All Donald Trump is doing is taking the politics of division mastered by Barack Obama and putting it on steroids. This is a fight I don’t think the left can win. Intrinsically, it does not matter what race or ethnicity you are, asking someone to take a knee to the flag or be on Trump’s side is ridiculous and undermines the left’s case.
In addition, most people understand Donald Trump is now dictating the left’s actions. They are literally on their knees before him, whether they consider it a protest or not. There is no way the left can win this. Every response they have benefits Donald Trump as he divides up the country into a constituency for re-election.
The problem, of course, is that there is no way for the country to win. The politicization of everything will breed and foster both growing resentment and cynicism. Concurrently, the growing authoritarianism in the right, which seeks to punish those who would protest the flag must have Antonin Scalia rolling over in his grave.
The protestors have a right to protest. I do not have to agree with their protest or how they are doing it, but they have that right. The President, though, is perfectly within his rights too to call them out. Blaming the President for politicizing the situation is nonsense. He did not start this.
But there is a line between calling them out and trying to stop them and we get more dangerously close to that line. The NFL is a private organization that has the right to stop its players from doing what they are doing. If they do not want to, we do not have to watch, but we cannot and should not make them.
Sadly, the situation is now one where everyone is forced again to pick a side. The player protest may find them all out of a job, though I suspect the left would rather shake down the NFL than end the NFL. Still, the fans have picked their teams. Now they are asked to pick their team or the flag. That is a greater ask than most will be willing.
People used to find common ground on the field. Differences could be overcome with love of play, love of team, and love of a Sunday afternoon or a Monday night. Now politics invades there too. Culture, once upstream from politics, now sees politics flowing backwards. Both pollute each other and the water of American discourse must be boiled.