August 5, 2012

Tea Party Aesthetics and the 2012 Color Wheel

Ted Cruz Heidi Cruz Victory

Between the visual politics of the Olympics and the presidential campaign, the Tea Party win in Texas by the ultra-conservative and also ultra-bright Ted Cruz nearly slipped past me. Fortunately, an enthusiastic Bag reader with his eye on the larger ticket sent me the photo above. He was struck by the lone dark face in the image, most certainly working security. (In that face, I saw something of an Obama echo, myself.)

Besides the phenomenon of overwhelmingly white Tea Party adherents lining up behind non-Anglos (Cruz is half-Cuban, and half-Irish and Italian), I was interested in the politics of color, but particularly, the pure chromatic kind.

In both the Texas race and that other big Tea Party Senate primary upset in Indiana, what you see is the insurgent far-right candidate embracing the color red as if it was emblematic of a more fiery conservatism. In the photo, the bright red sign dominates as the patriot anchor to the twisting balloon strands of white and blue, the same red amplified by wife Heidi, the investment banker and the red-haired daughter. With that much rosiness, its only strategic that Cruz himself might back it off a little bit with the pastel blue tie.

Mourdock crowd red UW


Looking at two representative images of the contrasting hues of the Republican Mourdock and Lugar campaigns, check out the difference in color scheme — one consistent throughout that primary campaign — between a Murdoch rally (hard to distinguish from the crowd at a U of Nebraska football bonfire) as compared to the Lugar blue(s). It’s as if the “establishment conservative” incumbent had been relegated to a more Democratic centrism — consistent with that familiar refrain that the middle keeps shifting right.

120411 richard mourdock ap 605

And then, holy States rights! Talking politics of color in this campaign cycle, you may or may not have caught wind of the controversy surrounding a couple of ties in Mourdock’s rotation. As the two Republicans duked it out over neckware, Politico offered up this choice Mourdock quote:

“I do not own a Confederate necktie. I own two ties that are red with a blue stripe with white stars. I bought them at the Republican state convention,” he said. “I don’t even know how to respond. I am stunned. If you’re running for class president you do something like that. I don’t have anything that has a Confederate symbol on it, anything like that. That’s lunacy.”

As I sit here rubbing my eyes, me thinks he doth protest to much?

h/t: Adam Higdon

(photo 1: Johnny Hanson/AP caption: US Senate candidate Ted Cruz and and his wife, Heidi, celebrate after he defeated Republican rival David Dewhurst in a runoff election. photo 2: Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye caption: Hundreds of Mourdock supporters made for an ocean of red at the Senator-elect’s victory celebration in Indianapolis on May 8, 2012. photo 3: AP caption: Sen. Richard Lugar responds to a question outside of a voting location Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in Greenwood, Ind. Lugar is being challenged by two-term state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. photo 4: AP .)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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