This is an excellent essay from Mark Evanier about the silliness of presidential politics. I can tell you right now, I’m voting for Obama for president and I obviously expect him to win the nomination.
The worst thing some people can find to say about Barack Obama these days is that there’s something wrong with his patriotism, as proven by the fact that he doesn’t wear an American flag pin on his lapel. This is three notches below Ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with wearing one of those pins but a gesture that small should never be confused with actually doing something meaningful. It’s like the folks who, after 9/11, spent three dollars for a plastic flag, stuck it on their cars and then acted like they’d made a substantive contribution to The War on Terror. Putting a flag on your car or your coat is just about the dictionary definition of The Least You Can Do.
Actually, I say there’s nothing wrong with it but I have to admit that when I see one of those pins on someone’s lapel, it makes me suspicious of their patriotism. The first thing I think of is how Richard Nixon’s crew made a premeditated effort to equate the wearing of a flag pin with support for Richard Nixon. They were really selling the idea that being a good American and backing Nixon were one and the same thing, and the flag could therefore denote both. I thought it showed zero respect for the flag to use it to promote one person or party. The flag belongs equally to everyone.
And the second thing I think of is something my father told me. He worked (reluctantly) for the Internal Revenue Service and he dealt with a steady stream of very wealthy people who were doing everything in their power — much of it quite illegal — to not pay anything resembling their fair share of taxes to the government. This was during the Vietnam Era and some of these were prominent men who were quite vocal that the U.S. had to spend every nickel necessary to build every conceivable weapon with which to defeat the Dirty Commies…but God Forbid it should be their nickels. Every one of these people, he said, had an American flag in their lapel and thought that the mere wearing of it made them a Good American.
Is Barack Obama a Good American? He’s just like anyone else. If he genuinely defends the Constitution and the principles on which this nation was founded and is willing to sacrifice for those principles then he’s a good American, regardless of what’s in his buttonhole. And if he works against those principles, he’s not…and it wouldn’t matter if he had a flag, the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, Plymouth Rock and John Wayne on his lapel.