What’s the point in Stars and Stripes flying full staff anymore? What joy or pride is there in looking up at the American flag when it seems that each week it is lowered for this and that death, current or past? And knowing that over the last three decades or so, most of those deaths and sacrifices would turn out to be at the altar of dismal failure (except for those promoted or who profited in stock and US dollars).
One day the US flag is down by half in remembrance of September 11, 2001, another day it is downed for those murdered in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and yet another day for an ambassador killed in action in Libya, and yet another day for college students killed on a campus in Virginia. Inevitably it will be lowered for former presidents President George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter and who knows who else.
Just as torture has lost meaning in America, so has the American flag (and what it represents) lost its inspiration. Even the Bald Eagle, America’s Number One bird, had to be saved from American hunters, DDT and other pollutants (thanks to the US government).
The US Flag should remain at half-mast every day for all those who have died and or were wounded in the largely senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for all those unknown American soldiers dead/wounded in Foreign Internal Defense or Kill-Capture operations on the African Continent, the Philippines, Mexico and a host of other countries where the US attempts to secure its economic interests.
The American Flag should be packed away for a time because there is no United States of America. There are states in a sort of ad hoc union in these rough and tumble times in which American political, economic, cultural and military leadership ignores critical domestic issues and is quite happy to play abroad in the sandboxes of Africa and the Middle East while the Homeland burns. It is a leadership that watches as domestic unemployment grows, infrastructure collapses and public education is assaulted. Just as the flag is up one day and down the next, America’s leadership is this way on an issue on Tuesday and then that way on Wednesday. Why not lower the American Flag for those who will never find another job to pay the rent, or those 25 million children living in poverty.
American leadership’s excuse at the moment is the US Presidential Election (and what an excuse it always is!). No matter who sits in the Oval Office while getting America’s war on, in this case Barak Obama, American life is sacrificed for the sake of a Donkey—the Democratic Party and its donors. And if Romney were the president, he would sacrifice Americans for an elephant, the Republican Party and its donors. The difference between them is trivial. The choice is a “with us or against” one. Vote Republican or Democrat, the grand brains say. Not voting, they say, means the degradation of American democracy will be the common folks fault.
At this moment, Americans are waiting on an election that they think will magically change the theme from uncertainty and hard times to President Ronald Reagan’s mythical “Morning in America.” Of course, even that was all cartoonish. Reagan’s legacy was to teach politicians the world over how to act in front of the camera; stage the airport tarmac; market the message, not the person; and use slick propaganda techniques pushing form, not substance. This is what Reagan left behind for the politicians that followed him. His administration would begin the undercutting of the infrastructure of America to include “government” which, to Reagan and followers, was evil (tell the Bald Eagle that).
The interests of America are represented through the narrow prisms of Republican and Democratic interests, not the needs of the United States of America. It is the interests of the party that matters to Obama and his Democratic cronies. They will sprint whichever way the wind blows to get a second term in office. Romney and his Republican hustlers will do nearly anything (praying too) for a foreign or domestic disaster to bring Obama down.
The system of American government has nothing to do with protecting and defending the American people and their way of life (viewed by America’s leadership as “children” as Richard Nixon once eloquently said). Rather the goal is to protect and defend party, power, cash and bragging rights. Moreover, it is to preserve the electoral theater that America’s elite so love to create and participate in.
The day will come when Americans are required to vote or face a fine and public censure. The rush to the national security/surveillance society guarantees it. And the day is not far off when Americans have to register to own a computer and “drive” through the Internet to the World Wide Web. Just take the US government’s Cyber Security strategy and tactics to their logical conclusion: Isn’t the Internet/WWW as dangerous as a gun or bomb? Witness the fallout from the Mystery Science Theater candidate “Innocence of Muslims.” Protests at US embassies around the globe continue apace.
American political, economic, cultural and military leadership spend their lives in the midst of sycophants who ache for a position “that matters.” American leadership spends its time living in television studios, briefing rooms, gated communities and secure facilities. Their thoughts are hardly their own. Debates are staged and negotiated.
American leadership is dangerously out of touch with the world as it is down in the dirt and in the unearthly confines of the Internet/World Wide Web. Much of America, and the world, can operate in both worlds. America’s leaders do not have that ability.
Voting or not, Americans should keep the US flag and Bald Eagle in mind.
John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security matters. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.