It isn’t often that a state cursed with a wretched flag gets a chance to adopt a respectable flag. When it does happen, citizens often ironically complain about the process not being democratic. So how are our current flags democratic? I had no say in choosing flags to represent my native South Dakota or Washington State, where I now live. In fact, both states are represented by flags that make me want to grab a barf bag.
Utah legislators deserve kudos for taking the initiative to give their state a respectable flag. Unfortunately, some citizens feel legislators have been less than democratic. Many don’t want to part with the current flag.
As consolation, Utah legislators want to retain the current flag as an official historic flag. That gives me an idea for what I think would be an intriguing experiment . . .
Imagine if legislators in one state or another took the initiative to adopt a new state flag. The process would begin with a flag design contest open to the general public. The winning design would then have equal standing with the current flag, which would not be replaced—at least not immediately. Residents would be free to fly whichever flag they prefer, and either flag could be flown at official functions. How would perceptions of the two flags change over time?
If such an experiment was carried out in Utah, I would venture to guess that only a minority of residents would embrace the new flag at first. However, the new flag might actually be more visible because 1) it’s more distinctive, and 2) most Utahns don’t fly the current flag to begin with. The new flag would also presumably have more traction with the tourism industry and various businesses. I suspect children and young people might embrace the new flag.
I suspect the same formula would apply in most states.
After a period of five or ten years, legislators could then retire the original flag if its popularity is warning significantly.
Though I’m not a huge fan of capitalism, I think authentic capitalism does have some good points. In fact, the experiment I describe above strikes me as a combination of capitalism and socialism. The state is taking the initiative in upgrading a state symbol, but citizens are free to choose their favorite design. The irony is that the greedy corporations that have turned America into such a shithole are probably going to favor more respectable designs. After all, crap doesn’t work well in advertising. I suspect ordinary citizens might favor better designs as well, though it might take them a while to get used to them.
I don’t expect my idea to ever be implemented, but it would be a fascinating exercise, and it would be democratic without all the mobocracy. What do you think?