Why Utah’s New Flag Rocks!

Utah State Flag Utah State Flag Proposal
Who voted for the piece of crap on the left?

You won’t find a more cynical person in the universe than me. I think the U.S. government is hopelessly corrupt. Ditto for the media and just about everything else. I don’t even trust ordinary citizens.

So why should I trust the efforts of Utah legislators to adopt a new Utah state flag? After all, citizens weren’t allowed to vote on the new design. In fact, they weren’t asked if they want a new flag, period.

Could the new flag campaign be orchestrated by business interests that want to create a more effective “brand” for the state?

Adding insult to injury, they didn’t choose my favorite design! I was cheering for a design featuring the famous rock formation known as Delicate Arch.

Of course, my feelings don’t matter, because I live in Washington State, not Utah. In fact, some Utahns probably resent outsiders sticking their big noses into their business.

On the other hand, flags can “sell” states to tourists, commerce, and prospective new residents. The importance of outside opinions was driven home in Georgia and Mississippi, whose Confederate flags were under fire in the national media. Legislators in both states eventually caved in to pressure and ushered in new flags. Unfortunately, the efforts in both states were badly bungled, and their new flags are a joke.

I’ve long had a special interest in state symbols (see my website Geobop’s Symbols), and I also have a special interest in upgrading state flags. My opinions will be broadcast on the Internet whether anyone cares or not. Isn’t democracy a wonderful thing?

So, why am I so excited about Utah’s campaign to adopt a new state flag, and why do I support the design that was selected, even though it wasn’t my favorite?

Stuck in the Mud ˆ

First, consider the problem. Roughly three dozen states are represented by flags that are not competently designed. Some are downright embarrassing. Symbolism is another problem. Take the slave owner depicted on Washington State’s ugly one-dollar bill flag—please.

Flags evolve over time.

And the situation isn’t changing. I can’t say no state has ever moved up to a better flag, because some of the states represented by respectable flags were once represented by flags that weren’t so nice. Early Colorado flags featured the state seal or coat of arms, for example.

However, all those really attractive state flags that stick out like sore thumbs are ancient history. No state cursed with an ugly flag has cleaned up its act since World War II. There have been efforts to upgrade flags in a number of states, but they have generally been lame at best. Private citizens who want to campaign for a new flag are generally ignored by legislators. On the rare occasions when legislators take the initiative, they’re generally shot down by private citizens. Talk about a catch-22!

Forward! ˆ

Utah legislators decided it’s time to adopt a new flag, and they did everything they could to make it happen. They held a flag design contest that was open to everyone, even people from outside Utah. You can’t get more democratic than that. For good measure, they recruited some graphic design companies to submit their proposals. Smart move.

Was Utah’s current flag chosen from a flag design contest open to the public, or was it designed by a committee? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there was anything democratic about its selection.

People who complain that the flag campaign isn’t truly democratic don’t get much sympathy from me. You see, I’ve run for public office on both the state and local level. I’m also a long-time political activist and student of political science. What democracy are these people talking about? Most laws and political candidates are mandated, vetted, and manipulated by corporate interests.

Conversely, if you let the people have their say, you get mobocracy, not democracy. The average U.S. citizens simply doesn’t have a clue about politics, nor do they have a clue about flags or other symbols. They’re certainly entitled to their opinions, which are conveniently all over the map. But if it was up to them, there would never be any change and therefore no improvement, no progress.

Making History ˆ

What’s happening in Utah is historic. It’s frankly amazing. It may not be perfect, but what is?

Keep in mind that politics is the art of compromise. Utah legislators didn’t vote for my favorite design. Boo hoo.

I’ve designed flag proposals for just about every state that (in my opinion, at least) needs a new state flag. I don’t expect any of my designs to ever be considered for adoption. There are other vexillologists (flag buffs) who are similarly obsessed with designing flag proposals that will never see the light of day. It’s part of the process, part of democracy.

There is currently some interest in adopting new flags in Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, and Illinois. However, the Massachusetts effort appears to be fumbling, and legislators in Maine and Minnesota are asleep at the wheel. Right now, all eyes are on Utah. If Utahns fail to deliver a new flag, that leaves us right where we started—nowhere.

Utah could inject some badly needed energy into a long overdue nationwide campaign for respectable symbols.

The design that was finally chosen to represent Utah doesn’t meet everyone’s approval. However, it has already begun to grow on me, and it’s light years ahead of the current design. If you want to wait for the perfect design—something that can knock New Mexico’s flag out of first place—be prepared for a long wait.

Benevolent Conspiracy? ˆ

Now just suppose there’s something really evil going on behind the scenes. Let’s say Utah’s new flag campaign was orchestrated by some cabal of sinister corporations that want to turn the flag into a corporate logo. In fact, that’s exactly what corporate interests have attempted in some states, notably Wisconsin.

However, the results speak for themselves. Utah’s new flag doesn’t represent Microsoft or Raytheon. It clearly suggests snow-covered mountains and red rock under a blue sky. If it’s a corporate attempt to promote skiing, well, isn’t that more wholesome than Microshaft? What does the current flag promote? Nothing.

In fact, I am suspicious of a nationwide conspiracy involving state symbols. It’s a conspiracy that promotes the adoption of English as the official language in every state while encouraging citizens to not upgrade their flags, continually reminding people that their ancestors “fought for” whatever crappy flag flies over their local courthouse.

Shame on Utah for being the second state to adopt an official state firearm. However, the proposed new state flag is hardly militaristic, unless Utah legislators are planning on hurling the Rocky Mountains at China.

In fact, Utah’s new flag reminds me of China. The corporate media give clueless Americans 10,000 reasons to hate and fear China, when China’s rise may be the best thing that has happened in 500 years. While the U.S. bombs other countries into obedience to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese are focusing on cooperation and trade. They are building infrastructure around the world, and they are leaving the U.S. in the dust.

Sadly, some Utahns are similarly being told there’s something sinister about the new flag that could soon represent them. It’s ugly. It doesn’t represent the state. It wasn’t chosen democratically.

Have these people asked the same questions about the current flag?

I say Viva Utah!, Viva China!, and let’s nuke Washington State’s flag next.

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