the very red button


It's a long way from "I LIKE IKE," but even "DUMP BUSH" doesn't come close to it.

I've been wearing a simple flag-red button on my shirt for a number of weeks. If I'm asked what it means, I answer something like, "the Left," "independent Leftist," "none of the above" even, somewhat more dramatically, "revolution" (ok, revolution at least in the Jeffersonian sense). I may then go into the long historical association of the color red with revolutionary change.

Not everyone asks about the button, of course, and some people get it right away, telling me quietly or enthusiastically how much they like it. Some ask if I have an extra they could wear themselves (I do have more, for now, although it's a relatively limited supply).

Not surprisingly, I've found that the savvy people were for the most part born outside this country. When confronted with the image, even my reference to "the Left," most Americans are totally non-plussed, often twisting their heads to one side quizzically, perhaps hoping to spot something in empty space. In the U.S. there simply is no Left, so I have to explain that for me the red button represents, among other things, a fundamental, radical opposition to both major candidates and their parties, and the Right Wing agendas they each represent.

Actually, more and more I realize that I don't really know where to begin. In the face of such ignorance as that which now characterizes the American political landscape words seem more and more inadequate, if not totally meaningless; hence the abstraction of the very red button. Is it actually a sign of despair?

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Published on September 23, 2004 5:04 PM.

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