Patriotism: A Long Answer To A Short Question


Category:  News & Politics

By:  docphil  •  6 years ago  •  10 comments

Patriotism: A Long Answer To A Short Question
Patriot: a proud supporter or defender or his or her country and way of life.

I recently wrote an article in which one of the comments that I made was “I consider myself to be an American patriot”. In one of the responses, by a conservative member of Newstalkers with whom I have had constructive discussions and respect for, asked the question, “….what has the president done to affect your patriotism?”. As I thought about the question, I realized that the answer that I had to give was much more complex and much more extensive than that which I would give in a paragraph or two. I, therefore, decided that a post talking about patriotism might be a better way of explaining my position, and, in fact, hearing from other newstalkers, what their positions might be. This could be interesting, since it may, in many instances, show how much the left and the right actually agree on a substantive issue.

According to the Encarta North American Dictionary, a patriot is defined as “a proud supporter or defender of his or her country and its way of life”. It is, by definition, a broad, all-consuming definition. It can include many things. A patriot may be one who serves his or her country as a member of the military or a member of law enforcement. It may be a person who serves his or her country by service to the citizens of the country {teachers, physicians, nurses, firefighters, first responders, etc.} It may be a person who serves through providing funds to charities that benefit other Americans or provide time to volunteer to aid others In projects such as Habitat for Humanity. It may be the local school board member or borough councilperson who serves the community for little or no remuneration, or it may be the coach of the local little league team, the person who saves a life by inventing something seemingly minor. The list hardly touches the surface of what patriotism and being a patriot is. There is little here that is divisive.

What it doesn’t talk about is liberalism, moderation, or conservatism. It does not equate patriotism with political ideology or political policy. It doesn’t talk about the negatives of what makes a person not patriotic. But even here, we can identify some general positions we can agree on. A person cannot be an American patriot if he actively spies for another country and shares important secrets with that enemy. An individual is not a patriot when he or she calls for the violent overthrow of the government. The person cannot be a patriot if they encourage the assassination of American leaders. A person cannot be a patriot when s/he uses his/her personal influence, power, or wealth, to adversely affect the lives of other Americans. A person cannot be a patriot if they espouse racism, or any other mass hatred of groups singularly based upon who they are. Patriotism cannot be measured from the perspective of individual greed at the expense of the greater good. Patriotism cannot be claimed when hatred supersedes acceptance.

Why this long introduction to the concept of patriotism? Because it is not a political action. The liberal, the conservative, and all those in the middle can be patriots. Actions that one group finds outrageous is looked upon as a patriotic act by another group. While one group may find kneeling during the national anthem an “unpatriotic” action, another group may find the action highly patriotic and even a sign of respect for the flag of the United States. Is it patriotic to express our first amendment right to peacefully protest our belief? Is it patriotic to own and legally use a firearm? Many believe that it is, and is guaranteed by the second amendment, yet others feel that it is unnecessary. The point is that both the kneelers at the national anthem and the responsible gun owner can be and probably are equally patriotic. What we are having is a debate over policy, not patriotism.

Now, to the question of what does the Trump Presidency doing to the concept of Patriotism? The question is answered, not in a discussion of agreement or disagreement with Presidential policy. That fight is rendered during every presidential term. The problem with this administration is not based in policy. My side lost. I hope that we win back the house and possibly the Senate this year and the presidency in 2020. But that is another debate.

The argument here is whether the President and his administration are meeting the definition of the term “patriotism”? The simple, broad definition of patriotism must be placed in question by the actions of this administration. Whether or not it is ultimately found to be true, the president is under investigation for illegally conspiring with a foreign country to affect a U.S. election and is he and his administration actively working to obstruct justice in this investigation? Whatever the result of the Mueller investigation, Trump’s interference in it is unpatriotic.

By our own definition, this administration’s actions {not policies} toward legal and illegal immigrants, especially as it is regarded to the separation of children from their parents. This administration also has been both accused and judicially supported for suppressing voter turnout in the next and future elections.
Ultimately, the argument about patriotism doesn’t revolve around what the president does to me or any other individual. It is whether he is being patriotic in the sense of the accepted definition of patriotism that has been followed for 242 years of American history. I sense that there are too many cases where this president’s true patriotism has to be questioned, not only for me but for 340 million other Americans.


jrDiscussion - desc
Sophomore Quiet
1  author  DocPhil    6 years ago

There are many ways to define patriotism......I am trying to get us to see what patriotism is and how it often is in conflict with policy decisions

Dismayed Patriot
Professor Quiet
1.2  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  DocPhil @1    6 years ago

Patriotism: noun - the quality of being patriotic; vigorous support for one's country.

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." - Mark Twain

"Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first." - Charles de Gaulle

"You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it." - Malcolm X

I think that's really what it comes down to, true patriotism is not "My country, right or wrong". True patriotism is loving your country and countryman so much you would speak out when we are headed the wrong way.

And I find the quote from Charles de Gaulle especially prescient when he mentions the "nationalism" that masquerades as patriotism but is the refuge for hatred, xenophobia, homophobia and Islamaphobia.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2  Perrie Halpern R.A.    6 years ago

Dr. Phil,

I don't believe you have to support your president to be patriotic. I think it is love of country. I have rarely liked a pres most of my adult life but I love my country. 

Junior Quiet
3  Spikegary    6 years ago

An individual's patriotism is not tied to the presidency.  I didn't think President Obama was very patriotic, simply my opinion.  I am patriotic, as I have lived here and served my nation and have lived in other countries, I find the USA to be far and away the best and have and continue to be willing to protect this country.

Steve Ott
Professor Quiet
5  Steve Ott    6 years ago

The discussion and fight about patriotism has been ongoing since at least 1772. The founding fathers and their followers only became patriots because they won a war. (Perhaps this is why America has been at war for most its existence.)

Patriotism is in the eye of the beholder, as is beauty.

Patriotism is the great bludgeoning tool of the patriotic right. Patriotic Correctness  The left can't seem to find a coherent vision of patriotism.

Patriotism has a definition in the dictionary, but is in fact a rather amorphous term. As Humpty Dumpty once said. “When  I  use a word,...it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you  can  make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Sophomore Quiet
6  author  DocPhil    6 years ago

We each have competing or, if you will, opposing thoughts about policy. The reality is that we have remarkably similar thoughts about patriotism. The problem that I see is that we have substituted policy differences for whether or not people are patriotic. I can either agree or disagree with all or most of the policies of a political party but it doesn't affect my patriotism to this country. The one thing that I know is that I can speak up against policies and politicians I don't agree with. I always have the chance to vote against those policies without recrimination. I do question the current administration, mostly because of the complexities of their scattershot foreign policy. Our country, however, will survive anything that happens because the great majority of Americans, democrat, republican, or independent, conservative, moderate, or liberal, Christian, Jew, Moslem, etc. will come together, because, ultimately our patriotism will overcome our policy differences.


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