How Democrats can avoid the next fight over the Ga. flag

Is it possible for the upraised middle finger wielded by so many of you in metro Atlanta’s traffic lanes to become — in say, the next 100 years or so — a greeting of welcome and brotherhood?

Your answer to the question, believe it or not, could determine what kind of future Democrats have in Georgia. At least in the near term.

At the state Capitol, we are on the verge of yet another culture war over our state flag. Early this month, while they were emasculating Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in Macon, Senate Republicans took a spare moment to declare that all members of that chamber will be required to recite a daily pledge of allegiance to the Georgia flag.

The 1879 Georgia flag

The 1879 Georgia flag

The author of the proposal, state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, said he had no intention of igniting a debate over state sovereignty. But inside and outside the Senate, those who would like to see the federal government shrink to its 19th-century waistline will certainly see it as a sign of favor.

Two important Senate Democrats, both African-American, are having none of it. “An abomination,” said Minority Leader Robert Brown of Macon.

“I think what is being done here is symbolically saying we are somehow not a part of that country that remains America,” Brown said.

The 1956 Georgia flag

The 1956 Georgia flag

Emanuel Jones of Decatur, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, thinks likewise.

But two other Senate Democrats, both white, said they would have no problem with a pledge of allegiance to the state flag — and we will get to their reasons in a bit.

Last Monday, the executive committee of the state Democratic Party held its post-disaster assessment of the November elections.

About 30 attended in person, including many of those on the statewide ballot. An additional dozen or so listened in via a conference call.

It was not a happy group.

African-Americans, the unquestioned base of the Democratic Party, spoke of being underappreciated. White Democrats from rural Georgia complained about being ignored.

Many pointed that, even though Roy Barnes, the nominee for governor, had a desperate need for female voters, little support was offered to the party’s most prominent female candidates — Carol Porter, the candidate for lieutenant governor; Georganna Sinkfield, secretary of state; and Mary Squires, insurance commissioner.

The 2001 Georgia flag

The 2001 Georgia flag

Georgia Democrats are fractured and demoralized, and they will spend the next two months searching for new leadership and a new direction. A racially tinged fight over the state flag and the Tenth Amendment when the General Assembly convenes in January would come at exactly the wrong time.

It doesn’t necessarily have to happen. Those who forget history aren’t just condemned to repeat it — they are eternally destined to get angry at the wrong things.

The current flag of Georgia was, in fact, patterned after the first national flag of the Confederacy. A state version of the Stars and Bars was adopted in 1879, not long after the departure of the federal troops who had occupied Georgia since the end of the Civil War.

It was indeed a middle-fingered salute. Similar gestures came from other Southern states.

But in Georgia, the power of the insult diminished over the next seven decades — to the point that a new middle finger was required in 1956 during the South’s fight to preserve segregation. Georgia’s all-white Legislature adopted a new flag featuring the inflammatory Confederate battle emblem.

With the adoption of the ‘56 flag, the old flag assumed a new meaning. State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, an African-American, began to advocate a return to the Stars and Bars — to the point that white legislators began referring to the first flag of the Confederacy as the “black” flag.

This is why Barnes pleased very few when, as governor, he finally brought the ‘56 flag down in 2001, replacing it with a blue banner.

Barnes lost his 2002 re-election bid to Sonny Perdue — who promised a vote on the ‘56 flag and its Confederate battle emblem.

The 2003 fight to sabotage the new governor’s pledge could be called the last great Democratic victory in the state Capitol. The most influential but silent figure behind the effort was Jimmy Carter — one of the few times the former president ever inserted himself into state affairs.

The 2003 Georgia flag

The 2003 Georgia flag

Carter insisted on a return to the Stars and Bars flag — the middle finger of 1879 and the “black” flag of the 1980s. State Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Cobb County Republican, produced an initial design. State Sen. George Hooks, a Democrat from Americus and occupant of Carter’s old Senate seat, perfected it.

African-American lawmakers lined up in support. Kasim Reed, the future mayor of Atlanta, engineered the new flag’s passage in the Senate. Terry Coleman, the last Democratic speaker and a Carter protégé, cast the deciding vote in the House.

Hooks is still in the Senate and has declared that he’s eager to lead the first pledge to the state flag. State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, who was elected this spring and is the grandson of the former president, says he will recite the words gladly.

If Democrats want to avoid a damaging split, they will have to reframe the situation handed them by the GOP.

Yes, the notion of sending even a subtle signal of rebellion would be unacceptable to most Georgians. As Barnes noted during his campaign, the Yankees do have nuclear weapons now.

But the idea of watching Republicans swear daily fealty to Jimmy Carter’s flag — this is something that people might pay to see.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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169 comments Add your comment

first or second

November 20th, 2010
3:14 pm

first, second…who cares?


November 20th, 2010
3:21 pm

The 1956 flag, sans that dumb looking state seal would look pretty cool.


November 20th, 2010
3:38 pm

Both sides should just grow up and get over it!!

Alabama Communist

November 20th, 2010
3:45 pm

How Democrats can avoid the next fight over the Georgia flag* Story

Simple! Raise a white flag and say you are surrendering, but their legal loophole will be that they are Jevovah Witness’s and cannot pledge to any Pagan Republican Tea Party New World Order flag………


November 20th, 2010
3:51 pm

I’m with Maxine on this one.

wild one 13

November 20th, 2010
4:00 pm

Enter your comments here

wild one 13

November 20th, 2010
4:05 pm

As a long time state employee of Ga I can say that this is what is wrong with Ga. The idiots in Atlanta have their priorities screwed up, and fail the citizens of this state daily with thier childish and selfish behavior.


November 20th, 2010
4:07 pm

Hi everyone, I’m a good faithful Republican from Cobb County. I am a faithful voter. I once walked for miles barefoot in the snow just to vote in a Streets and Sewers Commissioner run-off.

Anyway I’m excited for the future. I’ve been here 8 years now. I’m from New York City. Us Republicans in Georgia can’t wait for the Republicans to get started on their Georgia agenda.

Transportation, education, water, ethics reform. I was stuck in traffic the other day thinking how lucky my great great grand kids might be to not be stuck in such a mess. We have the leadership in place to make that happen.

Stuck in traffic, I too dreamed of sitting down with the Ports Authority to discuss future business. I wondered where I could find a Georgia Website that listed all of the great no-bid contracts. I thought as a Republican I had a great chance of someday landing an Atlanta Gas Light short-skirted lobbyist girlfriend. Then I honked at the guy trying to cut-in in front of me. Then I though fondly at the McRib return. Yummy. Then I was happy, only 5 miles left. I’d be home in an hour!

There is a sickness in GA

November 20th, 2010
4:15 pm

Ugh, why is this still a story. If you don’t want to pledge allegiance to the GA flag then just exit the room when the pledge is taking place. This is a non-issue, stirred up by people to piss Democrats off. Just don’t take the bate.


November 20th, 2010
4:40 pm

Even if he had no intention of doing so, good job to Senator Jeff Mullis. He has the party obsessed with race talking about race during their first post-mortem meeting.

And these are the guys who are going to bring the Dems back to prominence in GA? People who cant even get past race to make a pledge to their state?


November 20th, 2010
5:02 pm

It’s changed why go back and mess with that mess. Georgia

Asheville Dawg

November 20th, 2010
5:10 pm

I pledge allegiance to whatever flag we fly this day!

big johnson

November 20th, 2010
5:15 pm

Who gives a rats ass about the state flag? Again we’re going through this bs? here’s an idea, Put all this irrelavent garbage aside and work on fixing this economic situation in georgia. Oh, wait, we have a new governor who can’t even keep his own house in order. this state rules!!!


November 20th, 2010
5:16 pm

Are we still having this redneck conversation? Yikes! We have bigger issues folks and we already settled the flag issue acouple of years ago. No wonder young people are leaving this brain-dead graveyard.


November 20th, 2010
5:20 pm



November 20th, 2010
5:25 pm

Democrats are suppose to be the liberal party but re pretty narrow minded. Everything they say comes out “This is racist” after trying for a while to please them because these liberals only see one side of any debate.


November 20th, 2010
6:16 pm

When will people stop worshiping the State?

Wadley Wrens

November 20th, 2010
6:30 pm

While they’re at it, they need to move the state capitol back to Louisville, where not as many prostitutes and lobbyists will be eager to go to seduce them while the egomaniacs should be working for us.


November 20th, 2010
6:45 pm

Yep Georgia and the nation keep handing the republicans ice cream.And they keep dropping it in the sand.Forget this crazy flag mess and start creating jobs like you campaign on.JOBS,JOBS JOBS..

Confederate Losers

November 20th, 2010
7:05 pm

They won’t be creating any jobs if they put the confederate flag back on the state flag, that’s for sure.


November 20th, 2010
7:36 pm

DannyX..where have you been? The Repubs have been in charge in Georgia for 8 YEARS ALREADY AND HAVE DONE NOTHING ABOUT TRANSPORTATION!


November 20th, 2010
7:39 pm

If the democrats try to start another fight, they might as well leave Atlanta and Washington now, because they will all get their tails kicked in 2012!! This state and country have bigger problems that need solving now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1


November 20th, 2010
7:50 pm

Let’s be absolutely clear about this: I am native born Georgia country boy who served his country in the United States Army.


November 20th, 2010
7:53 pm

Let’s be absolutely clear about this. I am a Georgia born country boy who served his country in the United States Army. I pledge allegiance to NO FLAG but the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands.

If the republican seccessionists in the General Assembly wish to take our beloved state out of our grand republic, I stand with the United States of America.


November 20th, 2010
7:59 pm

So, the Democrats got together on a conference call and still came up with nothing. No new leaders, no new ideas and still got their fingers up their butts wondering what happened this month. ITS THE GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP! IT SUCKS! And, it will continue to suck if the folks in charge now don’t step aside and let this younger generation put it back on track. KIDD, BARNES, BAKER, THURMOND, PORTER, ALL OF THEM ARE SORRY LEADERS!


November 20th, 2010
8:14 pm

I’d pledge allegiance to our state flag anyday over that crappy U.S. flag. I’m a native Georgian, and my family has been here since the 1750’s, and we didn’t own slaves like the other 90% of the southern white population, To all of you who have moved (INVADED) this state over the last 20 years or so, if you don’t like it Delta is ready when you are!!!!! American by birth, Southern by the grace of God! The elected representatives of GEORGIA should pledge their allegiance to the state they represent.


November 20th, 2010
8:21 pm

I’ve been here three years in Georgia. I have seen no changes, rising debt and a state congress so unlawful you could put them all in jail. This state is Republican and they will cheat, lie, steal, and just about anything to keep it. They have close door meetings, engage in afterhour love affairs with lobbyist men and women. They always bring up something in state leg instead of jobs, ethics, economy, transportation, healthcare. We need more watchdogs, media, bloggers, organizations that speakout about them. They always says we are fine and moving on or the Gov steps in and helps them. They will cover each other, stick together even when its criminal then use the state to cover it up and move on. The only way to beat them is get new Democratic leadership.


November 20th, 2010
8:26 pm

If you take Georgia you take the GOP. Invite all Democrates and Independent to Georgia, family, illegals, and foreigners tell them to make this a news home for two years. Register them as a voter and populate anywhere. The more democrats in this state the more voting power we have. If we take Georgia we break the Republicans. Move 5,000,000 democrats to Georgia within 5 years. We can do it.


November 20th, 2010
8:28 pm

Okay, Dawgs88, you’re a loonie! My family has been in America since 1655 on my father’s distaff side. Therefore, I have you beat by 100 years.
This is AMERICA! Our boys and girls aren’t fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else for the state of Georgia!
Try being an American. If you wish not to, Delta is ready when you are!


November 20th, 2010
8:29 pm

Independent: HOOAH!

wild one 13

November 20th, 2010
8:32 pm

dawgs88, if you think 90% of whites owned slaves you need to go back to school and take some history classes.


November 20th, 2010
8:38 pm

Bassakwards!!! How about jobs! education( or we still 49th or 50th/) Ignorant necks!!!

Ben Thinken

November 20th, 2010
8:39 pm

This whole Georgia flag thing has been going on since I was 60 years younger. Every few years someone decides to have it changed.
The biggest chapter in its history was when Gov. Barnes decided to change it to suit his taste. His goal was to remove the stars and bars on it, even though it represented the state’s history, to cater to the leaders of a minority voting bloc. It was soon replaced by another Governor.
To have one that keeps being replaced makes no more sense than not having one.


November 20th, 2010
8:39 pm

The current State Flag as well as the ‘56 are both acceptable to this liberal Southern Georgia Democrat. Barnes tablecloth is not and was not. By stabbing Georgia residents in the back, whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, Barnes and his Black co-horts have probably ensured Republicans will run this state for several decades. Thanks to the manner in which the ‘56 Flag was torn down by the Democrats they will not be in power in this State for many, many years, if ever. Sometimes you sow what you reap.


November 20th, 2010
8:47 pm

Will, I’m with you. I’m not a native Georgian, but I too served honorably and proudly in the USAF during the Vietnam War, and I pledge my allegiance to the flag oi this nation. This group of idiots are going to to continue to ruin state government and life in Georgia while they get caught up in these stupid and silly issues. If they want Georgia to secede from the union, that’ll be just fine with me. They don’t have enough money to fight a war with the United States of America.


November 20th, 2010
8:50 pm

I like the rewriting of history in this article. The 1950’s was about the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. The flag during the civil war was the first flag after the US flag in the 2001 with a blue or red background. Only our state government could honor the people who took us into the Civil War, but not the men who fought in it. The St. Andrews Cross was a battle flag because of problems with the National flag. Before 1868 we were a citizen of the state not the US. We are citizens of the US by the 14 amendment ratified in 1868.


November 20th, 2010
8:53 pm

Oh bonnie blue put a foot in a dem,s ass.


November 20th, 2010
9:29 pm

At this point, I don’t care if the Republicans worship Baal, as long as they start creating jobs. If the GA flag wasn’t changed, Atlanta would be a ghost town rather than a convention center. The good news, I guess is that Arthur Blank wouldn’t be seeking money for a new stadium. Former Governor Barnes might come across as arrogant but it was out of necessity.

Travis McGee

November 20th, 2010
9:32 pm

Ignorance knows no bounds and in Georgia is, indeed, boundless!


November 20th, 2010
9:43 pm

Nobody is advocating a pledge to the state flag, it is a salute.
” I salute the Georgia flag and the principles for which it stands, wisdom, justice and moderation”.
I would still like a vote on the 1956 flag that was promised.


November 20th, 2010
9:46 pm

Pledge to the state, yes. Pledge to the Ga Gop knife in the back rag? I’d rather eat dirt. I would like to give credit to white trash like Jimmy Carter and the whining “base” of the democratic party for me becoming a fultime anti- democrat voter and voice in the wilderness aginst their worthless agenda.


November 20th, 2010
9:53 pm

The unemployment rate is still 10%.
Put that on a flag and wave it under their noses at the legislature.


November 20th, 2010
10:03 pm

Imagine that. Unemplyment at 10% and the flag got changed. This was supposed to bring jobs jobs jobs. Imagine that, the flag changed and neither UGA or Tech has a football national trophy since. The 56 flag was supposedly the reason for that.Btw, yankess aint the only one’s with nukes. Thay all over Dixie and in submarines right her in South Ga.


November 20th, 2010
10:20 pm

Poor poor black democrats, they’ve got to cut the spending and free give-a-ways to the deadbeats! Sorry Tyrone, there ain’t no money tree!!! It got brought down with the flag! Oh, sorry Ty, I still fly mine.

To RoboCop

November 20th, 2010
10:27 pm

And the federal goverment does??? They’d have to borrow it from the Chinese!!! And hopefully the military could spend some of it before that muslim obamination can give it away to the lowlifes, illegals, and deadbeats!!!!! Georgia, SUCEED!!! We’ll only be following Arizona’s lead!!!!!


November 20th, 2010
10:41 pm

No one is suggesting a return the the ‘56 flag. All they are calling for is a pledge to the state flag in addition the pledge to the U.S. flag. Not necessary but also not harmful. What’s not to like about legislators reciting the great motto of this state, “wisdom, justice, moderation,” as a daily reminder of the virtues to which they should aspire? It does not diminish the pledge to the U.S. flag. It just acknowledges that the legislature has a specific obligation to the people of Georgia.
It doesn’t make sense to fight it. You can’t make a reasonable case against it. But as Senator Brown has demonstrated, you can make yourself look awkward in the attempt. We need Democrats in the legislature to constitute a credible and respected counterweight to the Republican majority on substantive policy issues. That’s hard to do when others think you’re inclined to oppose for opposition’s sake. And this is exactly the impression given by quibbling over an innocuous bit of ceremony.


November 20th, 2010
10:55 pm

We need Democrats in the legislature to constitute a credible and respected counterweight to the Republican majority on substantive policy issues

Better import some from out of state then. Ga is loaded with loony tunes democrats.


November 20th, 2010
11:00 pm

here’s an example of looney tunes…..
Sen. Mary Squires (D-Norcross), who is white, made a tearful speech from the floor of the Senate while referring to a discussion she had with her 9-year-old son about the effort to change the Georgia flag. During the conversation, her son asked if Perdue hated black people because of his effort to have a voter referendum on the state flag.

After the speech, Squires, accompanied by Regina Thomas (D-Savannah), marched into Perdue’s office and waited there before spending several minutes with him discussing the matter.

After the meeting, Squires said the governor defended his position.

“The governor told me he is not wrong,” she said. “And that I don’t know him and that essentially he is not concerned about the children of this state and what the children of this state see coming from his office and coming from this legislature.”

had another from savannah who got on the floor and claimed to be able to talk (and listen i reckon) to dead people.


November 20th, 2010
11:23 pm

Go study your history folks! The Founders considered us citizens of our individual states first and foremost. The federal citizenship was second. When the Civil War broke out many who supported keeping the Union together fought for the Confederacy, and many who supported the Southern States’ right to secede fought for the Union. Why? These people’s loyalty was first and foremost to their home state. Lincoln asked Lee to command the Union Army, and though he was against secession, Lee told him he could not abandon Virginia.


November 20th, 2010
11:27 pm

Come on you people in the legislature, don’t you have more important things to work on instead of that stupid flag. What about the education, jobs and the budget. I am so sick and tired of elected officials in the capitol using their offices for their on personal gains and any dumb personal issue they feel like bringing up instead of doing what they are elected to do, Quit wasting the taxpayers’ time on things that are not important to the majority of us and do what you were elected to do if you know how.