This is a real American flag. Why do I say it’s “real”? I make the distinction because most of the American flags you see now are, to borrow a phrase, “fake”.
I am not referring to where they were manufactured, I am referring to the reason they are flown.
When I fly my American flag, I am flying it as Marine Corps veteran who served under a president I could be proud of, Ronald Reagan. I served under a president who defiantly demanded “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”, not a president who says “Mr. Putin, that’s a tremendous offer, turning over to you our former ambassador to be interrogated by the FSB”.
When I fly the flag, I am thinking of the great institution of the American free press, of journalists like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who shined the light of truth on the Watergate story because the American people deserve to know the truth about the actions of their elected leaders. I am most definitely not thinking of an American president who uses the language of dictators in denouncing a free press. Facts are no less true because you don’t like them, Mr. President. Besides, if you want to find the source of the most fake news spreading today, you need look no further than the nearest mirror. That you whip crowds into such a fervor that they verbally assault reporters would be shameful for a small-town mayor; for a sitting U.S. president, it is unconscionable.
As a lifelong resident of the Motor City, I grew up confronted by “Buy American” bumper stickers. “Real Americans Buy American” always stuck with me because I’ve always thought that real Americans…buy whatever they want. And so did the Republican party, the party of my youth and young adulthood. I still believe in that old refrain I learned in graduate school: Free trade promotes world peace – You don’t declare war on your customers. Alas, the Republican Party, in this and so many other ways, is no longer the party it once was, and I can no longer be a party to it. It is true that I have changed some over the years, but not nearly as much as the party I once identified with. Today we have tariffs and socialist relief propping up the farmers hurt by retaliation to our tariffs. When I fly my flag, I think of an America that was able to stand its ground with anyone, anywhere.
The party of rugged individualism has given way to an ugly nationalism that bands thugs together in an “us versus them” mentality. Why? Because of an inexplicable cult of personality. People who should know better, people who do know better dare not cross this autocrat, lest the Tweet of death be pointed at them. What results is a man who from the bully pulpit has spewed over 4,000 lies in twenty months and has the nerve to attack those who dare fact-check him.
I thank God that my time in the military occurred under Ronald Reagan, for had it been under Donald Trump, I would have had to become a deserter, which would have still been more honorable than his military record. When I fly my flag, I am praying for an America, for a tradition that is now on life support and it is not clear that it can recover.