Patriotism is defined as “love of and devotion to one’s country; the passion which moves a person to serve his country, either in defending it from invasion or in protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions.” These days, I am hearing a lot of “if you don’t like what you hear, then leave this country.” I’m seeing a lot of flags a-flowing for one side of the aisle, but not as many on the other, with the presumption that one party has the sole right to claim greater patriotism. I’ve been feeling quietly enraged by this, and I’ve decided it’s time to try to verbalize why.
Last time I checked (and I just re-checked), our Founding Fathers established this country upon certain founding principles and ideals about our form of government, elected leaders, and citizens. America was created as a “republic”: It is us the people who are sovereign, the ultimate source of power. As an indirect democracy, we have elected representatives to refine, discern, and express our views and interests.
Our Founding Fathers also specified there should exist checks and balances, separation of powers, due process, and limited government. Engrained into our country’s early documents was the notion that there would be equality for our citizens and freedom of religion, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Principles of moral and ethical excellence were detailed, character traits such as responsibility, perseverance, respect, justice, honor, courage, moderation, and respect. Civic virtue and respectful discourse were considered important because the feeling was that we were all in this together.
These days we have puppet propaganda news outlets that subvert facts and influence swathes of impressionable people. We have a chaos president and his now-unrecognizable party whose primary tenets seem to be hate, corruption and the undermining of truth. As apologists for sexism, racism, and fascism, they incite violence, undermine our democracy, and systematically tear down everything that makes this country great. I’m not okay with that and neither should you be.
If we want to make America great again, we need to return to these very principles and virtues upon which this country was founded. I once heard it said about climate change that if we get complacent, if we don’t keep our eyes open to these daily atrocities and stay angry, we will normalize it. And then it will be too late. I know it’s hard to be wrong, tough to admit mistakes, painful to feel taken advantage of. But it takes even more moral courage and fortitude to change one’s mind and see what’s right.
I love this country. I am a patriot. I question things I see and hear that concern me, I lobby for what I believe in and I vote. I’m raising two boys to think critically, have integrity, an open mind, and independent thought. To understand our country’s history and to love it and have hope and belief in our collective ability to turn it around when it goes off-kilter. So, yes, I am patriotic. I may not walk around wearing red, white, and blue or a bright red hat all the time, but I cannot stand by and witness the erosion of our founding beliefs. So I continue to believe, hope, and pray that the tide will change in November.