Who is more Patriotic – the Democrats or Trump?


It’s the time of the year when Americans think about the flag, and CNN have an op-ed this morning that wonders whether Trump’s narcissistic antics are making the Democrats seem more patriotic.

First off, does it matter? Well, if you aren’t into the minutiae of politics, then no. And don’t bother reading on. But, for those looking to make Democrats more attractive to swing voters than Trump and Republicans in 2018 and 2020, then patriotism has recently been a problem for Democrats.

Those of us who spend any time talking with ordinary working Americans know that many of them often vote against their own seeming best economic interests not least because Democrats have not been perceived as ‘muscular’ enough in their politics.

All too often, this appears to translate into a willingness to hurl American military hardware and software at the rest of the world. And to our eternal chagrin, many Democratic leaders have determined that the best response is to be more aggressive about parlaying American ‘patriotism’ into a readiness to intervene militarily around the world.

Personally, I don’t like violence. I don’t like war. And I don’t like the arrogance that suggests that we in the United States have the right to declare ourselves and our ideas as being more civilized than peoples who often had complex civilizations while our forbears were wandering around the forests of Europe wearing bearskins and blue paint.

But, in strictly political terms, I think this approach has been shortsighted. Right now, there is a populist upsurge among ordinary working folk in the US, where they don’t want to send their sons and daughters into harm’s way. Where they would rather the tax dollars were being used to nation-build at home.

More than this, I take the view that this narrow perception of patriotism is shortsighted and outdated. In 2009, as progressives and liberals were fighting hard to launch rearguard actions against uber-rightwing machinations by newly-elected Republican Governors in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, I wrote a song called Song of Solidarity, in which I attempted to define patriotism in a different light.

I link to the song. But please excuse the awful rendition. This was before voice lessons, fancy-smanchy professional recording studio engineering and pitch correction. But the lyrics paint the appropriate picture.

It is not supportive of our country to go to war. For sure, it is patriotic to offer the fullest support to those, often the most disadvantaged among us, who volunteer to man (and ‘woman’) the ramparts, and keep us safe. And certainly, when they return, especially if they do so in coffins or on a stretcher, we, as fellow countrymen and women, should look to our true patriotism to ensure that all of their needs are fully met. Without question, without the need for intrusive inquiry, and with all of the funds that we as the public can make available.

Patriots are ordinary working people, who sweat and bleed and toil and care. Who keep our country and our companies running, while others try to run them down. Patriots are not those who run away from their corporate responsibilities, or allow their factories and profits to run to lands abroad. They are those who invest in their fellow countrymen and women, and protect their safety net.

True patriots take care of all their responsibilities. To themselves and to their families. Taking home the paycheck at the weekend, rather than spending it down at the bar. As they give their home-based partner a break, and take the kids out to buy groceries for the week.

Genuine patriots think beyond themselves and even their families. They recognize obligations to their community. And to their nation. To those who need a helping hand. To those they cannot see. To those for whom a helping hand. A lift-up from illness. A step-up from poverty. Can only be achieved by contribution to the wider communal offering plate. For real patriots, ‘tax’ is not a dirty word. It is not something to be avoided with expensive lawyers. It is not something we delight in cutting without thought for the consequences. It is the opportunity to build a rigorous, strong and stable nation.

A fearless patriot realizes that the real ‘fight’ is not overseas. It is at home. Against ignorance. Against poverty. Against ill-health. Against bias. If patriotism is about strengthening the nation, then it is about empowering ‘strength’ in all the disparate threads of humanity that combine and intertwine to make the rich and diverse nation that is the melting pot of the United States. And that strength means nothing if it is not supported by compassionate, visionary, unbiased, fair and caring government, in all of its national branches, and down through the states to the counties, municipalities and rural regions.

I would be much more impressed if, this July 4th, I were to hear my Democratic leaders defining their patriotism in these broad, populist and inclusive terms, rather than the stale, narrow and testosterone-soaked language of the truly out-of-touch Republicans and their Presidential headbanger.

Published in: on July 9, 2017 at 7:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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