Clayton Cramer alludes to an curious strategy for political victory during his discussion of "Why Democrats Should Support the Flag Amendment, and Republicans Should Sit On Their Hands".

If you think about it for a minute, the ways in which Democrats and Republicans have lined up on this amendment makes no sense politically. Flag burning discredits the leftists who do it, because of emotional reaction that it promotes. Democrats should want some way to stop the left-wing of their party from engaging in these antics, because it makes the Democrats look like they hate America. Republicans should sit back and allow flag burning because it causes a patriotic, jingoistic frenzy in a very large number of Americans--and makes them even more hostile to the Democratic Party because of the actions of a few spoiled rich kids. That Republicans and Democrats are taking positions contrary to their political interests inclines me to think that both sides are taking their positions out of genuine conviction--not simple political advantage.

Ignoring the issue he's addressing -- flag burning and amendments against it -- Mr. Cramer seems to think that the best strategy for long-term victory is to foster short-term defeat. Leftists burning flags motivates rightists to action, ergo the lack of an anti-burning amendment is a boon for the right; enacting an anti-burning amendment would motivate the left and placate the right, which would cause the right to fight less hard.

It's logical: the closer the world is to your ideal the less you care about changing it. But is a desire to maintain motivation a reason to purposefully avoid approaching the ideal? Isn't the whole point of having motivation to use it move you closer to your ideal? If you can't use your motivation for that, then what good is it? I suppose Mr. Cramer is saying that the right should "spend" its motivation on more worthwhile things, but if flag burning really does cause "a patriotic, jingoistic frenzy in a very large number of Americans", then mabye banning it is worthwhile.



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