Reflecting on last week’s election, I rejoice in the priceless process — as I have since 1962, when I reached the age to exercise the privilege and responsibility of voting — but find myself far less than sanguine about the post-election mudslinging that continues unabated.
The day following the election, The New York Times informed its readers, “By many measures, Colorado is shifting blue.”
On the same day, far closer to the Colorado scene and far more unequivocal, the lead editorial of The Gazette proclaimed emphatically, “It’s Official, Colorado turned dark blue.” A murky monochromatic shade I I find disquieting.
After the votes were tallied, in the still hours of the evening, I began to feel not unlike one of Jesus’ distraught disciples portrayed in Rembrandt’s magnificent painting, “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” that was inspired by the passage in the New Testament, Matthew 8: 23-26:
23 And when he was entered into a ship his disciples followed him.
24 And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch, that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and then was a great calm.
Rembrandt’s 1633 painting depicts this ship being battered unmercifully by the elements in a roiling sea while stygian clouds loom above.
The vessel’s mainsail is slashed in half and the dusky craft appears about to founder.
I was not so alarmed at the pronounced blue tsunami of this election cycle — after all, to the victor go the spoils — as I was at the continuing stridency of differing viewpoints, and the subsequent upheaval it has wrought in the media, social media, on main street, and in our homes since President Donald Trump’s election two Novembers ago.
Gone in many quarters of our state and nation is the belief that politics is the art of compromise, replaced with the intractable assumption by many that politics is the practice of boisterous, ill-mannered dissension.
It’s not implausible likening today’s fractious and infected partisan times in Colorado’s and the country’s body politic to necrotizing fasciitis disease, a rapidly-spreading flesh-eating bacterial infection that untreated proves fatal.
The interval between the past battering election and when candidates of both colors are sworn into office is an ideal time to reconsider what connects us rather than what divides us. As The Gazette wrote in its post-election editorial congratulating Governor-elect Jared Polis, “Elections are to governing what weddings are to marriages. They are the beginning. The real work begins when new candidates take office. We all have a responsibility to watch our elected officials and hold them accountable for delivering the results we hoped for when casting our ballots.”
As any artist knows, when you blend red and blue the result is magenta. Interestingly, magenta has come to represent collective harmony and emotional equilibrium. It also symbolizes love and encourages compassion and cooperation.
Oh we red and blue faithful, may magenta find its way onto our palette as a palliative to decrease political dysfunction.
Todd Tarbox, author of several books including “Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts,” lives in Colorado Springs.