The latest attempt to pass a constitutional amendment allowing Congress to pass laws against flag “desecration” failed by one vote in the Senate. It had already passed the House. Had it passed the Senate, it would surely have gotten the approval of the necessary three-fourths of the states.
Here’s a brief article from the New York Times summarizing the vote.
One vote, folks. That’s how stupid and right-wing this country has gotten. People who support flag-burning amendments are the sort of people who like their patriotism cheap, empty and emotional. No serious person could possibly think this is an important issue to be discussing now (or ever). There is absolutely no one who is losing sleep over the possibility that some disgruntled college student is going to burn a flag. It is designed solely as a sop to those people who think patriotism is found in protecting the symbols of the country, rather than in protecting the principles of the country. It’s so much easier to support a flag-burning amendment and boast of your patriotism than it is to forthrightly address any of the real problems facing the nation.
That the Republicans brought it up now is obviously a bit of political posturing in preparation for the upcoming elections. And the sad part is they are probably right to think it will win them more votes than it costs them in November.
The full vote is available here. Not too many surprises. Only three Republicans voted against it. Lincoln Chafee (RI), Bob Bennett (UT) and Mitch McConnell (KY). Chafee is no surprise; he’s one of the few moderate Republicans left in the Congress. But Bennett and McConnell are both solid conservatives.
I counted thirteen Democrats that voted in favor of the amendment. There, too, most of them were unsurprising, coming from solidly red states. The biggest surprise was that Diane Feinstein (CA) voted in favor of the amendment. That’s very disappointing.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton, I’m happy to say, voted against it. She’s been making some disturbing remarks in her speeches about “protecting the flag,” but when it came time to act she voted the right way. So did Joe Lieberman, so it’s nice to see that he hasn’t completely gone over to the dark side.
All in all, the vote confirms what I’ve long believed about American politics. To the extent that there is any hope that the government will do the right thing in a given situation, that hope lies with the Democratic Party. The Democrats will let you down a lot of the time (thirteen Democratic votes for the amendment is way too many), but they don’t relentlessly court the idiot vote the way the Republicans do.