One of my colleagues, now long retired, put it this way. Frankly, I can’t remember who said what — who gets the credit. Or who gets the blame, depending, of course, on your perspective. Anyway, the question is this: Why do Republicans own red?
When I was a U.S. congressional page for the Republicans, they wore red. Red neckties and red party dresses abounded. Later, when I switched sides, I began to relate more to my friends from the other side of the aisle. This wasn’t hard, since Tip O’Neill was the speaker of the House when I was a page, and the Republican party was so small (circa 1977–78) that my friends were pages borrowed from the other side: Southern Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats, bold Democrats, or just plain curious Democrats coming from the closest city to red that we had: San Francisco. The Republicans, in other words, did not have enough leg power, or person power, to run all their errands. So, back in the day, the Democrats were gentlemen* and would help them out — at least at the level of running errands to the House floor.
Getting back to the conversation at hand, I didn’t turn blue for long. The Democrats, I quickly learned at Claremont Men’s College, were not as, but almost as ______ (fill in the blank) boring in the absence of agents of change as the Republicans. In a two-party system, they were Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
So, I moved left. Moving left after college meant leaving the country. Going abroad, I ended up in the one country that could be counted back then as dissident, or had a dissident history — the former Yugoslavia.
Here we all embraced the red. Indeed, one of my going-away gifts was a basket of red stuff — red nail varnish, lipstick, etc. — and the biggest movie that spring, when I got to decide if I wanted my diploma to read Claremont Men’s College or Claremont McKenna College, was Reds, by Warren Beatty.
Back then, red was the color of communists — and I never quite put it together why it was also the color of Republicans.
Anyway, listening to Max Boot on a Forum podcast got me thinking: Now we do know — not why they, but at least he, wears red. And this got a laugh out of me.
It made me think: “Better dead than red” made sense to my relatives and I decided to resist my relatives with “Better red than dead.” But today’s Republicans are so anti-intellectual that you might say: “Better-read? Then dead.” Whose color is it anyway? Or are we all seeing red, knowing that some say or dance around it that our president is committing treason.
* I say gentlemanly because the House was a gentlemen’s club. We were taught that the number-one reason a woman sat in the House was because her husband had died in a plane crash. I still have yet to check the veracity of that statement.
** you guess