The first flags in what is now the American state of California were those of the European colonial empires of the Spanish and Russians that explored and traded there. California became part of Mexico when that country gained independence in 1821. Alta California remained a northern province of Mexico until 1846 when the short lived California Republic was established. The flag during this period consisted of a white field with a single red star and the outline of a grizzly bear, formerly indigenous to the state, at the top left.
The words California Republic appeared below those symbols and a red horizontal stripe at the bottom of the flag. California was ceded to the United States from Mexico in 1848 after the Mexican-American War. California was admitted as the 31st state in 1850. The following year, in 1851, a 31st star was added to the national flag. California continued to see changes in the national flag until the present 50 star flag.
The state flag of California was inspired by the flag of the California Republic and includes a similar single red star and a red stripe along the bottom. A grizzly bear appears in the center with the words California Republic below.
The bear on the current flag was modeled after the last wild California grizzly bear named Monarch. Monarch was captured in 1889 and spent time in San Francisco zoos until his death in 1911, the same year the current state flag was adopted. The bear was mounted and is preserved at the Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to hit the like button.
Many religious voters feel alienated from the Democratic party. Donald Trump overwhelmingly won Christian voters, including 81% of White Evangelicals and 60% of White Catholics. The obvious reason is that Donald Trump offered these voters more of what they wanted like overturning Roe vs. Wade and appointing conservative Supreme Court justices, but there’s something bigger going on. Democrats often have trouble speaking in moral or religious language, and they’re part of a broader culture that doesn’t take religion seriously.
Democrats don’t know how to talk to a lot of these people that go to church. I mean the Democratic party has become a secular party.
So is the Democratic party really secular?
To a large extent, yes. 28% of Democrats don’t identify with any particular religion compared to just 14% of Republicans. And only one third of Democrats say they go to religious services at least once a week. Just 10% of Democrats weren’t religious in 1996. That number has tripled over the last two decades, and the trend is only likely to continue as more young people join the party. Pop culture can also be pretty hostile to religion. Some comedians, journalists and artists actively antagonize people of faith. It worries me that people are running my country who believe in a talking snake. You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate though. Partly as a response, Christians and other groups have formed their own subcultures of movies and music and news.
For instance, Trump voters really love the movie God’s Not Dead, which is a movie about religious liberty that a lot of progressives have probably never heard of. Something wrong? I can’t do what you want. I’m a Christian. If you cannot bring yourself to admit that God’s not dead, then you will need to defend the antithesis. Of course, a lot of Democrats are religious. Black Protestants for example have consistently supported the Democratic party, even though a lot of these voters are conservative on issues like same sex marriage and abortion. But their views aren’t always reflected in the party. Roughly one third of Democrats identify as pro-life, but only a handful of Democratic politicians share their views.
Democratic leaders can also be uncomfortable with the language of morality and religion. Sometimes, this has resulted in wipeouts that are insulting. They get bitter, and they cling to guns or religion. Other times, it’s just embarrassing. One White House staffer recently reported that a former colleague kept deleting the phrase “The Least of These” from the title of a memo wondering whether the famous teaching from Jesus was a typo. This is a shift from the past. Progressive achievements like the Civil Rights Movement relied heavily on religious rhetoric. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land. Leaders from Martin Luther King to Jimmy Carter framed their ideals in explicitly religious terms. Audiences were receptive to those messages. Some progressive leaders do this today.
Reverend William Barber, the head of the North Carolina NAACP has successfully led a Moral Mondays protest movement against the racist policies of the state legislature. I’m a preacher, and I’m a theologically conservative liberal evangelical biblicist. You could also argue that Bernie Sanders fired up millions of young Americans with his explicitly moral language about economic inequality. But both of these men are outsiders in the Democratic party. If Democrats really want to be the party of inclusion, it can’t just be about skin tone and sexuality, it has to be about belief, too.
Once the Civil War was over, the Republican party was bitterly unpopular among white Southerners, who wanted to maintain their supremacy over former slaves. So the Democratic Party promised to limit federal government intervention on behalf of black citizens. Democrats became effectively the only political party in the South, aided by intimidation and suppression of black voters. Democrats also won on the state and local level leading to constant abuses of the rights of black citizens. As the 20th century began, the country was changing, and the Democratic Party was changing too. A handful of individuals and corporations had grown enormously rich and powerful, using their vast fortunes to influence politics. As a reaction to this, some reformers began pushing an agenda of progressivism — arguing that the government would take more of a role in regulating big businesses and improving ordinary people’s lives.
At first, these progressive reformers were present in both parties. But it was Democrat Woodrow Wilson who won the presidency in 1912 and put much of this agenda into action, over Republican resistance. So the Democratic Party became the main home for progressives, and Republicans became more the party of business. But it was the Great Depression of the 1930s that sealed the Democratic Party’s new identity as the party of government activism. In an effort to combat the crippling economic situation, President Franklin Roosevelt signed what was then the largest package of domestic government projects in American History, calling it the New Deal. His administration dramatically expanded the size of government. Yet the party was still split over race. By the mid-20th century, it contained Southerners who staunchly supported segregation, liberal reformers trying to end it, and many politicians happy to look the other way.
But it was 1964 when the senate voted on the anti segregation civil rights act that shows how the progressive reformers in the party had gained the upper hand, steering the party away from its racists past towards equality.
But the democrats in the south voted against the civil rights act, remaining wedded to the idea of segregation. This chart shows the presidential vote of black voters. Around the 1960s the Black voters who had already been moving toward the Democratic party would begin overwhelmingly support Democrats from then on, and conversely the republicans would take a huge hit in black voter support. Meanwhile, white Southerners, moved away from the Democratic Party they had been loyal to for so long — in part because of race, but also because of suspicion of big government and a desire to defend “traditional values” against liberal activists. Democrats would go from dominating the South, to losing almost all influence in the region. Thanks in part to this drop in popularity among white voters, Democrats started losing elections, often losing by huge margins. But demographically, the US is becoming an increasingly non-white country, and the democrats have had a comeback thanks in part to minority voters. The huge influx of hispanic voters has especially benefitted democrats. These demographic shifts helped the Democratic Party, once the advocates of white supremacy and slavery to elect the first black president in 2008, showing just how much the party had changed over the years. Yet it’s still not entirely clear where the future of the Democratic Party will lie. But as America becomes more diverse, it’s likely that the democratic party’s appeal among minorities will continue to be its strength into the future.