I’m not sure how libertarians and liberty-minded folks who support Trump will process his latest tweet.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
“This might not tell us anything we didn’t already know about where Trump is coming from, but it certainly drops a hint about where he’s heading. That tweet could be a passing brain-fart; it could also be his next crusade. Be prepared,” writes Jesse Walker. He calls Trump the “caudillo-elect,” or the authoritarian-elect.
Jason Miller, a Trump aide, refused to accept the constitutional argument on flag burning and said those who insult the official symbol of the government must be prosecuted.
— CNN (@CNN) November 29, 2016
The Supreme Court ruled twice on flag burning and decided it is “speech” protected by the First Amendment.
But there is a more fundamental right at stake. Property rights. If you own a flag or anything else and decide to destroy it and you do not endanger the lives or rights of other people, the state does not have the right to arrest, fine, and imprison you.
Trump wants you to worship the state and its symbols which he believes are more important than your liberty.
Murray Rothbard put the issue into perspective:
Keeping our eye on property rights, the entire flag question is resolved easily and instantly. Everyone has the right to buy (or weave) and therefore own a piece of cloth in the shape and design of an American flag (or in any other design) and to do with it what he will: fly it, burn it, defile it, bury it, put it in the closet, wear it, etc. Flag laws are unjustifiable violations of the rights of private property. (Constitutionally, there are many clauses from which private property rights can be derived.)
On the other hand, no one has the right to come up and burn your flag, or someone else’s. That should be illegal, not because a flag is being burned, but because the arsonist is burning your property without your permission. He is violating your property rights.
For so-called conservatives and faux conservatives like Donald Trump, property rights take a backseat to “desecration” of symbols representative of the state. “Are we to make a religion of statolatry? What sort of grotesque religion is that?” writes Rothbard.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise Trump advocates locking people up for a year in a cage for burning their own property. He apparently has a dim view of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
In September, I wrote about Trump’s ignorance of the Constitution. He said he will protect Article XII of the Constitution. Problem is, there isn’t an Article XII.
“No one will ever mistake Donald Trump for a student of James Madison,” writes James Lowry. “The real-estate mogul has demonstrated about as much familiarity with the U.S. Constitution as he has with the Bible, which is to say, none.”
As Jess Walker notes, Trump’s flag burning tweet gives us an idea of what Trump will attempt to do after he assumes office in January.
It looks like a Republican majority in Congress will go along with him.