Monday, January 30, 2017

First, The Movement Needs a Flag

The T Party movement was all about marketing.  It's central message made no sense, really: That government is best which governs least, or not at all. That may have made sense to Jefferson, who saw America as an eternally bucolic nation, peopled by families on farms, honest working people living as he did on Monticello. But in a continental nation of 300 million, we actually need a functioning government. And we have to sell that notion.

Our Flag

Their Flag

Actually, Donald Trump has signed on to the idea of an activist government; it's just his idea of what a government should do is puerile: A government should make deals with each and every company with a factory and then it should build walls around the continent and make sure that the factory workers are put back to work building the same air conditioners and automobiles they've always made and sell those to their countrymen without competition from the higher tech models made by robots in China.

In that sense, Trump is no different from the plantation owners of the ante Bellum South, who thought they could freeze time.
As Bruce Catton observed, the slave owners in Georgia were unable to face reality.

In the 1860s the leaders of the cotton belt made one of the most prodigious miscalculations in recorded history. On the eve of the era of applied technologies, in which more and more work is done with fewer people and less effort, they made war to preserve the day of chattel slavery - the era of gang labor, with its reliance on the same use of human muscles that built the pyramids. The lost cause was lost before it started to fight. Inability to see what is going on in the world can be costly.” 

President Trump has no firmer grip on reality today.

But to oppose him, we need a carnival, to appeal to those who need that. Remember the T party clowns in their three cornered hats?  They were waving those splendid yellow flags, expropriated from the American Revolution. Symbols can be useful, potent even.  You can put them on bumper stickers and T shirts and rally the troops around them.
Here's the flag

I like the statue of Liberty flag--wave that around to remind people we are a nation of immigrants, and there's that poem at its base--give me your tired, your poor--and all that. And rally round. Mother of exiles, lifts her lamp beside the golden door.
Can't you see it?
Let's start with a flag, and maybe some of those foam rubber head bands and we can march.

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