Updated: Aug 10
Contributed by Suzanne Mead
The American flag, beacon of hope, prosperity, bravery, and freedom, is no longer a shared vision. For many years, the Republican Party has appropriated the flag for its own partisan purposes. They have colored it black and blue, turned it upside down, worn it, and wrapped themselves around it—all to polish their often hateful and autocratic agendas with a veneer of Godly patriotism.
This week, singer songwriter Macy Gray wrote in MarketWatch that the flag needed a redo, that it has been “hijacked as a code for a specific belief” and is “dated, divisive, and incorrect.”
Well, not so fast. It’s time to revisit the values embodied by our flag. Does it represent a union of states dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights? A nation founded on principles of equity, representative government, and freedom from tyranny? A symbol of the heroism and sacrifice of the millions of troops and civilians who have fought so that our democracy could survive? Most would say it does and that it is a symbol that belongs to all Americans.
That we have not always fulfilled these lofty goals (slavery, Jim Crow, Indian resettlement, Japanese internment, disenfranchisement of women, LGBTQ and other minorities), does not diminish their importance to our democracy or our desire to honor the flag’s iconic status.
As our democracy has come under fire, starting with Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, climaxing with the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and continuing in Arizona and other states in the form of voter suppression and conspiracy-fueled forensic audits, the flag is front and center.
The flag as the emblem of choice for revolutionaries is not new. Embracing our flag has yet again become a cultural war cry. Anti-Vietnam war protestors burned it, Colin Kaepernick kneeled in protest before it, Trump mobs bathed in a sea of them. They brandished it as a weapon of war against the Capitol police who protected Congress against the violent horde of so-called “patriots” on Jan. 6.
The flag has become shorthand for “I am more patriotic than you.” One HOA in Carefree almost came to blows over it. Responding to a proposal to mount a flagpole at the entrance to the development, residents cited the unfortunate state of partisanship in the country that cast the flying of the flag as a fraught political statement. The dispute got so heated that opponents of the project were labeled traitors and told to leave the country. More rational minds prevailed, many of them veterans, arguing that while the flag deserved respect, it should not be used as a cudgel by pro-Trump forces against his opponents—their neighbors. Ultimately, the project failed.
LD1 Democrats and Black Mountain Dems and Friends want to reclaim the flag. We flew it proudly on election day 2020 and we will continue to push for its return as a core symbol of our values and our democracy.
We are interested in hearing from you. Tell us what the flag means to you. We will share your responses on July 4 in our special Fourth of July edition of the LD1 Dems newsletter.
Respond prior to June 25 by using the contact form at the bottom of our website.