Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Questions from Children

My youngest daughter:
Dad, do the blue and red in the American flag stand for Democrats and Republicans?


G. Verloren said...

A perfectly logical bit of intuition.

We associate each party with a certain color, and do so uniformly. We didn't always associate them thusly - there are not so distant historical examples of the colors being reversed, and of entirely different colors being used - but we've been hugely consistant about it for decades now. And we only really have two parties that receive any meaningful attention. Without greater context, this is a pretty obvious and reasonable mental leap.

In reality, the colors are semi-arbitrary, drawn directly from preceding British flag designs, and indirectly from the traditions of European flags in general, in which red, white, and blue are the overwhelmingly dominant colors, nearly universally so. What meaning the colors do have is not actually fixed, although they were ultimately derived from historical heraldic traditions and conventions, which are today decidedly obscure. Since even most adults are ignorant of these sorts of details, it is of course unsurprising that a child wouldn't have the first clue about them, and would instead intuit an actually familiar possibility as the reason for their usage.

pootrsox said...

" The notion that there were “red states” and “blue states”—and that the former were Republican and the latter Democratic—wasn’t cemented on the national psyche until the year 2000."

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-republicans-were-blue-and-democrats-were-red-104176297/