President-elect Donald Trump suggests that it ought to be illegal to burn the American flag and that people who do should perhaps be jailed and even lose their citizenship. I guess he tweeted this. That is how he incites things. It can work at least two ways: one he can distract attention away from other issues, such as his conflict of interest in his business holdings he has thus far refused to get his hands off of, even as he gets ready to assume the office of the most powerful person in the world — a myriad of decisions he might make could be affected by how good they are for his bottom line. Two: he tweets maybe to — and speaking of flags — run things up the flagpole, test the waters of public opinion.
Another sneaky thing he seems to be doing is sending out his campaign manager now special aide Kellyanne Conway to criticize her own boss in public, chastising him for even considering Mitt Romney for a cabinet post (Secretary of State it has been suggested) when Romney refused to endorse Trump and even called Trump a “phony”. But now the word is that Conway got the okay from Trump himself to criticize Trump himself.
In using the new technology of twitter, Trump really in a way is just using the old tool of some past presidents, the bully pulpit — going around congress (or the establishment; I know he is not president yet) and directly to the people and even around the press.
That’s another thing. Trump has discovered that in this new cyber world, the established or mainstream press no longer has a lock on the news or dissemination of information. In fact, this past presidential campaign has proven the press can be distracted or almost held at bay by being forced to lap up everything a candidate says in daily tweets or one liners on the campaign trail.
Trump also was able to use his celebrity as a distraction to save having to actually go into any detail on substantive issues.
This is not good. This is just fact. But then again, it is really up to the consumer of news to be discriminating and turn away from the simplicity of tweets or news coverage as celebrity coverage and seek out sources with some established credibility.
And back to the flag burning issue. This is a distraction. On a scale of one to ten, flag burning should be pretty low. Would I burn the American flag in protest? No. Do I think it is proper to do so? No. Do I think people ought to be punished for doing so? No. For one thing the Supreme Court has held it is protected under freedom of expression. I can accept that, even if I would not choose to use that form of expression. For another thing, don’t we have more pressing issues at this time?
Not necessarily in this order, but: The economy, terrorism, health care (must we be in limbo about where we are to get our coverage? we only live once for a limited time), wars in the Middle East, climate change (only flat earthers can think it is a hoax), and the list goes on, with flag burning way down near the bottom I would think. I mean how often do you encounter it?
But Trump no doubt sees flag burning as a handy hot-button issue or wedge issue to manipulate people and use people by having them fight among one another, all the better to distract from his own plans or lack thereof.
On the other hand, Trump and anyone who is opposed to allowing the protest burning of the American flag can be sincere. It is said that Richard Nixon was incensed and puzzled at anti-Vientnam War protestors. He had grown up thinking that one supported his own country and had served honorably in World War II in the pacific theater. I can’t say what was in his head, but I am fairly sure he supported the First Amendment and its protections of free speech but probably thought one could express dissatisfaction without degrading the very symbol of the nation in which we live and that is considered the leading democracy in the world.
In his presidential campaigning Nixon used what was called the concept of the silent majority, who were supposedly the god fearing, patriotic working people against the rabble of college students and draft dodgers. And in reality it was a culture change too, in which young people didn’t just automatically go to war because if their country called them it must be just.
(But people don’t always fit into nice neat categories and those war protestors and flag burners had parents, many of whom might have been classified as being part of the silent majority. Eventually that majority agreed with the protestors — except maybe for the flag burning.)
Whatever, Trump has successfully tapped into Nixon’s silent majority. And he has also picked up the so-called “white nationalists” (KKK, neo-nazis, ect.). I don’t lump the latter in with my perception of the silent majority, but the two are sometimes hard to completely separate, some of those prejudices seep upward into the higher classes or maybe they go both ways.
Before the Trump victory, I like so many others assumed the Democrats would win but I thought even if it looked as if the Republican Party had self-destructed it would come back from near death and rise again. Well, of course the situation is reversed.
We need rival political parties. I wished we had more than two but we at least need two major parties.
I’m not even sure Trump is mentally stable. If not, he would not be the first American president to be considered a little bonkers . But let’s hope people around him can keep some kind of stability and let’s hope the Democratic Party can find itself. Abandoning people who had supported it in the past did not work.