Although the "purple" counties are that kind of muddy shade you get when you don't know what you're doing with watercolors.
RECENT PBS special on color blindness demonstrated that, while most people see Republican red and and Democratic blue states on a U.S. election map, some color blind see green and blue states, owing to the tendency of reds to be perceived as green by those who possess the condition known as "Granny Smithism."
Said Jim Wallace, President of the Color Blind Coalition of America, "We see a more pastoral color palate of the two major parties than others do; therefore, we tend to view their rivalry as more of a frolic in the meadow than as an extreme fighting match in a cage. It really helps with the acid reflux, as you can well imagine."
Mr. Wallace, dressed in a fuchsia madras sports jacket, orange turtleneck, purple slacks, and red wingtips, said that Granny Smithism did not, however, lead to a lower rate of voter participation.
"If anything, we want to get the vote out more, because we've got special issues to contend with, and we want to make our voices heard in the green as well as the blue states and the mud counties."
For example, Mr. Wallace cannot hunt because the warning color of choice for hunters is blaze orange, "which makes hunters look like giant, rifle-toting lime wedges, but even so, they do tend to blend into the flora. Why can't they wear blaze plaid? This is something our legislators need to consider, if they want our votes."
Asked about traffic stoplights, Mr. Wallace insisted that the red/green color issue did not constitute a driving hazard for other motorists.
"We're not dummies, you know. There's 'up green' for stop and 'down green' for go. We've all got our own memory tools to compensate for color deficiencies. For example, mine is: 'up green' is like 'up chuck,' and that you want to 'stop.' And 'down green' is like the color of Cynthia Nixon's hair in Sex and the City, and I would definitely want to 'go' in her direction. That whole thought process takes, like, a split second for me at a traffic light."
To determine the severity and type of a person's color blindness, Mr. Wallace says that subjects are shown a set of large circles comprised of dots of various colors and asked to report what images they see formed by the dots.
"What I've seen since I was a tike are cute little chartreuse poodles. My doctors say I should be seeing various numbers, like 74 or 21. Hogwash, it's poodles. I know a Rorschach test when I see one."
Mr. Wallace said he was "thrilled and honored" to accept an invitation to attend an upcoming White House luncheon to honor what President Obama calls "the significant contributions made by this often-overlooked group of Americans, the visual-light-spectrum challenged."
"I don't know if the President himself is color blind," admitted Mr. Wallace, "but I do know he hates beets, and that's good enough for me."
© 5.13.09 Kate Heidel