Patriotism is Red, White & Blue, not Blue vs. Red

I’m takin’ the American flag back.

For years, the “Grand Old Party” has been wrapping itself in Old Glory as if it has a stronger claim to patriotism, with the flag as its symbol, than anyone else.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, many non-Republican Americans have come to accept that, if not believe it. And somehow, somewhere along the way, people started equating those misguided perceptions with the idea that support for active-duty military personnel and veterans is wrapped up in the same narrative.

I’ve had more than enough of the suggestion that the flag serves or represents one party or ideology or citizen any more than any other party or ideology or citizen.

Truth – Every citizen of the U.S.A. has equal claim to The Stars and Stripes.

So I’m takin’ the American flag back.

They’ve Done Studies

A study by psychology professors from the University of Chicago, Cornell University and Hebrew University found that “A Single Exposure to the American Flag Shifts Support Toward Republicanism up to 8 Months Later.”

In the abstract of their study, published in Psychological Science in 2011, the authors wrote:

“… a brief exposure to the American flag led to a shift toward Republican beliefs, attitudes, and voting behavior among both Republican and Democratic participants, despite their overwhelming belief that exposure to the flag would not influence their behavior….”

In the “popular” press, you’ll still find stories with headlines like this –

Author at The People's March in Fargo, N.D.
My wife, my mother-in-law and me at The People’s March in 2017.

What is this all about?

Why is it that whenever I used to drive by a house displaying the flag year-round, not just on holidays, my inadvertent thought was, “Oh, a Republican must live there.”

Why do people associate The Red, White and Blue with being a red?

No doubt there are deep, consequential and historical reasons.

But I think when you get right down to the nuts and bolts of identifying with the flag, the GOP’s hold on it is the result of liberals and progressives standing by and letting it happen.

I Am a Patriotic American

I wrote about being a patriotic American, and what I believe allows me to make the claim, on Independence Day.

If you’re a law-abiding U.S. citizen, it doesn’t matter how you feel or what you think of our national symbol. One of the many beauties our nation is that we’re all correct; one citizen does not have the right to define what patriotism or Old Glory should mean to any other citizen.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a conservative, liberal, progressive, Constitutionalist, Democrat, Democratic Socialist, Green, Libertarian, Modern Whig or a member of any other party – we all can be as patriotic as anyone else. And per the U.S. Constitution, we have the right to express that patriotism in any way we choose, as long as we don’t harm anyone else.

The American Flag and the American Military

And it’s not just about The Red, White and Blue. It’s about camo, too.

Somehow the Republican party, in comparison to the Democrats, has become known as the party that supports U.S. military personnel and veterans more.

What a bunch of hooey.

Image of people rallying during March for Democracy, Fargo, N.D.
North Dakota citizens rally for the passage of North Dakota Measure #1 during the March for Democracy in Fargo, N.D. on 11/4/18. Martin Fredricks is waving the American Flag.

The likelihood of a person supporting active military personnel or veterans has nothing to do with party affiliation. Obviously, Democrats and people with a plethora of affiliations and beliefs have served, honorably, in our armed forces.

I’ve never served, but my father and grandfather did. I honor their service, as I do that of any other veteran. I also wholeheartedly support our active-duty military personnel. I have utmost respect for anyone who puts on a U.S. uniform, defends our nation and is willing to lay down their life for it if necessary.

Contrary to what some people would have you believe, it is not disingenuous to feel that way and still question military spending, weapons buildups and attacks on other nations.


Fellow progressives, as well as liberals, Democrats and members of other parties, I ask you:

What’s wrong with us? Why do we passively relinquish to the GOP our rightful claim to our flag, patriotism and the perception of support for our brothers and sisters who serve in the military?

Let’s not do it, anymore.

Martin C. Fredricks IV holding a U.S. flag during a rally for U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

Our gatherings, protests and rallies should be awash in American flags, too.

That’s why, since I began rabble-rousing about this a couple of years ago, I’ve made a point of carrying the American flag to events.

In 2017 it was The People’s March. I demonstrated for science and the absolute need for immediate action on climate change, waving the flag along the way. I was the only one. Yesterday I attended a political rally for a candidate and held Old Glory proudly over my head. Again, I was the only one.

Shouldn’t be that way.

The flag is a symbol of American individuality, strength and power to overcome. Not all that long ago it symbolized American unity, too. It’s mine, it’s yours, it’s ours.

So get out there. Gather, protest, speak up and – for the sake of all that is good about the United States of America – take Old Glory with you.

I’m takin’ the American flag back. Who’s with me?

Graphic - Copyright 2018 Martin C. Fredricks IV

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Harry. As I wrote in an earlier post, “I Am a Patriotic American”, I honor the American flag and what it symbolizes. And because I do, I’ll fight for every U.S. citizen’s right to drape themselves in it, wear it on caps and T-shirts, put it on pottery and, in the extreme, burn it in protest if they feel they must.

Let me know what you think!