This is our new state flag, like it or not

By: 
John Mueller

Even here in New Prague, we’ve started to see a few of the new state flags flying, some of them so new you can still see the crease marks from where they were folded for packaging.

Gov. Walz put out a video on X – we used to call it Twitter – in which he sat down at a desk and noticed the old state flag behind him. He awkwardly scrambled to replace it with the new flag. If The Gov was trying to be funny, he failed. If he was hoping to jab the people who believe the new design was a case of a politically-motivated change, or worse yet, change for the sake of change, he succeeded.

Whether you like the new state flag and new state seal or not, they are here to stay, at least until opponents gather enough political muster to prompt another revision. But other than to show those who get back at those who supported the change in an example of political gamesmanship, what would that really accomplish other than for one side to demonstrate it can be just as self-serving and closed-minded as the other?

The new state flag is a proud of example of clip art. As approved and presented, it is the latest display of one side of the spectrum trying to put forth an idea without offending anyone, an effort which often leads to someone being offended. It raises the idea of whether or not a change was really necessary. The previous state flag had been adjusted in an effort to mollify those who saw it as an offense to Indigenous Americans. Some Native Americans who served on the committee which recommended approval of the new design said it promoted erasure of their people from the land.

It should be noted the image on the old state flag was tweaked, softened, in the early 1980s. That process probably didn’t draw as much ire in a pre-social media world. The new version is so simplistic, it lacks any character, any connection of what makes Minnesota unique. That is one person’s opinion. The new state seal, however, is just the opposite. It includes images of Minnesota’s natural resources, its state bird, water, forests, agriculture and the north star. Had they placed the state seal in the middle of the new flag’s light blue field, it would have been a more acceptable design. Again, one guy’s opinion. You are welcome to have yours and we will defend your right to do so.

There are those who claim the new design should have been approved via public referendum, a suggestion which sounds better than it could possibly be. Imagine the advertising campaign for and against the new design the two sides could have waged. No doubt, a ridiculous amount of money would have been spent. And besides, do we really need state representatives and senators if every controversial bill needs a public referendum to become law?

The selection of the new flag was overseen by a committee which selected the most desirable options from a field of entries. Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) said an analysis shows 75% of Minnesotans do not approve of the approval process for a new state flag. Democrats, the folks Minnesota voters have selected by a slim margin to run this state, for now, controlled the committee. As the tired old cliché goes, ‘elections have consequences.’ Maybe if the GOP softens its stance on some key issues, it might find itself in charge when the dust settles after the next round of elections.

Some want the design to be decided by a statewide election, a referendum on the design. According to the Minnesota House of Representatives’ website, but what might that cost? A lot more than the $35,000 the state spent on the approval process.

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