost always Republicans, would often use the slogan "better dead than red." 

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3 hours ago, BigSteve6ft3 said:

The red for Republicans, blue for Democrats thing in the U.S.  is actually quite recent. 

I wasn't aware of that.

3 hours ago, BigSteve6ft3 said:

Back during the Cold War, "red" was synonymous with communist.

When the quite heated split between reformist Social democrats and revolutionary Communists happened here in 1917, both movements continued to use the red colour. Likewise, when the Communists here began to cut their ties to Moscow after the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, which disappointed them deeply, and when they dropped the communist moniker in 1990, they kept their symbolic colour.

The Social democrats never allowed the Communists to have any tangible influence, and when a broad coalition government was formed at the outbreak of WWII, it consisted of Social democrats, Liberals, Conservatives and Agrarians, but no Communists.

When Americans discuss socialism, you seldom understand how much the reformist Labour movements in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were informed by other currents of ideas than rigid Marxism. Social liberalism of Thomas Hill Green's type is the most important one, of course, but, regionally, the social ethic of Methodism was rather influential in UK, and the ethic of Neo-Kantianism was important in the Scandinavian countries (and in Germany before 1934). People tend to forget these roots, even here.

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The color thing used to be the other way around in the US as well. Red for Democrats and Blue for Republicans as was typical for right and left elsewhere. Democrats were traditionally baited by Republicans as Communist sympathisers for political gain so at some point someone decided to switch the colors to remove any implications that Democrats were Communists. ‘Murika! 🇺🇸 

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As I am not an American, my two cents worth is probably less so, especially taking into account the current exchange rate... but, at this point looking from the outside in, you should start discerning between the corporately owned republicans and democrats, colour them all the same, then take the most polarising extremists on both sides, choose opposite colours for them, then, whomever is left (if any)  you should get to run your country.

 

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