We spent the better part of our day heading west towards the small Utah town where tomorrow we will fetch (pun intended) our newest family member, Loki puppy. The thing about Colorado is it is big, bigger than you might imagine. It’s the eighth largest state, which isn’t clearly apparent when you look at a map of the US. However, it is only 20th in terms of population. This means there is a great deal of open space here. The traffic in the cities is a nightmare, but outside the cities there are areas of the state where you really are ostensibly out in the middle of nowhere. We passed through some of those nowhere areas today.
When I was a child, Colorado was a red state. As the population has increased and the cities have grown, it has become a blue state. Let’s call it light blue. Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Pueblo, and many of the mountain towns are blue. Colorado Springs, along with the rural towns in the west and east, are red. You can travel through Denver and see LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter signs along with American flags, but once you hit the rural areas you will begin to see Don’t Tread on Me and Blue Lives Matter flags, along with Trump flags and even Confederate flags (don’t get me started on that). This division of our state’s population along political lines has never been as apparent to me as it is now. It’s enough to make little liberal me feel uncomfortable when we pass through Rifle, where US Representative Lauren Boebert owns a restaurant aptly called Shooter’s Grill, where servers wait on tables with loaded guns holstered at their sides. As we left the Denver metro area and headed west and then northwest, we entered some of the lower populated areas that are solidly red, including Rifle.
Outside of Rifle, heading north towards Meeker today, I saw something I have never in my 53 years as an American citizen seen. There was a small ranch off the road on my side of the car. As we drove past, I noticed they had two flags attached to the wooden entry gate, one American flag and one variant of a Blue Lives Matter flag. This did not surprise me. What caught my attention was that both flags were flying upside down, waving in the fall breeze.
I turned to Steve and remarked about it. According to the US flag code, “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” From what I could glean from the appearance of the ranch, there were no instances of extreme danger to life or property, which could only mean that the union down on their flag poles was meant to signify that our country is in dire distress. I told Steve that I too agree that our country is in dire distress, but I imagine I probably disagree with the person who hoisted those flags as to why that is.
The sight of these flags flown upside down, combined with the events of January 6th at the US Capitol, are deeply concerning. And after reading an opinion piece in The Washington Post yesterday written by neoconservative scholar Robert Kagan, entitled Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here, I’m getting increasingly worried about where we are headed. When you see conservative pundits on mainstream media saying they expect there to be violence, it’s time to expect violence. We are in an ugly, scary place. We don’t have a roadmap for where we are heading. I know it doesn’t help my mindset that I am a huge fan of the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. I keep telling Steve as I see the battle to overturn Roe v. Wade play out that I won’t end up like June Osborne, unable to escape a country that has fallen under authoritarian rule while she kept thinking, “This can’t really be happening.” It’s not hyperbole to say that we are in dangerous territory, and I’m not talking about Rifle or Lauren Boebert’s Shooter’s Grill.
“Liberals and Democrats in particular need to distinguish between their ongoing battle with Republican policies and the challenge posed by Trump and his followers. One can be fought through the processes of the constitutional system; the other is an assault on the Constitution itself.” ~ Robert Kagan