Melissa J. Ferguson, at Cornell University, just released findings showing that exposure to the American flag inclines you to vote Republican. The more you saw the flag before the '08 election, the more likely it is that you voted for McCain. The more you saw the flag in '10, the more likely you voted Republican — even if you self-identified as a Democrat. This is troubling for two reasons. First, it seems that patriotic displays count in favor of Republicans. And so the causal connection is actually the other way — it's not that Republicans wrap themselves in the Flag because they're Republicans, it's that they're Republicans because they wrap themselves in the Flag. That occasions the second piece of troubling news — it's imagery that's having the effect on people, not reasons, evidence, or anything like that. Change a few features of your environment, and next thing you know, you're a conservative. That should give conservatives pause about what basis they really hold their convictions.
But all that is beside the point when Lisa Fabrizio at the American Spectator responds to the news. You see, she can't take the good news (that her ideological stripes have an advantage) without being suspicious of who's bringing it:
What is intriguing though, is the motivation behind these studies. Because they expose the tremendous anxiety of liberals when confronted by American patriotism, they reveal more about the observers than the observed. Because, in the main, liberals are ashamed of our country and all that it has represented and all that represents it: mainly our military and our flag.
But it seems she hasn't been paying attention. It's not the imagery that's the problem. It's the ideology that the imagery serves that's the problem for those liberal folks. To get hung up on the images is to miss the point.
Even the colors of the flag are cause for concern amongst those who despise what it stands for: purity, vigilance and valor. No, in modern America, liberal hearts do not beat true for the red, white and blue.
Now it's about color schemes. Surely there's a correlation between you wearing an American Flag jacket or John Phillip Sousa on your ipod and how you vote. But the findings show that for many conservatives, it's the imagery that makes the determinations. How does the motivation behind the researchers (whether or not they are liberals, commies, or whatever) influence the troubles for conservative conception? Maybe, as noted before, it really is more a game of identity politics than anything else. You already know what to expect when you see someone wearing a tricorn hat.