Wilber Esoterica Alert: if you haven’t read any of Wilber or Graves, you may not understand the following. Check some of the links to the right (especially Spiral Dynamics). I think it’s fascinating stuff, but if you don’t like it, ignore this.
In the spiral dynamics documents I have read, all the memes through green are described by example. And once you grasp the concepts, it’s easy: I can’t think of John Ashcroft without thinking “blue meme.”
But second-tier memes are described in qualitative terms that can be a little hard to grasp. The reason given is that they are still emerging, and there aren’t many examples of them yet to point to.
I suppose that’s true, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t historical examples. Green meme may be easy to find today, but we can see it in Thoreau’s writing over a century ago.
There is one other reason second-tier memes may be a little hard to find in the past. They will tend to camouflage themselves, appearing orange in a blue-orange context, or orange-green in an orange milieu. They willl not stand out as themselves, but will appear only as subtle variations, moving the action forward.
For example, I suspect Thomas Jefferson had some yellow-meme mastery. He probably operated in a blue or blue-orange social environment, but his impact was distincty orange. As I understand it (and I’m no Jefferson scholar), he was described as saying what he had to say to persuade any audience, to the point of being known as manipulative.
I’ve had a long debate with myself as to whether Abraham Lincoln brought some yellow meme to bear. In fact, I’ve been toying with the idea of stereotypical professions among the memes: red-soldier, blue-cop, orange-scientist, green-activist… perhaps yellow-politician. To really master politics, you have to master the yellow meme. Dealing with diferent contituencies, playing different emotional chords, bringing appropriate mindsets to particular situations. Finding the right aspect of yourself to resonate with those around you, and move things on up the spiral. These seem to me to be aspects of yellow.