Why I am “Wading in a Sea of Red”

Jim Reeves I was just thinking about you calling me Red. It’s fine, I get where you got it. I don’t have anything against it. I was just thinking about the irony of being called Red.

The meaning behind “Wading In a Sea of Red” is based on the fact I live in Mississippi, which is a deep red state. I live in a small rural town in a DEEP red district.

My beliefs and values tend to be less conservative and more humanistic.* I am surrounded by conservatives, both family and neighbors. I was raised by conservatives who are deeply religious.

Then something happened, that I felt gave me permission to think for myself. I learned it was okay to ask questions and make an educated decision. Even if I ended up believing in something the majority of my family didn’t.

The national scene

It was 1992 and George H. W. Bush was up for re-election.

Everyone knows, serious contenders for the presidency wait to run, after the sitting President has served two terms. A candidate unseating a sitting President is a long shot.

The Democrat opposition was a nobody hick Governor from Arkansas. He was surrounded by controversy, and his wife was considered a FEMINIST!**

Yet, he had a way about him. He embodied Southern Charm and had a soothing voice. His politics were moderate for a Democrat, and he claimed to be tougher on crime than his Republican counterpart.

At the time, appearing tough on crime was the only way a Democrat could win the Presidency in a post-Reagan America. Bill Clinton out Republicaned the Republicans.***

The more local scene

My grandmother never worked outside the home. She had five kids. There were twenty years between her oldest and her youngest. She was from a southern generation where most women followed their husband’s lead. My grandfather had come to expect her to bow to his wisdom, when it came to the world beyond their house. In the entirety of their marriage, my mamaw’s vote mirrored that of my papaw’s.

Until the Fall of 1992

Mamaw could have cast her vote for Clinton, and never said a word. Instead, she proudly told my papaw, in front of everyone, she was voting for a Democrat…

Time stood still. Nobody dared to breathe. Mamaw’s declaration couldn’t have been more shocking, if she had said she was a Bama fan.

My papaw, who had voted Republican his entire adult life, looked at her as if she must have hit her head. This led to a heated debate. Mamaw stood firm. The debate continued long after the rest of us went home.

I couldn’t get my mamaw’s words out of my head. She made good points. I had never paid much attention to politics, but I watched the third Presidential Debate, and hung on every word.

My papaw put his foot down, and told her, “You are voting Republican, and that is that!” Mamaw told him where he could put his foot. This resulted in neither speaking to the other for days.

The silent treatment continued until election day. Then, papaw argued their votes would just cancel each other out, and said they weren’t going to vote. Mamaw, who no longer drove, told him to do whatever​ he wanted. She called her son, my uncle, and he drove her. My papaw pouted the rest of the day, and for the first and only time in his life he did not cast a ballot.

I know this makes my papaw seem petty, but this was an unusual circumstance. I think he was so used to mamaw following his lead, having her stand against him on something this important, threw him. He didn’t know how to react. The whole family was privy to their disagreement, so papaw’s pride was hurt when everyone agreed that mamaw could vote for whoever she wanted.

Politics became important to me

Seeing my mamaw stand up to papaw on this issue and refusing to budge, jump started the beginning of my interest in politics. I vote based on the issues, but so far, that has led me to vote Democrat. I cast my first vote in the 1996 Presidential Election at the age of eighteen.

I’m just a tiny blue dot in a very deep red state. Hence the name “Wading in a Sea of Red”. I am striving to raise my children with humanistic values, in a conservative world.

So I guess “Blue” would be a more fitting nickname. 😊

*humanism

(noun)

An outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.

**I was raised to think of feminist as a bad word. Now, I consider myself to be one.

***This led to the “Three Strikes” policy, that when added to Reagan’s “Mandatory Minimum” policy, led to the mass incarceration of millions of Americans. This disproportionately affected minorities, especially black men. Clinton came to regret these policies, but the damage has already been done.