I had the odd experience this week of seeing a woman in the grocery store wearing a t-shirt that read: “The Red South: Moral Heartland of America”. Aside from the absolute gall of claiming such a thing, the shirt was so poorly designed and so tight that the picture of the southern states (yup, in bright red color) folded below this woman’s breasts making them appear as though they were bleeding…which I find to be an oddly appropriate visual metaphor.

But let’s get to the claim about the South being the “Moral Heartland” of this country. If history serves, and I do believe it does, the southern states did in fact perpetrate a treasonous act by seceding in order to keep people in slavery. Compound that history further with another hundred years of segregation, Jim Crow laws, and the South being the operating base of the KKK. Moral Heartland? I think not. Also the claim that being “Red” or by inference, being conservative, or Republican, or religious somehow gives you the corner on the market of morality is simply a fallacy or the largest proportions.

This is not to say the North, East, West or even the Mid-West or any varietal of liberal and Democrat has some claim to the title either. We’re all flawed, Red or Blue, not matter where in this country we live.

I have to admit that this t-shirt had me pretty riled up. I thought back to the 2004 elections when Sailor Man and I, living in Maine, gave serious consideration to getting the hell out this country for while, we were that despondent. But of course that’s just a knee-jerk reaction, much like trying to get the state of Maine to join Canada or become it’s own country (it almost is anyway), that in itself being a treasonous thought, was also knee-jerk and not the answer either.

This country has been so polarized since the 2000 in which one side claims moral superiority over another and the 2004 elections did little more than further drive a wedge between people by this Red State/Blue State, You’re Either with Us or Against US rhetoric. As much as I relish the thought of the current administration leaving office, I have also been dreading this election because it just drags out all the same derision and the absolute worst aspects of this society.

But I’ve recently made peace with the 2004 election by taking a second look at election result maps. The first map I pulled up, and the one most of us are familiar with, depicts a clear Red/Blue mentality. But if living in Erie has taught me nothing, it has taught me that nothing is ever as clear cut as it may seem. I’ve met more conservative thinking people who label themselves as Democrats and more liberal thinking, tree-hugging Republicans than I can shake the proverbial stick at. So after some more digging, I came across this site that showed not only the ubiquitous Red/Blue map, but shows a variety of maps that represent the 2004 election results are they truly were. No one state being truly Red or Blue but all being varying shades of Salmon and Purple.

It really strips away this notion of polarization when you can see something for what it is. And I must admit, I’ve been much cheered as of late by this sense of crossing the party lines by both Dems and Pubs. And people seem to be voting “outside the box” on both sides of the spectrum. I’m not committing to the idea of hope, but I feel as though there might be slight breeze of change. That people want a sense of moderation.

And few things have solidified this feeling more than coming across this blog this morning about “Bald, Middle-aged, White Men for Obama”. It’s not that I am supporting Obama, I have yet to make up my mind on any candidate as of yet, but to see a demographic I largely feel out of touch with (as I probably should not being bald, middle-aged, or male) go where I thought no white-man would go before, is starting to show me that maybe people are in fact thinking for themselves again and not like herded sheep motivated by fear of the Big Bad Wolf, whatever incarnation that wolf is presented to be.