Thursday, March 6, 2008

Symbols of Patriotism

Barrack Obama's patriotism has been questioned because he doesn't wear an American flag on his lapel. In October, he said that the flag had "become a substitute for true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues of importance to our national security." The American flag is not a political symbol. But increasingly, that is what it has become. It may be precisely because Obama understands the power of the flag's symbolism--and its politicization, that he stopped wearing it.

Misuse of the flag has been on the increase in advertising and in politics. It started in the Reagan years and Republicans have managed to brand it as theirs. "Support our troops" ribbons and flags seem to be code for "support our commander in chief." If you don't support the commander, then you don't support the troops, or the flag. And that means you must be unpatriotic. It's part of the "if you're not for us, you're against us" attitude that has caused such deep division in the country.

Democrats could dilute its power as an icon for the right by reclaiming the flag and making it a symbol for the UNITED States, and not one ideology. In a nation so fractured politically, maybe some common ground can be found in the flag as a shared symbol.

Could it be that Obama reveres the flag so deeply that he cannot bear to see it used as a symbol of anything less than a great nation? Maybe he has more respect for the flag than some of the "patriots" waving it.

Copyright 2008, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.

No comments: