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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Should State Flags Fly Above The American Flag? Discuss.

Photo by J. Stephen Conn (CC)

The cool thing about libertarianism is how united we are in our shared premise that it is wrong to forcibly interfere in the lives of others (even for government!), and yet how diverse a group we can be, with different values, lifestyles, and even opinions about libertarianism itself and how best to implement a free and civil society.

As I'm struck with inspiration from time to time, I'm going to start posting "Discussion Points" as catalysts for dialogue about issues that we may disagree on- even if we all share a "libertarian" understanding of civil society. Today's discussion point is somewhat parochial (but any non-Americans are welcome to sound off on the issue!) and relates to the sovereignty of the fifty United States, and their relationship to the Federal government.

J. Stephen Conn noticed that I used a picture of his to illustrate my post entitled "TN Senate Affirms 10th Amendment, Passes Firearms Freedom Act." He left a comment identifying himself as a libertarian, expressing his appreciation that another libertarian is getting value out of his work, and then making this assertion:

Actually, IMHO, the State Flag should be above that of the USA.

I was immediately intrigued, because I didn't know right away what I thought about that. So here's the discussion point for the day:

Should state flags fly above, below, or on level with the American flag?



  1. In my opinion, when on different staffs, level is appropriate. On the same staff, the national flag should be higher.

    The national flag doesn't represent the federal government, and it's really not about a "states rights" vs "federal 'rights'". Instead it's simply the unification of 50 states.

    Although the federal government has waaaay too much power, the national flag represents the unity that makes these 50 states a nation. Like it or not, we live and die as a nation. People for years have been dying to protect the American flag. And I'm not speaking figuratively here. People have died to keep that flag standing in battle.

    In my mind, at least... the national flag is a totally separate issue from states rights issues. Regardless of the balance of power, we are still one nation, and many states.

    There is some truth to "United we stand, divided we fall". I do think the balance of power is wrong, but the unity that the flag represents is important to ensure our countries survival.

  2. Full disclosure everybody: my very close friend Steve has Yankee roots but presently resides in the South.

    I myself have Southern roots (Kentucky, which was a slave state, but also a Union state that did not secede- all my Kentuckian forebears during that period fought for "the North") and presently reside in the South (Tennessee).

    If you feel comfortable disclosing where you're from with your comments, feel free to do so, because I'm interested to see what correlation that may have with people's views on this issue.

    If you cruise over to J. Stephen Conn's website, you'll see that he's a Confederacy buff who keeps up with current news about the Confederacy and Confederate flag.

  3. I think a lot of things need to be fixed in this country, and one of them is certainly state sovereignty. What clearer a sign of intent than to place the state flag in the superior position over the national flag?

  4. As a political statement, we should all fly our state flags above the U.S. flag in protest of the federal government’s blatant violations of state soveirgnty. But if state sovereignty is ever restored again, the U.S. flag should be returned to its proper place above state flags. It’s difficult to remember a time when the federal government protected our individual liberties rather than endangering them. But we shouldn’t forget the floor of rights the U.S. Constitution charges the federal government with protecting Article IV of the U.S. Constitution, via enforcement by the federal government, "guarantees to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government." The states may raise the ceiling for protections of individual liberties, but they cannot venture outside the framework of government established by the U.S. Constitution. The proper role of the federal government is to arbitrate disputes between the states and to ensure that state governments are not stripping the individual liberties of its citizens protected by the U.S. Constitution. All else should be governed by the individual states. In essence, the U.S. flag should be flown above the state flag because the stars and stripes represent the Constitution and the framework within which all state governments must operate.

  5. Origins disclosure: born and raised in North Carolina, currently living in Indiana.

    Political sympathies disclosure: "free market fundamentalist" brand of libertarian.

    The national flag should fly above the state flag, and state capitol buildings are not an appropriate place for glib secessionist sentiments. If you wanna fly the state flag over the national flag in your own yard as a political statement, though, go for it. My reasoning is basically the same as Anonymous' above: so long as we're committed to operating withing the constitutional framework, we're members of the greater union, and the national flag goes on top.

    If a southern state wants to express displeasure with the way the federal government violates principles of state sovereignty (which it does, and which I, too, as a libertarian, am angry about), there is a way: fly the confederate flag on Confederate Memorial Day on state flagstaffs. Note - by "the confederate flag" I am not talking about the battle flag (the one that was on Georgia's state flag until recently), I'm talking about the confederate national flag (aka "stars and bars" - the one that Georgia's state flag is currently based on). North Carolina flies the Confederate National flag on Confederate Memorial Day, and I've always approved of it doing so. (The more controversial battle flag is deliberately provocative, and though I am not personally offended by it, I understand why people are.) I'm not sure what the options are for northern and western states.

  6. I think Americans need every reminder possible that this country is comprised of We the People. Let the State flags fly higher than the federal flag. Let the people be reminded that the federal gov't was always intended to be a LIMITED gov't, with very limited power, over very specific areas. Let the people realize that originally We the People told the state what to do, and the sovereign state told the feds what to do.

    Mass marketing, consumerism bombardment, sports/TV/Movies, news and propagandized fear is used to constantly distract the people. Let us use the same tactics as often as possible to REMIND people that we are free and should never fear our gov't, and that we should be Ever Vigilant against the inevitable corruption that will always creep back into it's ranks.

    PS. On a personal note, thanks for creating a link for our site:

    We are relatively new, but are working hard to help enlighten people. Thanks for your help with the link you created for us.

  7. More and more- I am agreeing. I keep having these epiphanies over the last few months and I'm telling you- our states need to win back this country from the Federal government.

  8. Libertarian from NJ here--I'm a New Jerseyan first and an American only second. I fly my "buff & blue" over the federal flag, and I get no objection even from non-libertarians once I explain that New Jersey (and 17 other states) was an independent country before the United States was formed!

    I'm surprised no one else took this view, especially those from the southern states where people are more rooted (and where flags are more distinctive than the Northeast's state-seal-on-blue pattern).

    The federal government might happen to guarantee a republican form of government, but do you really think it's the best guarantee? The UN "guarantees" rights as well, and no one flies THAT flag in support of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  9. Well-said, my friend! Since posting this a few months back, I am now firmly of the mind that you are doing the absolutely correct thing in flying your state flag above the federal flag.

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