We have all heard the phrase that a picture is worth a thousand words. The pictures from the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol building and the affront to our democracy brought me to tears, frightened my children and left me worried about the future of our country and my party. I am a conservative. At our core, conservatives believe that America should conserve the ideals and principles laid out by our founders. The pictures shared with the world on Jan. 6 showed just the opposite of what a conservative seeks for our country.
Of the many tragic images from the attack, I couldn’t help but notice the various flags that were being waved. There were Trump flags, Confederate flags, Gadsden (Don’t Tread on Me) flags, thin-blue-line flags, and even a Missouri state flag.
America’s founders knew that power could and would be abused. They formed a government and wrote the Constitution in an attempt to foresee the ways power could be abused and remedies for when abuses occur. They knew that demagogues would be poison to our republic. They also created the Electoral College, the votes of which were being certified when the Capitol building came under attack.
When the Constitution was written, our newly forming country had just fought a revolution against a monarch. The founders would never have wanted citizens waving a flag with the name of a demagogue on it. They never would have wanted our country to be defined by one man.
For me, the Confederate flag is a symbol of division, racism, and hate. Bringing the Confederate flag into the Capitol tells me that the insurrectionists wanted only to divide us as they descended on the Capitol. Our goal as Americans should be to work together for unification and reject the division the insurrectionists seek.
The Gadsden flag’s design is a coiled rattlesnake on a yellow field along with the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” The flag has its origins from before the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin printed the image of the snake in the Pennsylvania Gazette “to remind the delegates of the danger of disunity, the serpent was shown cut to pieces. Each segment is marked with the name of a colony, and the motto ‘Join or Die’ below.” The Gadsden flag has morphed over time to symbolize defiance — the opposite of the unity message Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, tried to convey.
According to thinbluelineusa.com, “the thin blue line flag features a black and white image of the American flag with the horizontal stripe beneath the field of white stars on the black background. The stars represent the citizenry who stand for justice and order. The darkness represents chaos and anarchy, and according to some, a memorial to the deaths of those law officers who have perished in the line of duty.” Perhaps it is just me, but what I saw at the Capitol building was chaos and anarchy and certainly put our law enforcement officers in harm’s way. We should all strive to be those stars that stand for justice and order.
Why was someone carrying our Missouri flag? I guess we’ll never know. I assume it was a signal for Missouri’s junior senator, Josh Hawley. Which brings me to yet another image, the photo of Hawley in a clenched fist salute to protesters outside of the Capitol building. If there ever was an illustration of sedition, it would be that photo. Sedition is conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch. Sedition is also a felony.
In the coming days, this conservative hopes to hear more truth than lies. This conservative hopes to see more images of the flag of the United States of America, with people uniting behind it. This conservative hopes to move in the direction of healing our republic. This conservative hopes to see images of law and order. This conservative hopes to see images of Republicans choosing country and Constitution over party or one man. This conservative believes that we can rebuild faith in our institutions if we strive to conserve those values and ideals that our founders laid out for us.
Lynn Schmidt is the Missouri state leader for Stand Up Republic and is a registered nurse. She lives in St. Charles.