Altering the red-blue divide

Barack Obama’s historic victory has created a new electoral map.

Several red Republican states turned blue for Democrats on Election Day. Some blue states turned even bluer. Predictably, the result has buoyed Democrats and depressed Republicans. Less predictable is whether the change will last.

The president-elect himself downplayed the idea of Red America and Blue America on election night. Obama told hundreds of thousands of his supporters that "Americans . . . sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

Is Obama right? Is America still Red and Blue, or more purple hued? Does Obama’s signal a decisive blue shift in the United States? Or did voters merely seek change after eight controversial years of Republican governance? Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, weigh in.



Here’s what the election of Barack Obama says about the state of Red and Blue America: We’re tired of George W. Bush.

It’s no more complicated than that. Republicans complained incessantly for months that Obama’s mantra of "change" was meaningless, but we all knew exactly what it meant: Obama would do things differently than Bush. In some respects, it didn’t even matter what or how he’d do them differently. With 90 percent of Americans saying the country was on the wrong track, it was plain that plenty of Democrats and more than a few Republicans were ready to see another approach — just about any other approach — in action.

Obama’s victory might also mean that Americans are tired of partisan sniping, but here’s a hard truth: That’s not going away. Democrats and Republicans disagree sharply on vital issues. In a democracy, that’s natural and healthy.

But Republicans also know their long-term path back to power depends, in part, on the failure of the Democrats. So they’ll keep up a steady drumbeat of criticism, no matter how sincerely Obama wants to govern in a bipartisan fashion.

In four or eight years, maybe we’ll be as tired of Barack Obama as we are of George W. Bush. Maybe we’ll be ready for another change. Right now, though, we’ve voted for the change we’ve been looking for.



Barack Obama painted the electoral map a little bit bluer this year. But Red America isn’t going to roll over and watch passively as their wealth is expropriated and their beliefs are belittled and undermined. That kind of change is for chumps.

Turns out, about one-in-five self-identified conservatives voted for Barack Obama. Are conservatives embracing Obama’s agenda? Of course not. They are rejecting the corruption and incompetence of the party that has carried the "conservative" mantle for a decade or more. Red state voters — and especially red voters in blue states — understand that the Republican Party hasn’t been conservative for quite some time.

The mantra of change wasn’t entirely meaningless. Certainly "change" means different things to different people. Changing an unpopular administration. Changing parties. Changing policies. Barack Obama promised $1 trillion in new spending — not chump change. He wants universal health care, universal pre-school and an ambitious effort to embrace alternative energy sources. And he vows to rehabilitate the United States’ global reputation.

Americans are willing to embrace change. We’re an innovative and optimistic people. But a lot of Americans still believe in freedom and self-reliance. Plenty of people do not accept the nostrums or the nanny-state policies peddled by the left.

Fact is, Barack Obama inherited a nation that’s still split more or less 50-50. Americans are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but not their liberty.


(Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis blog daily at and