Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Will the Bands Play On?

Maybe it’s the sea of American flags. Or perhaps it’s the patriotic marches. But a Harvard University study has concluded that annual patriotic parades may actually cause children and adults to support more right-leaning, conservative causes and candidates. U.S. News and World Report carried the study:

“Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation’s political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party,” said the report from Harvard.

“The political right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols during the 20th century. Survey evidence also confirms that Republicans consider themselves more patriotic than Democrats. According to this interpretation, there is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican Party. Fourth of July celebrations in Republican dominated counties may thus be more politically-biased events that socialize children into Republicans…”

The study says that while Democrats also participate in these parades, it’s the Republicans who enjoy the long-term support. If July 4 celebrations are attended before a child turns 18, the likelihood of him or her identifying as a Republican later on increases by 2 percent. But, it’s not only about the children. The likelihood that parade watchers will vote for a GOP candidate is increased by 4 percent. Actual voter turnout is even said to increase by 1 percent, with the chance that these individuals will dole out political contributions increasing by 3 percent.

The report, written by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam, finds that the aforementioned results don’t simply last for a short time, then dissipate:

“Surprisingly, the estimates show that the impact on political preferences is permanent, with no evidence of the effects depreciating as individuals become older. While this is certainly not good news for Democratic candidates (many of whom, like their Republican counterparts, attend these events for the public relations and electoral benefits), the study provides intriguing information that helps Americans better understand how political inclinations are formed and impacted.”

The Tea Parties have certainly discovered the efficacy of joining in Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day parades. If a fire department holds a parade, they should inquire about attending those as well. One of our local tea parties is marching in Ridgewood, N.J.’s 4th of July parades. There are a lot of “don’ts” on Ridgewood’s list, but at least the Tea Party will get some exposure, without the incredible of effort of staging a rally.

Take it from a long-time parade musician, marching is less labor-intensive, at least in the long-run, than trying to stage an outdoor rally. Bureaucrats help make rallies more difficult. But at least the Tea Party doesn’t have to try to organize the parade; they just have to show up – and it’s guaranteed they’ll be seen by lots of people, especially if the weather is good.

I’d like to join North Jersey Tea Party on their parade, but I’ve been booked for years now with my marching band. Carrying an American flag would be easier than carrying the bells, but not nearly as musical. It would be cooler, too. I wish Morristown Tea Party would apply to march in the Chatham parade. My band might even be stationed in front of them.

The Progressives have been trying to discourage march music for years now. My first high school band director and his assistant hated it. They insisted music was just a form of propaganda, to get everyone in a positive mood for battle. Marches are very upbeat and will get you in the mood to do anything from housework to marching in 90 degree heat on the Fourth of July.

Needless to say, the Progressives haven’t approved of all this positive patriotism. They’ve done their best to remove patriotic music from Fourth of July fireworks concerts. The Ramsey Wind Symphony is scheduled to play at 8 p.m. this evening at Finch Park in Ramsey. For the last two or three years, the organizers (one of whom is a notorious Liberal) has managed to squeeze the band off the schedule.

Whether the band goes on tonight is anyone’s guess. They’ve been advertised as part of the show and the organizers gave Ramsey’s director, Charles Yassky, their solemn vow that the band will play. We’ll see. I hope the Bergen County Tea Party sees this blog and goes to the park tonight (8 p.m. for the concert) in support of the RWS and patriotic music.

There are no fireworks or bands of any sort in Bloomingdale this year, due to “budget constraints.” For the same last two years, the Bloomingdale Band has not played, although the fireworks still went on and a DJ was present to play some decidedly unpatriotic rock music. Well, not “unpatriotic”; just music that had more to do with freedom of sex rather than freedom in general.

On Monday, I will be playing with my band in Florham Park and Chatham for their annual Fourth of July parades. Chatham, in particular, has some of the best, most patriotic crowds anywhere. The scene is just a sea of American flags all the way down the street. We’ll see if we can get a photo of the crowds at a point where the parade usually stops. Either Ellyn the piccolo player will take, I’ll take it and hand my bells to an assistant, or hand my camera to one of our assistants.

The sight, in all the many years we’ve done this parade, has never ceased to stir my patriotic spirit and love of America. This is what it’s all about – all the rehearsals, all the miles we’ve marched, all the heat and tired feet we’ve endured – to see those people packing both sides of the street, cheering us on and waving their American flags.

The American flag is the best-looking flag in the whole world and I never tire of seeing it, whether atop a high flagpole, waving in the breeze on a sky-blue day, or by the hundreds waved by little hands, old hands, young hands, and hands of every color and shape. My father never approved; he thought it was jingoism. But Dad was your typical, jaded journalist. Mom knew better. She said that it was okay to wave the flag on the Fourth of July and to pay no attention to Dad.

Still, we need to beware of the Progressives on this matter. They’re looking for a way to take the joy out of our Fourth of July celebrations. They’ve pretty well managed to remove the music at the concerts (though not the flags). The parades appear to be their next target.

Our band will play on, though. Look for us in Florham Park and Chatham. We’ll be looking for you, proudly waving your American flags.

God Bless America!!


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