Saturday, April 19, 2008

Form Over Substance: Flag Lapel Pins

As everyone knows who reads here with any regularity, I don't usually comment on US politics. At one time, I was extremely political and enjoyed getting involved in the fray; watching, listening, supporting, signing petitions, demonstrating ~ all of it was a fairly significant part of my life. During election results, each TV in the house was set to a different station so I could watch and be right on top of the incoming results.

Since then, I've gone in a different direction. My focus is more global and spiritual now.

Still, if I was going to get involved in politics again, I would support Barack Obama.

But I was drawn in this morning when I heard Mike Gallagher's talk radio show. I'm a talk radio addict and listen to all points of view ~ from Amy Goodman to Mike Gallagher and Michael Reagan. If they're talking, I'll listen.

The discussion involved Barack Obama's "refusal" to wear a flag lapel pin. Remember those little flag pins that sprouted like weeds after a spring storm in the aftermath of 9/11? They were for sale everywhere and everyone seemed to be wearing them. They were a symbol of solidarity more than nationalism. When it comes to things that make people feel a sense of community, I'm all behind it.

After several months though, they were co-opted by arch-conservatives and it became not a symbol of solidarity but a symbol of support for the current administration. Bush, Cheney and all his compatriots could be seen wearing them. Endlessly.

Barack Obama never "refused" to wear one. A few days ago, he wore one that was given to him by a veteran in the audience. Obama wore it as any gracious person would have done ~ as a sign of respect to the veteran ~ but didn't continue after that particular appearance.

The talk show pundits are twisting the truth to say that six months ago, he "refused" and since he "refused", the fact that he did it a few days ago makes him a liar.

The truth of the matter is that six months ago, he simply said that he would not be wearing one on the campaign, that he would prefer to show his patriotism by presenting solutions to US problems.

How that can be twisted into evidence of his "lying" and "refusing" to go along with a truly petty and minor symbol of patriotism in the larger scheme of things is beyond me.

This is a perfect example of form over substance that has become such an integral part of everything in US culture, not just the presidential campaigns.

It leads me to wonder how long people will put up with it. When is someone going to start speaking up about these petty smear tactics and yell, if necessary, "who gives a rat's ***!"

Quite honestly, that was my reaction.

These cultural attributes continue on because people allow it.

I'd like to hear solid solutions to the high unemployment rate, to the housing trouble, the economic inequality, the lack of affordable health care and the lack of affordability of a college education. I'd like to hear about foreign policy and how each candidate will end US aggression throughout the world. I'd also like to hear how each candidate plans to implement his or her solution.

You know.. the things that matter.



slouching mom said...



heartinsanfrancisco said...

Barack Obama is the most honest and honorable candidate we have had in my lifetime.

He actually thinks about things. What a concept, huh? Do you think America can handle it?

I totally agree that intelligent problem-solving is more important than blindly following silly conventions like the lapel pins that only serve to make their wearers think they are making a difference.

I have no stomach for talk shows because all too often, they seem overly egotistical, bombastic and cleverly critical of the wrong things.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I received a long, long anonymous post earlier today dragging Obama through every mud puddle possible, because I have an Obama widget on my blog. And all of this poster's "facts" were twisted garbage.

We NEED to focus on the issues. Period.

Great post, Chani!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I agree.

I realize that, as Rush Limburger—I mean “Limbaugh”—once said that talk shows are entertainment and not necessarily factual, but there are lots of idiots—I mean “people”—who, like my ex-brother-in-law, believe that everything said on talk radio is absolute truth, unless of course the host and callers are (to quote my ex-brother-in-law) “God-damned to Hell Pinko Liberal Communists.”

Kathryn Knoll said...

I am thrilled to read this piece and all the comments that have been said. We probably won't get the real truth much of the time from media. I would like to believe and see people go about the task of voting for the one they feel will best fit the bill this time. I am tired of cockroach politics and fear-feeding that has been served up to us. President-to-be O has my vote!

RKK said...

I so agree with you about the lapel pin. It seems to me that the one instance he donned the pin was made more meaningful than it otherwise would have been if he was wearing it all along in a "hey, I'm just like you" manner.

Los Angelista said...

Well said, Chani! Gosh, I feel like something's gotta give with all of it. I wonder what will be the tipping point where Americans just collectively say enough is enough with the way politics is both done and reported on in this country.

Defiantmuse said...

right. on.
I fully agree with everything you said.
I often wonder when people will wake up and say "This stops here".

Mary said...

I agree with you, Chani! I don't usually discuss politics but I will give my opinion. Sure, candidates can talk to us until they are blue in the face about what they will do to improve health care, unemployment, yada yada yada. We need to remember these certain types of people are gifted and talented actors and actresses!

Angela said...

"Who gives a rat's ass?" is one of my favorite questions of all time. And I like what I see of Obama -- though honestly I haven't researched him as much as I need to/want to in order to have an informed opinion. He is definitely my favorite candidate at this point and your post is thought-provoking, Chani. Thank you for it.

citizen of the world said...

I hadn't heard that about the lapel pin, but I really respect it. Another reason to like Obama.

blooming desertpea said...

If people want to matter, they should start talking about things that matter - then politics would matter!

Chani for pres!

Just kidding but I honestly think that in the politics they need people like you to tell them which way to go, and I'm not just talking US.

we_be_toys said...

Amen Sister!

I like both Hillary and Barack, and I'll vote for whichever gets the nomination, but man! I am so tired of the psycho-babble between them and the mud-slinging names folks call both of them.

And you're absolutely right - we are the ones who perpetuate it - us and the stinking media.

Victoria said...

Long-time lurker here who just wanted to say: Right on!

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

Right On! You said it perfectly Who really does give a rat's bohunkis? I have found Obama's campaign a refreshing change to the status quo, and I think he could do amazing things for our country both domestically and abroad. It seems to me that the more rediculous and far reaching the nay sayers go, the more threatened they feel. With this latest round of garbage, It looks like they are getting desperate. Great post!

painted maypole said...

doonesbury recently had a funny lapel pin cartoon, where the politician was in a panic over the lost flag pin, and the wife suggests he wear the one on his pajamas, to which he replies "no, it has to be the DRESS lapel pin!" ;)

wheelsonthebus said...

We fetishize the flag to make ourselves feel safe and secure. To make us think we understand complex concepts.

Rick Hamrick said...

In answer to the oft-asked question: it is the rat who gives his...uh, hindquarters if there is a rat's ass which is given!

And, rats a'plenty we have seen in the last decade, many of them sitting in the seats of power of our country.

Just as you declare, Chani, it is time to offer up a protest to those who continue to believe that we, the little people of the country, can have our votes swayed over such silliness as a lapel pin, or over some politician deciding that disagreeing with him is treasonous.

There is a long and colorful history of leaders who offer up the stark choice: my way, or you are my enemy.

None of those leaders, interestingly, have led this country until recently. Most have been catalogued into the areas of historical research where demagogues, dictators, or worse are left to reside.

Bush's way or the highway? How about we send him to that stark area of Texas where he has spent 30% of his presidency? Those highways are his, as far as I'm concerned.

I have been ashamed and embarrassed many times in the last eight years to be an American. Regardless of who the American people elect to lead us forward, I hope to find, again, an honest and heartfelt pride for who we are and what we represent.

We're not terrorists...although our leaders have acted as if we were. We're not bullies, although our leaders have bullied the world since they were brought to power. We are not insensitive to the issues of those who share a different religious belief that we do, although our leaders have taken us down a path which leaves the world only to beleive we are!

Enough. Out with the liars, the thieves, the murderers of our own citizens as they enrich themselves.

Please, fellow citizens, let's vote this time for healing instead of war.

Catherine said...

I hate talk radio - I always, always, end up yelling at the radio. That doesn't do any good.

Other than this small point, I agree with you 100%. :)

But as I pointed out to my brother the other day, we elect petty people and listen to petty discussions because that's what we are and that's how we think. That's the trouble with democracy - we actually put people in charge that look like us.

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