Early this morning, Donald Trump woke up and sent off a flurry of tweets including this one:
“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail”!
6:55 AM – 29 Nov 2016
What are we to make of this tweet that defies the U.S. Constitution? In 1989 the Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson ruled that burning a flag in protest is political expression protected by the First Amendment. In 1967 the Supreme Court ruled in Afroyim v. Rusk that the 14th Amendment forbids the government from taking away the citizenship of natural born Americans. Is Donald Trump suggesting that congress enact laws to punish flag-burning protesters by incarcerating them for a year and/or stripping them of their citizenship? Based on Supreme Court decisions, if congress did pass such laws, they would immediately be ruled unconstitutional.
Maybe Trump thinks he can get the court decisions overturned by appointing Supreme Court Justices who are sympathetic to his vision of dictatorial rule, like Scalia was. Oh wait! Scalia voted to protect flag burning as a form of protest. So what is Trump’s game plan? Why would he get up and start tweeting this nonsense?
He’s throwing more red meat to his base. His tweet was a call out to all the angry old white men who hated the sixties protests against the Vietnam War, the protests for civil rights, and the protests for women’s rights. The angry old white men and their like-minded middle-aged offspring are outnumbered now, and they feel disenfranchised. They like to place blame on anti-authoritarians, people of color, and uppity women with better jobs than they have. Trump’s tweet was made in anticipation of the protests he sees coming during his term. It puts his base in a fighting mood: Protesters blocking streets? Lock ‘em up! Burning flags? Lock ‘em up! Take away their citizenship and send them to Gitmo!
Trump knows that people will protest when he and his alt-right administration unravel Obamacare and replace it with an unworkable, more expensive program that we can’t afford; when they allow the use of public money to fund private investors who want to rebuild our infrastructure and start charging us rent to use our formerly public but now privately owned roads and utilities; when they cut income taxes to funnel billions of dollars to their billionaire friends and shift more of the federal tax burden back to us in the middle class; and when Trump’s promises to bring back outdated jobs don’t materialize.
That’s right, the rubes that elected Trump are the people who are going to get screwed. They are the ones that should be out blocking streets and burning flags when everything falls apart.
Will they? Of course not. At first the rubes will stand on the sidelines and blame all the people putting their freedom and their lives on the line to prevent the destruction of America as we know it. And right now, America is on a solid foundation built for economic growth and rising incomes (more on that later). The rubes won’t even understand that those disruptive, noisy, flag-burning protesters in the streets are raising their voices to protect the government programs and tax structure that benefit them – the disenfranchised working class. And instead of thanking the protesters for their valiant battles against authoritarianism and fascism, they will most likely fight back violently. That’s our history, and history repeats itself.