A few (last) thoughts about politics (at least for a while)

We are all pretty much sick of politics, I think. At least I am, but I have been for quite some time, since Y2K, in fact. The shenanigans of those who govern us, from county commissioners to Senators, are as entertaining as they are disturbing. Altruism is not a common trait in the halls of government, while self-service and acrimony are.

There is good news, though. Q-Anon is fading. Their prophecies have proven false and their proselytizing for belief in the “deep state” is waning quickly. It’s hard to hold up an idea that has shown itself unbelievable in so many ways, though some continue to cling to the Cabal theory. It’s easier, evidently, to stay in denial than to change a mind. The continued presence of Trump flags and the ever-so-subtle “F**k Biden” banners are evidence of that.

My “favorite,” if I had to have one, would be the one that says, “Don’t blame me, I voted for Trump.” The sentiment is confusing and conflicted, as is Trump himself. Under the premise of the statement, there is really nothing to blame that person for. Unless they voted for Trump in 2016. Which they probably did.

There’s another flag that confuses me as well, the Gadsden Flag, the yellow one with the rattlesnake and the “Don’t Tread On Me” slogan. It’s original intent as a symbol of the American Revolution was actually inspired in part by Benjamin Franklin’s thought that it would be suitable to answer England’s policy of sending convicts to the colonies by sending rattlesnakes to England, and particularly to the homes and gardens of those who made the rules. It has now come to represent the alt-right in many cases, just beyond half way toward the top on the right side of the circle representing the spectrum of political thought.

I learned about the circle in Mr. Anderson’s government class long, long ago. It begins at the bottom with centrism, neither too far left or right. When I was in Mr. Anderson’s classroom, the low point of the circle was an appropriate place for centrism, for the great weight of Americans were moderates. Republican or Democrat, they were still moderates.

Republican or Democrat, they still got together and played pinochle on Saturday nights and knew how to civilly discuss just about everything except sex education and religion. To the left of that bottom point is liberalism and to the right is conservatism. The portion of the circle representing moderate thinking is about 40 percent, 20 percent on each side of that bottom point. Then, the ideas represented begin to deviate far enough from center to be thought by some to be unconventional or slightly strange. That occupies another 20 percent of the circle, 10 percent on each side. Then, we get to the really interesting stuff.

There are many much more complicated representations of the political spectrum out there, but the diagram I found that most resembles Mr. Anderson’s example has “Lunatic Fringe” at the top. Soviet- and Chinese-style communism is just to the left and Hitleresque fascism on the right. In both cases, the methods of rule include suspension of rights of many; destruction of millions of innocents; and extreme cruelty, blind obedience and rampant paranoia within the ranks of leadership.

On the way to those totalitarian ideals, sides of the circle are tracked from the moderate lower middle point, to “radical” on the left; “reactionary” on the right. In their truest form, radicals and reactionaries are noisy, prone to violence, incorrigibly convinced of the virtue of their cause and nearly indistinguishable, except for their loathing of each other. The left and right merge at anarchy, the state reached temporarily on January 6 in Washington — a great example of the doings of the lunatic fringe.

Which brings me to wonder about that yellow flag. It may be time to rethink it as a symbol of freedom. Rattlesnakes aren’t inherently cruel, but they are extremely paranoid. The least provocation gets them ready to kill. Comes of having no legs, I guess. They are also don’t hear well, lacking ears, as do most snakes. They track by vision and heat sensing. In many senses, they are not very free, except to be rattlesnakes. Then there is the color. Yellow is a warning color, but it is also associated with cowardice. So, before you get a Gadsden flag, you may wish to consider what you are saying when you fly it.

The symbol of freedom that I prefer is Old Glory. Though it sometimes feels like the very conservative have tried to co-opt it, it belongs to all who live in this country. According to custom and tradition, red symbolizes hardiness and valor; white, purity and innocence; and blue, vigilance, perseverance, and justice. Hooray for the red, white and blue!

As a nation, we have not always lived up to those colors, but many times, we have. And we still have opportunities each day to do so, as well as honor our charters in the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. It is the moderates, the centrists, who have done the best job of that, and that is still where our best hope lies.

As we approach the 245th birthday of the United States, we remain united. I’m flying our flag, and I urge the rest of you moderates to do so as well.

Sandy Compton grew up at Heron and has spent the great majority of his life on the place his grandparents moved onto in 1917. He is the publisher and owner of Blue Creek Press in Heron. His latest book, The Dog With His Head On Sideways, is available at The Ledger office in Thompson Falls, online at bluecreekpress.com/books, and on Amazon.