How can the red-states, blue-states division of America be a myth? Everyone has seen the maps on every newscast, in every newspaper. There it is, as plain as day for all the world to see - a United States that is etched in blue along the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and Great Lakes, but is red from south to southwest and in the middle.
Behold: The graphic equivalent of what Pres. George W. Bush calls his mandate.
Well, let's take a look at that mandate. The president won more votes - more than 59 million - than any other presidential candidate in a U.S. election.
Do you know who won the second highest number of votes in U.S. history? That would be Sen. John F. Kerry, with more than 55 million votes.
That's a difference of 3.5 million votes, or less than one-half of the 8 million people who live in New York City and fewer than the 4 million in Los Angeles.
The election came down to Ohio, which went for Bush by some 134,000 of the votes counted (such as they were or may be), including that magic jurisdiction where 600 registered voters gave Bush 4,000 votes. If Kerry had gotten 68,000 more votes in Ohio, he would be president.
The margin of difference between who won and who did not was 67,000 votes. That's what is known as a narrow margin. That is not a mandate.
In most states, the margin between being tinted red or blue was quite thin, and the states really should be a mix of dots in red, blue and colors in between for the cities, towns and rural areas next to each other that went with the Democrats and Republicans.
Almost no place in America voted as clearly as did the District of Columbia, which, by way of comparison, has more people (570,000) than Vice President Dick Cheney's Wyoming (500,000). Among the closest neighbors to the Congress, White House and Supreme Court, nine out of 10 voted for Kerry.
In whose interest is it to keep the blue and the gray - oops, I mean the blue and the red - divided? With the mythology of the red and blue states, the Republicans get to keep running the country by promoting us against them, both abroad and at home, and keeping a list of political enemies that is longer than the no-fly list of suspected terrorists.
The Democrats get to keep subjecting basic rights to test votes designed to lose, but to show how bad the Republicans are. Lobbyists and politicians get to keep shaking down Indians and making the rules of the House. Indians get to settle old scores with new money.
In the red-state/blue-state configuration, the party in power has to protect the heartland - the inner white Christian child in America's womb - against those states with too many multicultural cities and ports of entry for too many non-white immigrants.
And what of the southern border? Let's build a 2,000-mile-long security barrier and some duck blinds and shoot anyone who makes it past the razor wire.
Speaking of that wall, a Republican congressman from southern California got the House to agree to build San Diego's part of it over the bodies of dead Indians and live eagles, notwithstanding any other provision of law. It was squirreled away in that foot-high bill not one member of Congress read before lurching toward lawmaking after the national election.
Sen. Kerry was done in by his own Catholic church, which admonished the faithful in Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio and South Dakota that he was an ''abomination'' for his pro-choice beliefs and that it was a sin to vote for a sinner. That, plus Sen. Pete Domenici's hand-over-fist voter turnout tactics, changed just enough votes from the Kerry column to Bush's to make a difference in New Mexico.
In Oklahoma, voters put aside their ''moral values'' and voted a man into the Senate who had sterilized women without their consent. That should have alienated both pro-life and pro-choice advocates, but it didn't. That's how much they didn't want to elect the Cherokee candidate.
The successful Defeat Daschle campaign in South Dakota played on anti-Indian sentiments that are never far below the surface. Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who spearheaded the GOP's Senate campaign and picked up four new seats, pandered to the worst race-baiting instincts of his minions, even instructing them that saving Indian sports mascots was a Republican mission.
Pres. Bush was put over the top by radical Christians in the South and Midwest, who include in their numbers those who may not be willing to die for their beliefs, but who have proven ready to kill doctors and women who don't share them. The Republican campaign strategists have unloosened some wing nuts and the Bush administration will have a hard time governing without the whole apparatus coming unhinged.
Native people should not depend on the good will of either the red or blue states. Even before the election, the governors of two of the so-called blue states, California and Minnesota, began behaving like extortionists, demanding their ''fair share'' of tribal gambling profits.
When did any states or non-Indians gain an entitlement to any Indian property? This notion of white privilege and Manifest Destiny was articulated by Pres. Ronald Reagan in this way: There was enough land here for everybody, but the Indians were greedy and didn't want to share.
This sense of entitlement is evident in the various efforts to wipe out the trust funds case by imposing a penny-on-the-hundred-dollar settlement on Indians whose property - actual cash, in this instance - has been withheld and used by the same federal government that has a duty to protect it and use it to benefit Native people.
The young people of the country are to be congratulated for turning out to vote in higher numbers than ever in U.S. history. The young and first-time voters, as well as the majority of Native, African-American and Hispanic voters almost elected Kerry. Many might be discouraged that their candidate did not prevail.
They should be encouraged that they were nearly successful, enough so to try it again in two years when the House and Senate majorities will be decided and in four years when the White House will await a new first family.