I am a Democrat and a hard-core liberal.
I think Howard Dean was correct in saying that the guys driving around in pickup trucks with images of the flag of the rebellious Confederacy are voting against their own interests when they vote Republican. The Democratic party ought to be able to get their votes. However, this may be difficult, since these guys do not recognise that they are being duped.
A man should be free to display any symbol in his own home as he pleases, or even indeed on his vehicle, provided it is not his intention to incite violence.
But he should be wary of what that symbol may seem to mean to others. A simple sun-worshipper might wish to display a yellow swastika upon a blue background, the swastika of old being a symbol of the life-giving sun. But this is unlikely to be the impression given to observers not versed in ancient lore.
I myself, having been born in Britain, might display a Union Jack occasionally. But I'd consider it bad form to do so on July 4th
The flag of the Confederacy represented the rejection, by the southern states, of the supremacy of the federal government, or in other words of the USA. It is truly ludicrous that these guys also consider themselves patriotic towards the USA, since the flag that they are displaying stands for the negation of such a loyalty.
It might in any given person's mind represent any of the following:
I suspect that it is mostly a rejection of government, which for instance says that you may not drive at your vehicle's top speed.
Oddly enough, most people do not realise that the dire FBI threats on every DVD are designed to protect the profits of large bureacratic organizations that are not controlled by the Government.
They have even been known to act tyrannically against their most talented employees, the creative people whom copyright laws are supposed to protect.
It's as half-baked as any notion that Ronald Reagan ever got from his wife's astrological advisor.
The equality bestowed upon all men by their Creator does not, for example, entitle Americans to an unlimited quantity of the world's petroleum products. Americans thereby deprive their fellow-humans of an equal share. The freedoms of a citizen of the USA are not, as these guys evidently think, threatened chiefly by the civilian federal government, and safeguarded by their own possession of firearms, and by the US military.
The fact is, that every time I drive on the freeway, my own life is threatened far more by a few idiots among my fellow Americans than it is by all the Islamic terrorists that are funded by our wasteful use of gasoline. John Ashcroft has threatened our own freedoms far more than any dozen foreigners.
So, no, I do not think that Howard Dean was mistaken in pointing out that those guys should be voting for us, and that we should draw their attention to the fact that we are more on their side than the people they vote for. But that will be difficult, and if we succeed they will stop displaying that silly flag.