Saturday, September 15, 2012

A call for purple society

At seeing a poster of Queen and an especially (even more than usual) ostentatious-looking Freddie Mercury plastered on my bedroom wall, a friend asked me how I could possibly be a conservative. I responded with, "I guess I'm unique."

In afterthought, I decided I should have said, "your implied association of my supposed political affiliation with my choice of an artistic display seemingly reserved for those with loose and left-leaning moral values is indicative of a sweeping socio-political trend that has changed the cultural atmosphere of this nation and has shifted us into a seemingly inescapable political paradigm of polarization and strict adherence to prearranged dogmatic platforms."

Hindsight in this case is about 20/30.

Despite what I said, should have said, will certainly only ever say in afterthought, etc., I suppose it's easy to see where my friend was coming from. After all, he's a working part of a decreasingly purple society.

We used to be a lot more purple. In 1953 for instance, we elected republican Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. Republican Dwight (shall we call him Re.D?) proceeded to endorse some very un-republican like policies, such as the expansion of social security, the increase of minimum wage, and the creation of governmental departments of Health, Education and Welfare, all things which really gave those on the far right a case of the blues. Despite such actions, he was elected, and, even as a red president showing hints of blue, re-elected for a second term.

How purple things were back then.

In November of this year, we will need to choose a president with whom we can, as a collective nation of concerned citizens, paint an improved portrait of America for future generations. However, it's difficult for the modern American to even envision an equally purple option as Eisenhower, much less see one on the ballot. Rather, we must render from a presidential palette offering but two colors in stark contrast, the reddest of red and the bluest of blue, smeared on polar opposite sides of the easel. If we choose to paint with red, options for the slightest tint of blue later on will not be available - hopefully we won't have plans for any water in our future America. If we choose blue, our options will be equally limited - we can paint the ocean or paint the sky, but impossible becomes a sunset of reds. If president Eisenhower were a legitimate third option, an additional color would be added to the middle of the easel -- purple. By choosing purple we could paint a majestic humpback whale, then separate out our reds and our blues and provide our whale with a deep blue ocean that reflects the rays of a red sunset in a cloudless sky, providing endless light for the happy citizens below riding on very American-looking jet skis.

Now that sounds like the kind of painting our next generation will want to hang on their wall, right next to their Queens and Freddie Mercurys.

Of course, I am not suggesting purple is always the right choice, but rather that with purple in the literal and figurative picture, one can take some red and take some blue as they wish, without having to commit to a single color scheme. It is important to understand that this is not a manifesto for independent voters. I am not attempting to equate my notion of purple with any political affiliation. By purple I do not mean a literal 'middle ground' between left and right, nor am I advocating against voting for anyone who does not have a 'mixed blend' of political perspectives. I only hope to shed light on the thick (and getting ever thicker) boundaries that now stand between groups of  ideologies, and the difficulty in overcoming such boundaries in order to be considered a legitimate participant along a commonly accepted ideological spectrum.

It's a sad sort of farce that one could make themselves into the most promising republican candidate for president, yet it's all for naught if they happen to simply be pro-choice. Conversely, they could be a sharp and dedicated democratic candidate, and have no chance whatsoever of winning the white house simply because they support something like tax cuts to those in the highest income bracket. One must commit fully and solitarily to a side, to a single group of ideologies, and run on them with steadfast persistence if they are to have any chance.

This all may seem hyperbolic, but it only takes imagining such a scenario in modern politics to realize how true it really is. Go ahead, try it - I dare you to come up with a reason for Mitt Romney's delegation to concede the legality of abortions, and I double dog dare you to conjure a situation wherein Barack Obama's constituency would support tax cuts to the rich. Furthermore and finally, I triple dog dare you to think of someone you know who, upon seeing this on my wall, would not assume they stood in the bedroom of a "liberal."

Truth be told, I get weary at even hearing these words anymore - liberal, conservative, democrat, republican; the original meaning behind these classifications has been contorted and they now stand as fundamentally disparate social categories, categories defined by their purely insular philosophies and those that abide by them in totality.

Furthermore, and in the spirit of color wars and other exhaustive analogical machinery, I propose we refer to our two major political parties by the animals that represent them - elephants and donkeys. Unfortunately for all the "independents" out there, the only thing in between an elephant and a donkey is an ass of some sort, depending on which animal is in front of the other. And so it is far too convenient not to repeat: although I am promoting purple, I am not condoning being an ass. Whether you agree with my political leanings or not, that is a proposition everyone can get behind, figuratively speaking.

The bedroom comment that incited this commentary is seemingly petty, but it is simultaneously a prime example of anti-purple thinking. What was assumed about my political alignment was juxtaposed with something as trivial as a poster of a 70's rock band. Right then and there, I fell into a strange category far and away from red elephants, blue donkeys, or asses of any color, one separate from all the preconceived notions present on either side of any modern debate. That is what sparked my friend's question, and that, along with the shifting dynamic of modern politics towards stringent categorization and staunch polarity, bears meaning to the notion of purple - I suppose I owe my friend a thank you.

We should look back to the years of the Eisenhower presidency to re-appreciate the independency of thought, the tolerance of mixed ideologies, and the value of thinking purple.

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