We must acknowledge that the resistance to a Trump administration is not about advancing a liberal agenda, but an American one.
ON the Fourth of July, as on most days, I will put up an American flag outside my house. As a veteran and a former U.S. diplomat, I cherish this enduring symbol of our shared American values. And as one of the many horrified by the administration currently occupying the White House, I know that it is left to us in the resistance to defend our flag these days.
It’s a realization that many in Seattle, where I live, are also starting to embrace. As in most liberal cities, many of my neighbors have learned to see those stars and stripes as a coded message of conservative values or a salute to a militarization of society they don’t entirely embrace. They have in the past kept the flag at arm’s length.
But nowadays, many of the same people who have found my flag-flying confounding are taking to the streets and to the offices of their representatives to defend what our flag stands for. While the administration attempts to tear down our most closely held beliefs, those of us standing in opposition demand that the ideals of our democracy be upheld: We fight for rule of law, for justice and liberty, for inalienable rights and the maintenance of our popular sovereignty.
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Many of those flag skeptics among us now recognize that patriotism is not a matter of party or policy positions, but of love for the republic we all share.
After all, love of country should not be a partisan issue. As fired FBI Director James Comey emphasized while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee recently, the threat Russia represents to our core values is “not about Republicans or Democrats.” The urgency of this issue was clear in his voice: “They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally.”
Yet it isn’t clear that all Americans do in fact love our country these days. Notably, Trump supporters and the Republicans in Congress have left it to their opponents — to those of us who too often in the past have not understood what patriotism was good for — to call for the upholding of the Constitution, for the defense of our system’s integrity in the face of enemy incursion, for resisting would-be tyranny.
These are people conveniently incurious about the administration’s ubiquitous ties and baldfaced obsequiousness to one of our mortal enemies. They look straight past the president’s evident constitutional violations as he enriches himself from his office, declining to call for any transparency despite obvious questions about whom he is beholden to.
This is anti-American behavior. And that is why we must acknowledge that the resistance is not about advancing a liberal agenda, but an American one. It’s vital to realize that all of us — from the most liberal to the most conservative — are in danger of losing everything if Trump and his team are allowed to clamp down on civil liberties, gut voter rolls to hollow out meaningful democracy, and turn the presidency into a Russian-oligarch-linked cash machine.
That is why, if we are doing this right, the resistance will be vocal about its focus on our country’s core values. And we will embrace our flag as the marker of our proud and strong heritage. It is the emblem of ideals that serve as a bulwark against darkness and inspire people around the globe.
Those of us fighting for light now have a unique opportunity to reclaim this powerful symbol and to become the new standard-bearers of American patriotism. Doing so will make us firmer in our resolve to resist and will allow us to expand the tent of our resistance.
So this Independence Day — and every day after — let’s embrace the flag. Our flag. Let every protest be slathered in red, white and blue, with Old Glory fluttering overhead.