What happened to good, old Red, White, & Blue?

posted at 5:15 pm on August 22, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Political conventions have little practical purpose in modern American politics, but still have symbolic impact.  The two major political parties spend years and millions of dollars to project images of unity, purpose, and especially patriotism.  The main motif for the event is the American flag, and the color scheme is Red, White, and Blue.

Well, usually … except when it’s Magenta, Cream, and Cerulean.  Earlier, Michelle took some pictures of the Pepsi Center podium for the DNCC, and the color scheme looked rather strange:

The colors in this design bear only a small resemblance to the colors in the American flag.  Sure, you can call them red, white, and blue, but they’re pastels of each color family.  It’s not exacly a strong representation for the usual theme.

Just in case Michelle’s camera malfunctioned, I checked out the Denver Post, and …. well ….

Not much better, is it?  It looks even more strangely garish at the official convention site:

It looks like an Academy Award show — loud, ugly, and misshapen.  The speakers will get lost in all of that overdesign, even without the odd color scheme.

Contrast that — literally and figuratively — with the Republican color scheme and presentation:

In terms of symbolic power and resonance, the GOP has clearly remained with tradition, opting for strong, authentic colors.  The Democrats’ pastel offering may symbolize something, but it’s neither tradition nor strength.

Update: Courtesy of the comments section, here’s Ronald Reagan at the 1976 Republican Convention:

Whether it is different this time than it has ever been before, I believe the Republican Party has a platform that is a banner of bold, unmistakable colors, with no pastel shades.

We have just heard a call to arms based on that platform, and a call to us to really be successful in communicating and reveal to the American people the difference between this platform and the platform of the opposing party, which is nothing but a revamp and a reissue and a running of a late, late show of the thing that we have been hearing from them for the last 40 years.

Update II: I’m not the only one who noticed the chaotic nature of the Democratic design.  Kate Phillips at the New York Times advises … sunglasses:

The differences couldn’t be more stark. You may need to wear your sunglasses indoors at the Democratic convention to mute the eye-popping colors. And while the cameras will surely zoom in on each evening’s speakers, the speakers on the stage will seem invariably dwarfed by the overshadowing backdrop. Someone already likened it to a game-show stage; get ready to call your lifeline for concentration.

The Republican stage, on the other hand, was designed to capture the intimate settings Senator John McCain enjoys when he talks to voters in town hall settings, according to convention plans. It’s not that high off the main floor of the arena, and its drama may be in its simplicity. And using the enormous American flag as its background serves as an echo of the campaign and convention motto, “Country First.”

It’s almost as if the Democrats wanted to distract viewers ….


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