The flag, as a symbol of the nation, is not owned by the administration in power, but by the people. We battle over what it means, but all Americans -- across the political spectrum -- have an equal right to claim the flag as their own.
What we need to appreciate is that Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt led us through our greatest national crises and not only prevailed, but made America freer, more equal, and more democratic in the process.
It is a sign of how radical conservatives have become that they are raising issues that have seemed settled for many decades. Now comes the most radically extreme proposal yet: repeal of the 14th amendment.
So there's nothing new about Mediscare-style arguments, rambunctious and easily manipulated populists, or Astroturf-style mobilizations. But there is something about this debate that feels different, and more intense.