Someone may want to help me with my history, but as a boy and young man, I do not remember anyone talking about “red states” and “blue states.” However, during election seasons in these days, we hear some application of that concept on every newscast. The blue states are those which will almost certainly vote to have their delegates cast their ballots for the democratic candidate for president, and the red for those who will vote republican. Of course, with those two divisions also come states that do not fall neatly into either category. These have been called the "swing states." This is where Wisconsin falls this election.
It is in the swing states where the candidates evidently put most of their money for political advertisement, and all of us are tired of reading them, seeing them on TV, hearing them on the radio, and receiving them in our mailboxes. As one citizen of the state of Ohio put it (Ohio is another state like Wisconsin but even more greatly contested), “Living in a swing state is not nearly as fun as it sounds.”
Another term for a swing state is a battleground state. This leads me to the subject of this blog post. Under our system of delegate representation for the states, I understand the need for the two parties to strategize in order to win the delegates from the various states. I also understand that there are certain positive aspects of the electoral college process, but in the past few decades, an unfortunate result has been a map of our country that highlights division: Red vs. Blue. It may be that the swing states are called the battleground states, but in some ways, the whole country has become a battleground.
Of course it is important in every election to distinguish the differences between the two candidates, but recent elections have become downright nasty. Not only are the candidates nasty to each other, but if you dare to look at facebook or any other social media, you can see that the supporters of these candidates are even more nasty to one another. We are becoming more divided as a country than we have been at any time since the civil war, more than 150 years ago.
And the red/blue map of the U.S. only tends to reinforce that division. It is sickenly reminiscent of the maps we used to study in U.S History that showed the division between the confederate states and the union states. We recently even had some war like tactics here in our state of Wisconsin, when there was an “occupation” of our state capital building. These types of things should not happen in a United States and shows that we have forgotten how to relate to those of differing opinions in a civil and courteous way.
On Tuesday we go to vote. No one in our country is able to predict with any amount of certainty who our next president will be. I encourage all eligible voters to cast their ballot for the candidate that they sincerely think will help our country the best, which may not necessarily be the one who will bring the most benefit to them personally. Then, when it is all over, I encourage all people to strive to work together to do some actual good for our country. We might be surprised what can happen – congress might even decide to get something done.
One of our greatest presidents was the one who presided over the nation at the time of its greatest peril and when our nation was divided along the lines of that other map of the states. This was Abraham Lincoln during the years of the Civil War. I close with a quote from him:
“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”