Wednesday, June 28, 2006

One Vote Away From Insanity

The fact that 66 United States senators voted to add a flag protection amendment to the Constitution ought to scare the hell out of anyone who still holds the slightest shred of hope that our elected officials are actually concerned about upholding their oath of office.

That would be the oath to support the Constitution. The oath has no codicil, no loophole along the lines of “unless I need to appease the superstitious yahoos who might vote against me in the next election.”

And yet 66 Senators--66 out of 100!--voted to start dismantling the document they’ve sworn to protect. Are they intellectually incapable of doing so, or are they just terrified of the yahoos?

Now, in today’s dishonest, cutthroat, and superficial campaign climate, it’s entirely possible that they’re terrified of some future political opponent twisting their “Nay” votes into a campaign issue. But there’s also a good counter-argument to that sort of sensationalism, if you can pull it off. Let’s say Senator Bob Fudknuckler of Iowa finds himself opposed in the next election by Candidate Steve Jingo, whose entire campaign is built on questioning the incumbent’s patriotism. Candidate Jingo might run a TV spot that says “My opponent Bob Fudknuckler voted against protecting Old Glory from the flag-burners. Why does he hate the flag? Does he want to see America burn, too?”

Fudknuckler’s response, then, would be something like this: “I voted to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy in order to help fight our growing deficit and make taxation fair for all Americans. I voted to raise the minimum wage so working families can have a fighting chance to get out of poverty and live the American dream. I voted for measures that would prevent corporations from sending jobs overseas and screwing the working man while lining their own pockets with the increased profits. I would ask my opponent which is more important to the future of this country: its people, or a symbol?”

Yeah, I’m an idealist. And I get a kick out of the name Fudknuckler.

But moving on. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah sponsored the flag amendment, and actually had the nerve to say the Senate had nothing more important to be concerned about. This is one of the most mind-bogglingly stupid things I’ve ever heard come out of someone’s mouth. You’re an elected official, Orrin, and you’ve been elected to make the country a better place than it was when you took office. If you consider protecting the flag more important than the economic well-being of your constituents, if you consider it more important than finding a way out of the quagmire in Iraq, if you consider it more important than protecting freedom itself, then in my opinion you aren’t qualified to do your job. I don’t believe you have the smarts.

Speaking of not having the smarts, the ever-quotable Bill Frist said the flag “is the single symbol that protects our liberty and freedom.” Really. I enjoy a good bit of anthropomorphizing now and then, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a flag enlist in the army. I’d like to know how a mere symbol protects anything at all.

One vote away, folks. I can’t imagine being so terrified every election year that you throw common sense to the wayside and spend a single minute on time-wasters like these.

Oh Wait, There’s More

+ By the way, it’s a little disingenuous for them to constantly refer to “the” flag, as if there were just the one in existence instead of the millions flying all over the place--most of them mass-produced in China, as I understand it.

+ Hillary Clinton, who just a few months ago sponsored legislation to criminalize flag-burning, voted against the amendment. I don’t know what to make of that, but I’ll give her probationary kudos.

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