One of the saddest developments of the national crisis is that we’ve come to identify the American flag with the far right, and assume that residents of houses flying the flag must be Trump supporters. It’s hardly new that the far right believes they are more American than liberals. Calling opponents “Un-American” was a favorite weapon of the Cold War—Joe McCarthy’s standard accusation. But it’s time to take note that Levitsky and Ziblatt, in How Democracies Die, call referring to opponents as the enemy is the first sign of a dying democracy.
The rest of us snorted or ignored the accusation and the flag-flying that went with it, but it’s high time to rethink our complacency. Our institutions no longer look so ironclad. The rhetoric of the far right has become the rhetoric of the Republican Party, and in the coming midterm elections the GOP may well sweep both the House of Representatives and state legislatures into power as it has the Supreme Court.
But not yet. There are signs that Trump’s power block is cracking, that leaders are pulling away, that Trump himself may be called to account, and that the Court overstepped in reversing Roe versus Wade. Ukraine is doing the impossible—driving Russia back home. Congress is actually passing important legislation, breaking a twenty year deadlock.
There’s hope, and we need to shake off our helplessness and act. Our lack of response has become a concession that the flag-fliers are the patriots. I have no idea, anymore, how to solve the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, other than to take advantage of whatever the situation offers and make my presence known, however I can.
Our flag now hangs out front. A new flag, actually. The old one flew for forty years and gave up the ghost. Old or new, the message is the same: “This is not just your flag, it is ours—all of ours.” As the election nears, please join us. Share this blog, spread the word. As campaign signs begin to decorate lawns —
Fly Your Flag!