Wineke: Don’t carry the American flag when storming the Capitol

Us President Donald Trump Supporters Gather Outside The
WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2021/01/06: US President Donald Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol building. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images)

MADISON, Wis. — Many observers seem outraged that the traitors who stormed the nation’s Capitol last week and desecrated the most important building in representative government were carrying a Confederate flag into the Senate chambers.

I was more offended by those carrying the American flag.

We’re just beginning to learn the details of that operation and every day we learn something new and more troubling.

It is clear that at least some of those involved intended on taking prisoner or killing elected representatives of the United States, including Vice President Mike Pence.

The Confederate flag is a symbol of insurrection. We fought a terrible war to put that insurrection down but, if your goal is to destroy the country, the Confederate flag is at least an appropriate symbol.

But using the American flag to do so is a desecration of the first order.

At the heart of the American experience is the idea that government acts with the consent of the governed and that the governed give their consent through free elections.

It’s not really a democracy because the Electoral College stands in the way of simple majority rule but it is a system that has served us from our nation’s beginnings.

It has simple rules: First, you vote. Second you count the votes. Sometimes the candidate who appears to have fewer votes contests the initial results. We have legal processes for that. The votes can be recounted. Sometimes voters allege fraud. We have processes for that, too. And, if those processes don’t work, the losing candidate can also go to court.

President Trump has done all those things. He has demanded – and received – recounts. He has alleged fraud. Officials including his own Attorney General have investigated those allegations and found them meaningless.

The states then have to certify the ballots. The states have done that. Then the Congress has to certify the ballots. Congress – despite the riot – has done that.

That’s how we elect a president in this country. He or she may continue to believe he won the election and may believe the election was “rigged.” But there has to be some way to come to a peaceful decision and what happened is how we come to that decision in the United States.

Here’s how you do not determine the winner of an election: You do not incite people to defy the process. You do not storm the Capitol, beat police officers, at least one fatally, and terrify both elected officials and the workers who make the Capitol operate. You do not carry guns and twist-tie handcuffs.

I maintain a certain sympathy for those who continue to believe President Trump. I believed that President Clinton “did not have sex” with Monica Lewinsky right up to the day he admitted that he did, indeed, have sex with Monica Lewinsky.

Sometimes we believe things because we want to believe them. We do not wrap ourselves in the American flag and participate in armed insurrection and then call ourselves “patriots.”