United States politics is one of the biggest money businesses in the world. In so many ways the channels to gain political influence can trump even the largest multi-national corporation. As citizens of this great nation, we would like to think those involved in the business of politics could look beyond petty skirmishes, but that, perhaps, would be expecting too much from those in control of our governments.
Two examples recently came to light. The first occurred last week when the Senate chose to hold up a resolution honoring former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died on Monday, April 8 at age 87. The resolution was scheduled to pass late Wednesday prior to being sidelined by Senate Democrats.
Could the reason for the snub be that the former Prime Minister was too closely aligned with Republican President Ronald Reagan? The purpose of a resolution like this is merely to show respect for and acknowledge a person’s contribution. The House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution honoring Thatcher. The tribute cited Thatcher’s “life-long commitment to advancing freedom, liberty, and democracy and for her friendship to the United States.”
The second example of political pettiness is taking place in New Rochelle, where the city council has refused to allow a veterans organization from displaying the Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flag from the New Rochelle Armory.
It was after an official ceremony at the Armory, in March, that a new American flag was unfurled to replace the previous weathered flag. Under the new flag was the flag known as the Gadsden, which is a common tradition at many military sites. Within a week the New Rochelle City Manager ordered the Gadsden removed because of “unidentified complaints” that the flag is a symbol of the Tea Party. But after learning greater detail of the flag’s origin and lengthy tradition from the veterans group United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association of New Rochelle, the city manger decided he acted in haste and rescinded his previous directive.
But the pettiness didn’t end there. The New Rochelle City Council entered the fray, overruled the city manager, and voted 5-2 to have the flag removed. The council objected to the flag because they said the president of the veterans group is a member of the Tea Party and wants to display the flag to push a political agenda. Despite denial from the group’s president city DPW workers were ordered to confiscate the Gadsden.
The Gadsden flag, sometimes referred to as the Jack, is steeped in U.S. history back to the country’s founding days. It has been used by both the U.S. Marines and Navy since 1775 when Commodore Esek Hopkins used the First Navy Jack as a signal to engage the British in the American Revolution. Since the New Rochelle Armory was at one time a New York Naval Militia Armory and training facility for both the Navy and the Marines the flag has sentimental value and roots in that facility.
You have to wonder when you hear or read of events like these if values like respect, honor, tradition or appreciation of service have any basis in the business of big politics today? Surely these folks have more important issues to address than the fear of being one upped by a kind gesture to the deceased former Prime Minister or overlooking the short lived Tea Party’s perceived association to a symbol long associated with American democracy and independence. I was always taught to speak kindly of the dead and have respect for those who’ve served our country. Childish behavior has no place in American Politics nor in a serious society that seeks to uplift its people and encourage active participation.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.