By now, most U.S. citizens of voting age are very familiar with the words “Red” and “Blue” often mentioned during national elections.
Typically, TV news commentators regularly use these labels to identify states and the two main elements of the U.S. Congress – Republican Party (Red) and Democratic Party (Blue).
Incidentally, both red and blue are key colors of our national flag, visibly exemplifying a commitment to protect“… one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Lamentably, failure to communicate between the two camps has dramatically risen; to the detriment of justice and our representative form of government. Interestingly, right off the bat (as the saying goes), countless surveys reveal that regardless of their political views, citizens want bi-partisanship. In other words, voters expect both sides of the aisle to work together. After all, cooperate, coordinate, collaborate, and compromise are the necessary tools to get things done.
Thus, the hostility is so undignified that many of us yearn for the Ronald Reagan-Tip O’Neill type of partnership government. That was a time when both parties stood for their principles, but compromised in executing their responsibilities. They did so because they embraced the notion that all elected officials are bound by a common values system.
When did colors take on a combative political meaning? While colors have identified party affiliation for many years, modern era use of blue-red identities began during the 1980 presidential elections when a major news network used them to announce election results. Other news outlets soon followed suit and it’s been like that ever since. Also, yellow has been used for third party (independent) identification, and purple to describe a state undergoing change in voting patterns.
What about the names Republican and Democrat? While we take the labels for granted today, they were new terms in the colonial U.S. We must fully understand that our eighteenth century English colonial leaders were what I would call “transitional” citizens. That is, they lived most of their adult lives under rigid English royal rules.
After achieving independence from England in 1783, inhabitants of the 13 English colonies became free citizens who set out to build a republic (democracy) from the ground up. As such, they charted their own government based on natural inalienable human rights they had first declared on July 4, 1776. To record their commitment to forever defend and preserve those sacred freedoms, they solemnly wrote the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
Surprisingly, one of the first two political parties that materialized was called the Democratic-Republican Party. Formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1792 it envisioned a decentralized governing system. Plus, it was organized to counter Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Party that stood for centralist government decision-making.
Through the years, the two parties mutated into several other derivations. That basic tradition of party formation has continued to this day.
Back to the basic question. Why is there so much animosity between the Republican and Democratic camps? Part of the problem may stem from the tendency of each side to vilify the role and intentions of the opposing party with the sole purpose of keeping their voter base in line.
Quite bluntly, for the last few years, both sides have engaged in a destructive game where there is no winner. Sadly, supporters often enable the bad behavior.
For example, on the Republican side, the Democratic Party is not a replica for the socialism bogeyman once called the communist Soviet Union. Conversely, on the Democratic Party side, Republicans are not the U.S. version of the British Parliament’s aloof, affluent House of Lords that some Democrats seem to believe they are.
Equally regrettable is the foul smog of invective that has recently taken hold within the highest level of government. Not only is it unprecedented; it stains our 200-year-old representative government decorum that used to be the admiration of other countries around the world.
Interestingly, although Republicans and Democrats take opposing views of solving our country’s complex socio-economic matters, they are not that far apart from each other. What does that mean? To answer that question, below is the way Webster’s Dictionary describes each of the basic institutions from which both parties originate:
(a)Republic: a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch; a government in whichsupreme power resides in a body of citizensentitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.
(b)Democracy: A government by the people; rule of the majority; a government in which thesupreme power is vested in the peopleand exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation, usually involving periodically-held free elections.
Here are some bonus details. Nowadays, some folks use the term “liberal” as a political insult. Yet, it may surprise readers to know that Webster’s defines it as “belonging to the people; a free person.” Think about it this way, the word liberal means the same thing as liberty. Too bad that this English word has been debased in today’s political debate.
Nevertheless, the common ground between the two major parties is clear. However, in offering these definitions, the fact remains that there are stark differences between Republican and Democratic political platforms.
In summary, whoever takes over the White House is compelled “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”, the same promise that our first President, George Washington made on April 30, 1789. Likewise, U.S. Senators and Representatives take similar oaths.
In other words, as the title of this article proclaims, both Republicans and Democrats are Patriots All; both Red and Blue. That is, both parties are patriotic public stewards, with the same mandate – to equally“pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”Our stars and stripes flag belongs to all U.S. citizens regardless of how they vote.It doesn’t belong to one side or the other.
Lastly, in today’s heated political debate, the two major political groups must learn to coexist, because truly, we are all in this together. This Flag Day (June 14), let’s reaffirm our pledge to ‘agree to disagree without being disagreeable” and send that message to our elected representatives.“Not in numbers but in unity that our strength lies.”(Thomas Paine).