Is the Trump Flag Banner the New Confederate Flag?
“With or without a second term for Donald J. Trump, American patriots are ready to fight, and they intend to ‘keep the republic.’ Buckle up.” — Frank Miele, RealClearPolitics, Dec. 7, 2020 “Election 2020: The Deplorables Aren’t Done Fighting.”
Miele’s quote fascinated me because it personified what I had seen two days earlier on Dec. 5 at a busy intersection in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Proudly waving extra-large Trump flags were a dozen burly-looking white guys with whom you did not want to disagree about anything. An enormous sign advertised Trump merchandise transforming the street corner into a MAGA occupied zone. Although I only heard one honking car horn, the flag-wavers were enjoying the attention. That is when I turned to my husband and asked, “Is Trump’s banner the new Confederate flag?”
Before you lash out, let me explain.
In the mid-to-late 20th century, the Confederate flag developed into a symbol of defiance against the status quo and less about the Civil War. Meanwhile, a common justification for displaying the flag was “heritage, not hate.” Nonetheless, anyone who wore Confederate apparel or flew the flag in the 21st century knew it was perceived as controversial and made a statement. (Whatever “statement” that happened to be.)
Then, within the last five years, with increased racial sensitivity sweeping the nation, the flag became viewed as undeniably racist. This year Mississippi became the final state to remove the war reference from its flag while the Pentagon banned it from military installations. Currently and thankfully, Confederate symbolism is rarely seen in public.
Enter the Trump 2020 campaign banner. Post-election, one could make the case that it has morphed into a new symbol of defiance against the status quo encompassing “patriotic” outrage against a “stolen” election. Furthermore, the banners help keep Trumpism alive while protesting President-elect Joe Biden taking office on January 20, 2021.
Let’s analyze this Trump banner-waving scene representing a national groundswell of anger, starting with a foundation of facts.
But first, for context, my own “fact” foundation. I am a long-time Republican, but in good conscience could not vote for either Trump or Biden since both disgusted me for vastly different reasons. Thus, I wrote in Vice President Mike Pence.
That said, driving by the MAGA intersection last Saturday, the presidential election is over one month old, and President-elect Joe Biden is busy announcing members of his cabinet.
President Trump easily and unexpectedly won his (and my) adopted home state of Florida by 3.3 percentage points, nearly tripling his 1.2 percentage point 2016 margin of victory.
Nationally, Trump won 74.2 million votes — more than any Republican presidential candidate in U.S. history. A stunning achievement with the president not only blowing past Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vote total of 65.8 million but four years later, increasing his own total of 62.9 million votes by 11.3 million! No doubt, some kind of mandate.
Trump also surpassed Barack Obama’s 2012 winning vote total of 65.9 million and his 2008 total of 69.4 million votes. For an extra energy boost, the banner-wavers would be thrilled to know that Trump also won 19.8 million more votes than GOP icon Ronald Reagan in his 1984 landslide when he won 54.5 million votes.
Yes, Trump’s 74.2 million votes are impressive, but he fell short of Joe Biden’s 81.2 million votes, the highest in American history. Accounting for the record-setting was voter participation at 66.7% of the electorate, compared to 56% in 2016.
Coincidentally, and a spear through the heart of Trump’s ego, is Biden won the same number of electoral votes, 306 to 232, that Trump won in 2016 and repeatedly called a “landslide.” (Note that in 2016 two “faithless electors” abandoned Trump, making 304 his final Electoral College total.)
Therefore, how does all this foundational data impact our Ft. Lauderdale Trump flag wavers? It confirms what they already know — hammered home by Trump, who says he “won” but was “robbed” in a “disgraceful” election that had to be “rigged” since he won a record number of votes.
And the hammering continues.
On Monday, the president said our election was “like a third-world country” while standing in the Oval Office. (Wrap your arms around that.)
On Tuesday, at a White House “summit” celebrating the vaccine effort, Trump again bragged about the previously stated presidential voting history and said, “…we won in those swing states, and there was terrible things that went on.” Even after losing all election legal challenges in court. Then, addressing his expectations for the Supreme Court to deliver him a victory, he said, “let’s see if they have the courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right.” However, later that evening, the Supreme Court rejected overturning Pennsylvania certifying that Biden won the state and its all-important 20 Electoral College votes.
Wednesday brought a “last ditch” effort lawsuit to the Supreme Court from the Texas attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton. He demands that the 62 total Electoral College votes in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin be invalidated. “The suit is absurd on its face” wrote Erick Erickson, a conservative Republican media personality and lawyer.
Yet, Trump is enthusiastic saying, “We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case,” Trump said. “This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!”
The Trump banner-waving crowd could represent a large portion of what the president said on Tuesday about the first and (since rejected)Supreme court case that, “everybody in this country knows is right.” Likely falling into that same group is what Frank Miele calls “American patriots” who are “ready to fight” intending to “keep the republic.” Armed with their Trump banner of defiance, anytime they want to do “battle,” all they have to do is show up on a busy street corner and wave away.
But the stage is set for more election-related violence, and Miele wrote, “buckle up” because the “deplorables aren’t done fighting.”
For example, hours after I saw the banner-wavers, halfway across the country, Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, reported, “armed protesters gathered outside her home on Saturday night ‘shouting obscenities and chanting into bullhorns in the dark of night.’ ”
Obviously, they were protesting the state’s election certification. The problem is Trump won only 47.8% of Michigan voters — slightly more than the 47.3% of votes he won in 2016 when he barely won the state by 0.3 percentage points.
Here is the most important “fact,” our enemies love these protesting “American patriots.” Adversaries worldwide relish seeing our once great and envied “beacon of democracy” — a symbol of peaceful governance and smooth transition of power — at war with itself.
When our commander-in-chief, with his cult-like hold on the “Trumpican” Party (formerly known as the Republican Party), is reportedly not planning to participate in the inauguration of his duly-elected successor, our enemies will celebrate. Sadly, it appears that Trump is psychologically incapable of admitting defeat even after his own government called the election “the most secure in American history.” Such demented behavior diminishes our national stature on the world stage.
Alternatively, America’s government could look even stronger and more resilient since a “smooth” transition of power happens, even without Trump physically present.
Yet, do “patriots” — and the vast majority of Republican leaders who remain silent — realize that supporting Trump’s attempts to personally intervene in trying to overturn state’s certified election results is the most unpatriotic act a president can undertake? Is Trump undermining who we are as a nation? Does Trump fear the “loser” label more than he loves America? Is this “strong” man so weak that he can not handle the tradition of attending the inauguration of the man who defeated him?
These are questions that need answers.
Soon and worse, we will see if Trump is narcissistic enough to potentially launch his 2024 reelection bid during Biden’s inauguration, guaranteeing him split-screen media attention. Will the Republican National Committee support such an event?
In the meantime, Trump banners are flying high in the Sunshine State. I see them everywhere, and it could be the new Confederate flag — a lasting and defiant symbol of Trump’s lost cause “stolen” reelection for which “American patriots are ready to fight.” But fight against what? An election process where the losing team does not like the outcome? Or an attempt to thwart Biden’s goal to unify the nation after winning an election that the federal government, states, and courts, have determined was free, fair, legal, and certified?
To satisfy the banner-waving patriots across the USA, I imagine a new Trump banner will soon be available (for a small fee plus all contact information) with the slogan: “Trump 2024 — Make Revenge Great Again.”