Oxidation happens when elements cause metals to corrode. The color of oxidation is red.
Tuesday night was a red night, but not the Election-Night red of previous presidential races. It was the orange-ish red of a loud outsider who has a mandate today that nobody knows, most particularly the Electoral College victor.
It was an evening of protest and rust – the protest against what has been, the rust of a frustrated heartland.
The hue that won Tuesday night was that of hands rubbed raw from waiting for something to happen in Washington.
Something has happened, the result of which nobody knows, most particularly the president-elect.
Here's what we know: Stagnation is not good politics. The Democrats didn't offer the solution to stagnation that a plurality of Americans wanted to hear.
Hillary Clinton has served her country well, and with extreme dignity. But she carried a brand that lost its appeal on the consignment rack.
The Republican Party? It lost this election just as surely as the Democrats did. In the ideological vacuum now ensuing, it has its own branding problem.
Donald Trump is soon to become the first third-party president, a protest-vote president. Believe it. But believe this, too: His ascendance is as much a repudiation of the red team as the blue team.
Speaking of third parties: I'm wondering if any progressive voter who lodged a "protest" third-party vote in Wisconsin or Michigan wants a mulligan today.
If those progressives believed that it's OK to "blow it all up," they might find a foxhole for what is about to happen regarding health care, social justice, climate activism and more.
To millennials who found other things to do on Election Day: It's going to be a few days and nights before you have a chance to matter again.
Votes matter. Elections are won at the margins. Every one of them, even landslides. Turnout matters -- every time.
What was that about rust? Yes, there's a lot of it in an economy mostly focused on bigness. The blue-collar vote did not go to the blues, and let's face it, too few things have happened over the last 20 years to motivate blue-collar voters to hold to any major party's script.
One thing that should have been construed as benefiting those working sorts is the Affordable Care Act -- millions gaining health insurance that an economy focused on bigness would never permit.
Now we see if Trump is going to tell those recently insured Americans to, um, take a flying leap.
Yes, red was the color of the night, because, at the margins, the man in the red ball cap played the anger card better than his opponent played the unity card.
Once again, however, the Republicans are not coming out of this as true victors.
The innards of the GOP are still squeezed by the religious right and corporations. GOP leaders are no more interested in making this a more just and unified nation than before. They are interested in keeping the very divisions by which power can be maintained. It's a proven model. Look at the unrepresentative creation we call the U.S. House of Representatives.
Divisions: They couldn't be more acute, and we just elected the very opposite of a unifier.
Speaking of chemical reactions: Those entrusted with responsible leadership would be wise to note that oxidation's ultimate manifestation is flame.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.