Bracelets are once again a political statement, thanks to some entrepreneurs who are selling red rubber ones and blue rubber ones so that people can proclaim their political preference on their wrists.
It isn’t the first time the bracelet has assumed such a role. In the Vietnam War, people wore silver bands that bore the names of the prisoners of war. More recently, Lance Armstrong has made the yellow rubber bracelet imprinted with the word LIVESTRONG a national phenomenon.
However, I think the red and blue bracelets are not a good idea; in fact, I am so against them that I’m going back on my own promise not to discuss red/blue politics in my writing.
Unlike the two other examples I’ve cited, the red/blue bracelets focus on what divides us rather than what could unite us. And, since it’s already clear that our country is pretty well divided, why wouldn’t we want to work on what we have in common rather than continue stressing our divisions?
I can see where the red/blue dichotomy was useful during the campaign as a way of indicating which presidential candidate a particular state was leaning toward. I can also see how the major television stations needed some sort of graphic explanation for how each state ultimately voted. But I cannot see what continuing the red/blue debate, even at the level of jewelry, solves.
Every state, regardless of its color, is composed of those who voted for the Republican candidate and those who voted for the Democratic candidate. While I can’t prove it categorically, I bet every state also had a lot of crossover voters from one party to the other. So to continue to label one state as all red or all blue simplifies the situation.
Today we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, whose life was dedicated to erasing the inequalities between black people and white people. I wonder what he would think about dividing us into red people and blue people.