A Modest Proposal for the 4th: Take Back Old Glory

In Dr. Seuss's The Sneetches, there were two kinds of these odd beach-dwelling creatures -- those with stars on their bellies and those without. The ones with the stars saw themselves as inherently superior:

When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts

Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,

They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches.

They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.

Then along came a stranger, one Sylvester McMonkey McBean, who had a contraption that applied -- for a price -- stars to the bellies of the decoratively challenged:

Then they yelled at the ones who had stars at the start,

"We're exactly like you! You can't tell us apart.

We're all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties!

And now we can go to your frankfurter parties."

Then the snobby Sneetches had their stars removed -- yes, McBean's machine could do that, too -- and starlessness became the coin of the realm, after which it all descended into on-again-off-again chaos until it was impossible to keep track of who'd been who and they decided to just all get along as equals -- albeit impoverished equals, as they'd given all of their money to the con man who'd repeatedly applied and removed their stars.

But enough, for now, about Sneetches.

Of all the stupid things done by the anti-war crowd, the most gratuitously moronic was allowing the sanctimonious hypocrites of the right to co-opt the nation's most basic icon, its flag. The emblem of the country's highest aspirations was mindlessly ceded to the holier-than-thou zealots who used it as a bludgeon against the less fanatical.

Having unburdened itself of patriotism, the left proceeded over the years to also give away religion, national security and, finally, the elections themselves, but this devolution, into the pathetic puddle of unprincipled, acquiescent wimpiness that the Democrats have become, started with -- or rather, without -- the flag. It's hard to remember a presidential election in which that cavalier surrender hasn't exacted a serious price.

Eventually the lapel was established as the battlefield, and the degree of one's patriotic fervor is now presumed based on whether or not said lapel sports a flag pin. The flag pin wearer clearly loves his country -- for Christ's sake, he's wearing its flag! -- and as for the flagless, well, one can only wonder why they hate America so much that they won't allow its proudest symbol on their persons.

Republicans love to demagogue the flag, and this year that and fear-mongering are all they have. The presence or absence of the mini-Stars 'N' Stripes has the potential to erupt into a weeks-long October distraction, with the contemptible castrata of the media not just providing the stage but also trilling in the chorus. But we can prevent it, and so easily that there's really no excuse not to.

All of the conventional political wisdom of decades is mere rubble in the wake of the Bush-Cheney catastrophes. Whether or not they have health insurance or can afford the gas to drive to their jobs is more important to many past "values" voters than whether or not homosexual couples can call their unions "marriage." Significant numbers of previously intolerant evangelicals are now focusing on saving the earth instead of merely hating hordes of its occupants. Formerly dark red states are purple and may well turn blue. The right is reeling, they can't find a single thing to point to that's better than it was before Bush, so while they're busy dealing with issues of basic survival, let's just slip in there and take back the damn flag. Take it back from the war criminals and their apologists and enablers that have wrapped themselves in it even as they've been methodically destroying the republic for which it stands.

Barack Obama, who earlier took some flack for his empty lapel, is on the cover of the latest Rolling Stone with flag pin gleaming. We should follow his lead. Everyone who's voting for Obama -- and especially those who are public figures (i.e. Keith Olbermann, Jack Cafferty, Rachel Maddow) must immediately procure a flag pin and not be seen without it before November 5th. If you can't do it with pride, do it as an act of subversion.

When everyone's wearing the flag it will be neutralized. It will cease to provide cover, and then all those with a need to display their moral superiority will have to find a new symbol to set them apart. A new image to mount on a pin and attach to fabric that says, "I am, in my essence, better than you."

I suggest the Star-Belly Sneetch.