I’m embarrassed to admit that I currently live in the putrid city of Seattle. However, I’m originally from a small rural community in West Dakota, so I feel a special connection with Eastern Washington.
But there’s more to Washington than Seattle and Eastern Washington. This project is for all Washingtonians.
In fact, I’d love to hear from people who live outside Washington, especially people who have been involved in efforts to adopt new state flags. Different perspectives can be a source of inspiration.
The Washington Flag Revolt is but a part of something much bigger.
A Brief History
Far from a static roster of symbols, the fifty state flags are constantly evolving. Some began as colonial or territorial flags. Some began as battle flags.
Even after statehood, a number of states have modified their flags. Amazingly, some modifications have made some pretty horrendous flags even worse. Take my native South Dakota’s state flag, which now resembles a billboard.
In 2001, the North American Vexillogical Association (NAVA) rated the fifty state flags, along with Canada’s provincial flags. Washington’s flag was ranked 25th among state flags, after New Jersey. (See the survey results.)
Washington State Flag
I began playing with designs for a new Washington State flag more than two decades ago, even before NAVA’s state flag survey. However, I never made a serious attempt to promote the idea of adopting a new state flag until I ran for the office of Washington State Governor in 2020. I launched this website as part of my campaign.
To the best of my knowledge, no one else has ever made a serious attempt to change Washington’s flag.
Efforts to adopt a new Minnesota state flag have been underway since at least 1989. In that year, a beautiful “North Star Flag” was proposed by two flag specialists. In 2001, it won an unofficial contest sponsored by the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.
Though legislators have stalled, the North Star Flag has become an alternate state flag for many Minnesotans. See Minnesotans for a Better Flag.
In 2019, Maine lawmakers introduced a bill to adopt a simpler state flag, based on the original 1901 design. The bill was killed, but there are hopes that Maine will adopt a new state flag during its bicentennial in 2020.
Among the fans of Maine’s original flag are Original Maine. However, some have stated a preference for an alternate design.
Efforts to change the flag of neighboring Massachusetts are currently underway as well. Though the design isn’t that bad, the symbolism is widely regarded as racist. See Change the Massachusetts State Flag.
Charges of racism are also putting pressure on flags representing Mississippi, Georgia and even Maryland. However, the criticism of Maryland’s flag is probably an example of political correctness gone too far. The design is a symbol of post-Civil War reconciliation.
At any rate, there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell that Marylanders will part with their uniquely beautiful banner.
In the 1990’s, Georgia’s state flag, which featured the Confederate battle flag, was in the eye of a storm. In 2001, a new flag was adopted, but the design was even worse. In fact, a 2001 survey conducted by the North American Vexillogical Survey (NAVA) rated it the worst of all state flags.
In 2003, Georgians adopted yet another flag. Ironically, it resembles the national flag of the Confederacy.
After Georgia changed its flag, Nebraskans found themselves in an embarrassing position—dead last.
Efforts to adopt new state flags are generally initiated by private citizens but stalled by reluctant legislators. In Nebraska, it’s the other way around. Nebraska legislators have made efforts to change the state flag, but citizens stubbornly cling to the existing design.
It would be interesting to do a scientific study on flag psychology.
Farther west, Utahns are currently agitating for a new state flag. In fact, the nicest website promoting a new state flag may belong to the Organization for a New Utah Flag. However, they’re promoting a specific design, rather than a statewide contest.
Trying to guess when Washington might adopt a new state flag is pointless.
It would likely take a few years to generate enough interest to motivate a legislator to introduce legislation. Moreover, the bill would probably be defeated the first time around.
However, there’s no law forcing us to pay homage to an aristocratic slave owner. The First Amendment gives you the right to adopt any flag you want, any time you want. You may not be allowed to fly an unofficial flag over a courthouse or school, but you can certainly fly it over your home.
The revolution has already begun, and you can easily become a part of it.