My country and I have always had a love/hate relationship with each other. The old bumper sticker about “I love my country, but I fear my government” has long been a favorite of mine, especially in my younger years. But a few things have caused me to rethink the idea of patriotism, and if I really want to be considered one.
The word patriot is defined as ” a person who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country”. It’s a loaded term. Lately, the term has been taken by much of the right-wing neo-con corportocracy that passes for media in this country. After 9/11, questioning the government was seen as unpatriotic. Speaking out about the questionable reasons for going to Iraq was Un-American. It was a flashback to the old days of McCarthy and Communist witch hunts. I was raised in the era of Nixon and Carter. I’ve read too much history to ever let someone lead me and not question them. The first two things I can remember seeing on TV are the helicopters on the roof of the embassy in Saigon, and the Watergate hearings. Being labeled a patriot at that time felt like a lie.
Then came Obama. The night he was elected felt like a sigh of relief. I was hopeful about a president for the first time since Clinton. I was also tempering that with the reminder of how much damage he did to this country, as well as good. Yes, he fixed the economy, but he also wrecked the media in this country. So there was a new reason to be called a patriot,and be proud to be one.
Flash forward to 2014. Obama has been under siege by so-called patriots for six years. All those asshats who called me Un-American are crying foul every time someone dares to disagree with them for lying about the President. It’s amazing how they can walk upright without falling over from all the reversing of their positions about sanctity of the presidency.
Obama is not making it easy to defend him,though. Allegations about the NSA, our continued drone program, and too much time wasted trying to make nice with those opposed to him. It’s rough to defend him sometimes. Don’t bitch about the ACA to me,though. Yes, it’s making my family’s life harder.But until you can come up with a better solution(I have one), I don’t want to hear it.
So where does that leave a frustrated liberal like me? Do I quit the country I love, and quit defending it in word and deed? What do I tell my daughter, who’s been taught to respect veterans and the sacrifices the ones in her family have made? Do I leave defending this country to those who are willing to do so blindly?
Two events this weekend made me change my mind on this. The first being the hockey game I attended today. It was called a salute to heroes, and featured tributes to service men, police, and first responders. It featured an immense flag, and people all around me cheered for it. SO many people cheering a flag, and not reading the ideals behind it. I bet half of them have read what Jefferson thought about us being a Christian nation, or that he wrote a version of the Bible with Jesus taken out of it. But it was nice to see people who risk their lives for others being honored. I felt glad to see people who you usually only see on the worst days of your lives being feted.
I felt good about that patriotism, and not just because fire departments,police and standing armies are socialist concepts. The founding fathers didn’t believe in standing armies, that’s how we got the nightmare of the Second Amendment. Yes you have a right to guns, but my kids have a better right to not die from your incompetence and lack of responsible laws. What made me feel good was remembering that this was a country that did great things not just as individuals,but as a society. To me, the so-called greatest generation’s best thing were programs like the WPA and Social Security, not kicking Hitler’s tush. And we didn’t do nearly as much of that as the Russians did,and look where it got them.
I have to be a patriot,honestly, to fight against the other kind of patriot. What kind? The kind that publishes garbage like the book I saw Saturday. It’s called ” The People have Spoken( and They are Wrong):The Case Against Democracy. Yes, I fully admit I haven’t read it. I don’t know If I want a book on my Kindle that might cause me to damage it. But really, how can you run a website called the Federalist, named after a document by one of the Founding Fathers, and then argue against democracy. That’s not patriotism, that’s nationalism. That’s a very different thing. That’s not fighting to make your country remain true, that’s fighting for your country just because you happen to live there. That’s the kind of thinking that leads to wars.
Yes, I’m a patriot. But I won’t let other people decide what that is. I will fight for my country, but for the ideas that made it great. And not just the Constitution,because that can be changed,and has been several times. There’s a reason our forefathers put that mechanism in place. They knew that times would change, and that the Constitution had to as well. Want a country where God is most important, and the rules are set in stone from when the country was founded? No thank you,sir. I’ve seen those places. They’re called Iran and Afghanistan. And I bet most of those blindly decrying their rights here wouldn’t last two seconds over there before converting to save their skins.