Folding the Flag and Finding Harmony in Politics
In preparing to lead his new Boy Scout Troop, my husband was learning to fold the American flag. It is much trickier than expected. After extensive practice, trial and error we were finally able to get it right. We learned there are two keys to doing it right. The first was keeping the flag taunt between the two people. The second was keeping your side straight, no matter what the other side was doing. As I was folding and refolding that flag I could not help but think of the analogy in these lessons. As I see what is happening in the state of our politics, we are following neither of these rules to the detriment of all.
The modern understanding of political science confirms the health of a two-party system. But only when it is done right. The tautness to fold the flag comes from each party pulling in their direction. Each party should be producing their best, their best leaders and their best ideas. But what we are seeing now is slack. We are seeing blame and each party just putting forth insults and justifications. The best of each party is not on display. President Trump is not a true representative of conservatism, yet he leads a party that Mitt Romney could not. The slack appears when parties choose their candidates on “Who Can Win” and not “Who Believes Our Ideas.” When ideas are replaced with insults and good leaders are replaced by charismatic clowns, the tautness turns to slack.
The blame that is spewed across party lines represents another lesson learned while folding that flag over and over. In order for the end result to be correct, both holders had to keep their edges in line. Both sides of the political arena are responsible for their side. Trying to correct the opposing side does not work. The only way to keep a side in line is by doing it from that end. Republicans must hold Republican representatives and leadership accountable, they cannot become so afraid of the other side they will make incorrect decisions or stand by incorrect principles just to win. Democrats have to clean their own Party, the Republicans cannot. Democrats must be accountable for their history with regards to Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy and change their course. If both sides put forth an ethical and moral standard for their leadership and care less about winning and more about good, our political climate would be far less partisan.
We can do it. We can do it as Republicans and Democrats. We can do it not through leadership roles but as electors of our leaders. Through keeping the tautness of putting forth our best in each party and keeping our own side straight, by holding our representatives to a standard, we can fold the flag. We can put the country on the path toward prosperity and amity. But it takes both sides taking care of their business. It takes less name calling and more ideas. It takes two sides to fold a flag, just as it takes two sides to run a country.