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What's The True Meaning of Patriotism?

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: americans, candidates, constitution, corruption, dishonesty, economy, elections, ethics, freedoms, Govtfearmongering, healthcare, lies, media, military, politics, propaganda, republicans )

- 2159 days ago -
True patriots don't hate the government of the United States. They're proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve it. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much-->

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 12:29 pm

Recently I publicly debated a regressive Republican who said Arizona and every other state should use whatever means necessary to keep out illegal immigrants. He also wants English to be spoken in every classroom in the nation, and the pledge of allegiance recited every morning. “We have to preserve and protect America,” he said. “That’s the meaning of patriotism.”

To my debating partner and other regressives, patriotism is about securing the nation from outsiders eager to overrun us. That’s why they also want to restore every dollar of the $500 billion in defense cuts scheduled to start in January.

Yet many of these same regressives have no interest in preserving or protecting our system of government. To the contrary, they show every sign of wanting to be rid of it.

In fact, regressives in Congress have substituted partisanship for patriotism, placing party loyalty above loyalty to America.

The GOP’s highest-ranking member of Congress has said his “number one aim” is to unseat President Obama. For more than three years congressional Republicans have marched in lockstep, determined to do just that. They have brooked no compromise.

They couldn’t care less if they mangle our government in pursuit of their partisan aims. Senate Republicans have used the filibuster more frequently in this Congress than in any congress in history.

House Republicans have been willing to shut down the government and even risk the full faith and credit of the United States in order to get their way.

Regressives on the Supreme Court have opened the floodgates to unlimited money from billionaires and corporations overwhelming our democracy, on the bizarre theory that money is speech under the First Amendment and corporations are people.

Regressive Republicans in Congress won’t even support legislation requiring the sources of this money-gusher be disclosed.

They’ve even signed a pledge – not of allegiance to the United States, but of allegiance to Grover Norquist, who has never been elected by anyone. Norquist’s “no-tax” pledge is interpreted only by Norquist, who says closing a tax loophole is tantamount to raising taxes and therefore violates the pledge.

True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve it. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve the U.S. government, not destroy it.

But regressive Republicans loathe the government – and are doing everything they can to paralyze it, starve it, and make the public so cynical about it that it’s no longer capable of doing much of anything. Tea Partiers are out to gut it entirely. Norquist says he wants to shrink it down to a size it can be “drowned in a bathtub.”

When arguing against paying their fair share of taxes, wealthy regressives claim “it’s my money.” But it’s their nation, too. And unless they pay their share America can’t meet the basic needs of our people. True patriotism means paying for America.

So when regressives talk about “preserving and protecting” the nation, be warned: They mean securing our borders, not securing our society. Within those borders, each of us is on our own. They don’t want a government that actively works for all our citizens.

Their patriotism is not about coming together for the common good. It is about excluding outsiders who they see as our common adversaries.

By Robert Reich | Nation of Change|

Past Member (0)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 12:39 pm
I could not agree with you more about your last point, the very wealthy and very powerful corporations do seek only to increase their own wealth by securing borders for their own profit and care nothing about securing our society. We must take money from our military and feed our people, we must take money from our military and house our people. This is what a compassionate society does, it does not seek to destroy life with the ultimate in advanced weaponry while it's people sleep on the streets twisting and turning in hungry suffering.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 1:27 pm

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“For those who may not find happiness to exercise religious faith, it's okay to remain a radical atheist, it's absolutely an individual right, but the important thing is with a compassionate heart -- then no problem.”
Dalai Lama

“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and the wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.”
Dr. Robert H. Goddard

No, these are not quotes to rally a nation that believes its' primary function is to wage war, that its wealth is for the few, that patriotism is not love of country but love of money. We have a lot of growing up to do, caring for each other could be our focus, a primary goal, then we would clean up this planet, care for those in need, once again be an example for others.

Roseann d (178)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 1:53 pm
True patriots wouldn't let foreign corporations and investors influence our elections...or any corporation for that matter...So that rules out the 5 treasonous traitors on the Supreme Court as patriots.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 2:04 pm
Patriotism on a good day is a mixed bag. There will always be those who serve their nation for the benefit of all its citizens and there will also be those who hide their hate and their prejudice behind the flag. Patriotism is too good to be rid of it, but too bad in application to fully justify it.

Terry V (30)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 3:19 pm
Life is about choices.

Antonia Windham (6)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 3:32 pm
For some conservatives, I think the article's correct. But for others, I think it's unreasonably prejudicial. What many forget is that not everyone sees the same situation in the same way. If one's a belief that something will work best for society, promoting that is compassion, even if others don't agree. In my life I've known dedicated communists who genuinely, truly, and wholeheartedly believe communism's the best and most compassionate form of government for all. Others I've known just as genuinely believe a fully free-market system with low taxation and few social programs and voluntary charity will best promote happiness and prosperity for everyone. And I've known many who have genuine beliefs all in between those two extremes. One of the more compassionate people I know holds the belief that forcing everyone's children to be indoctrinated into Christianity is in the world's best interests and would make everyone so very happy and have such good lives. To him saving souls is the ultimate in compassion (which makes sense given his belief in the everlasting rewards that come with soul-saving). I've a profound disagreement with his assessment of the situation, needless to say. But I don't doubt his goodwill or his compassion. But he's dangerous all the same - as is anyone who's so very certain, no-doubt-about-it-at-all, that they have the true and certain answers. In fact, when it comes to those I've a reasonable suspicion hold views I strongly disagree with, I prefer to deal with hypocritical sinners rather than pure-as-the-driven-snow committed compassionists and helpists. It's harder to fight the honest ideologues.

Just because some're not of the same mind as you doesn't mean they're evil or stupid or lack compassion. In some cases it's just that they see a different and, to them, better way to show compassion.

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 4:50 pm
Patriotism is over rated,, just my opinion,,, they lie to these kids to get them to sign up for wars we do not belong in.

Michael T (82)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 5:02 pm
There is a striking resemblance here in plot that is similar to a time earlier in the previous century. Some of you will think me off my rocker for suggesting it perhaps. If we boil what the republicans are doing, if we look to who they idolize for direction we see what some could easily call a corrupt master.

The masters here are both real air breathing people and also systems such as lobbying/

What we see before us are a group of thinking intelligent men who have chosen to follow and obey a corrupt master.

For me it wouldn't be difficult to consider those taking the oath to Norquist and those willing to ruin the country simply to unseat and incumbent president should be up on charges of treason. The men who supported Hitler were of the same bend of mind. Granted, the GOP hasn't killed anyone and aren't causing people to march through the streets wearing brown shirts smashing the shops of the Jew, but they are guilty just the same.

Later, many generals realizing and knowing they had signed on for one thing and now found themselves supporting a corrupt master, grudgingly went along with the directives of the corrupt master.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 5:41 pm

Since JFK, Obama is the first president to actively promote the idea of service to the country, Carter tried, but it was a shaky time. Those who had served the Peace Corps were older and though many were actively seeking volunteers on college campuses, many felt disenfranchised after Vietnam and the Nixon debacle. I think it's a fair, swap, serve the country in some way, and get the education you want. Minimum of 2 years, in Peace Corps idea. That's patriotic in a positive way.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 6:00 pm

umm... My last comment isn't here? I was watching Bill Maher the other night and he interviewed Kirk Douglas about a book he wrote. Kirk Douglas said things happening now remind him of the McCarthy years, I don't think he's off on that.

Terry King (113)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 6:30 pm
Unfortunately, patriotism is being used as a stalking horse for the advancement of a group of ultranationalistic jingoists!

Eternal Gardener (745)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 7:07 pm
Quoting R. Barr :"What I will do is ask the richest among us from the top down to make the sacrifice. They caused this problem and profited from it. They need to step up and put their patriotism before their profits in order to continue to live in this country. That includes what’s-his-name from Facebook [Eduardo Saverin]. You guys pay your fair share and then we won’t have any deficit. We won’t have any unemployment and we won’t have any people who don’t have health care. The richest among us simply must be patriotic and pay their fare share, and we will then have no problems here any longer".

Antonia Windham (6)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 8:03 pm
What I'd enjoy seeing is some of the very richest members of Congress (the progressive compassionate ones who're most emphatic about the need for the 'rich' to pay their 'fair share') to voluntarily pay what they're asking that others be mandated to pay. Ones like Pelosi (D) (who's now 12th richest, with over 35 mil.), Dianne Feinstein (D) (who's now 9th richest, at 45+ mil.), Richard Blumenthal (D) (who's now the 8th richest, with 52+ mil.), Lautenberg (D) (7th richest at over 55 mil.), Jared Polis (D) (6th richest, 65+ mil.), Mark Warner (D) (5th richest at 76+ mil.), Jay Rockefeller (D) (4th richest, 81+ mil.), and John Kerry (D) (193+ mil, 3rd richest).

Amazing that two-thirds, 8 out of the top 12 richest, in Congress are Democrats. That's a lot of voluntary giving to the government coffers that could be done by those progressive compassionates. To be that overwhelmingly rich while so much need's abounding in this country....

Robert B (60)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 8:22 pm
Patriotism is: To allow all citizens to vote. To make sure EVERY child has a good education and is protected from harm. To want to help the lowest on the ladder of success to move up. To want to make sure EVERYONE is treated equally under the law. To make sure ALL laws are just. To abhor favoritism, cronyism, nepotism. To judge a person by their character, not by their ethnic background. To want to end the death penalty. To want to rehabilitate prisoners, not merely punish. To want to make EVERYONE'S life better, not just the wealthy. To want ALL people access to universal, single payer health care. To not force any particular Religious views on anyone. To want to help your fellow humans. THAT'S what Patriotism is.

Michael T (82)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 8:33 pm
@Antonia writes: What I'd enjoy seeing is some of the very richest members of Congress (the progressive compassionate ones who're most emphatic about the need for the 'rich' to pay their 'fair share') to voluntarily pay what they're asking that others be mandated to pay. Yada yada yada, To be that overwhelmingly rich while so much need's abounding in this country...

Antonia, I’m not a democrat. I know that most of the folks on Cap Hill are wealthy, Dems and Repubs alike, and a large proportion of both sides are millionaires and up. I realize that there are benefits to being an elected legislator in this country that keeps one from feeling the sting in one way or another.

I have noted how the Dems aren’t really in the game this time so much. It is because the public have begun to see that both sides don’t represent us much at all anymore, and that many Dems are just as guilty of class war as anyone the other side and know they risk exposure. You want to blame it on the Dems and Progressives? Have at it. But it is both sides of the aisle that are really wrong for what this country needs.

Glenn Byrnes (196)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 12:37 am
Noted. Thank you for posting this wonderful article.

Georgia L (209)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 1:13 am
Michael, you aren't far off with the comparison with Hitler's rise to power. They have elected one openly neo-Nazi in Pennsylvannia to local office.

Patrice M (84)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 4:35 am
Kit, thank you for posting this article. Robert Reich is one of the few honest men left in government.

Patriotism, I would add, is also NOT dividing our country into groups that are acceptable and groups that are not. The assaults on government workers, women, LBGT people, minorities, students, non-Christians, and the poor are unacceptable. We are all Americans, and the prevailing right wing intolerance is hurting the entire country.

Arielle S (313)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 10:08 am
A mouse in the cookie jar doesn't make him a cookie - and all the flag-waving, posturing, red, white and blue spewing out of the mouths of the GOP does not make them patriotic - merely fanatical. I saw Kirk Douglas, Kit, and I, too, think he was spot on - and much more truly patriotic than most of Congress...

Kit B (276)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 10:50 am

American exceptional-ism, sounds like another way of saying we are better than you. Many great empires came before us and others will come after. Because we once encouraged the idea of independent thinking over "group think" we combined the best ideas and did accomplish some remarkable things. Those were government projects like NASA, Hoover dam, TVA and so many others. Many corporations came together to help finance these projects, were paid a profit and the project was/is then operated by the government. It's an easy cop-out to say the government can't do anything, when in fact the government for it's size operates rather well. Tell a lie enough times and people will believe it, this is true for so many things.

Susanne R (235)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 12:22 pm
Robert Reich has a gift for presenting the facts in a very logical and understandable way. I think this article is among his finest. What bothers me immensely is that wealthy, self-serving individuals question that patriotism of those who question their actions. It's a way of keeping people quiet --because no one wants to be accused of being unpatriotic. Remember the focus on patriotism after 9/11? How many times did we hear George W. Bush say, "You're either with us, or against us." But the individuals who have the courage to speak out about what they consider to be an injustice ARE true patriots. The very religious were once able to have people burned at the stake for dissenting opinions or for not walking in lockstep with THEIR personal beliefs and expectations. People were afraid to disagree with them because doing so could cost them their lives. Patriotism comes in many forms, and no one has the right to judge another person's actions or opinions. Personally, I'd be more interested in learning a person's true "motives" and then decide if they're patriots or simply using patriotism as a means to an end.

Great article, Kit, and some really great comments!

John B (185)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 12:35 pm
Thanks Kit for posting Mr. Reich's, on target to the point article. the GOP's attempt to remake (destroy) this country into what they want it to be by rewriting history, fabricating stories of our founding Fathers being "Christians" and distorting facts to suit their agenda is horrifying to me. What I find absurd is that there are people who will believe this crap and Fiction News Nutwork promotes it. These people aren't patriots. They are greedy creature who crave power. Read and noted

Past Member (0)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 12:58 pm
Making appeals to patriotism has often been a means by which the American people have been led to support policies that are counter to their interests and to the best interests of the nation.

Christeen A (369)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 1:31 pm
Our current government is out of control.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 1:55 pm
The 1st thing we need to do to correct the false patriotism in this country, is to stop pledging allegiance to the flag and if we must pledge allegiance to anything, it should be to the Constitution!!

Kit B (276)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 1:57 pm

Thanks for your comment Suzanne, as always well written and directed to the topic and hand.

@Christeen - This government has been out of control for 30 years and each administration just increases the power of the president, and the corporations.

Patriotism is just another form of indoctrination propaganda.

Christopher Fowler (82)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 2:35 pm
Kit, I have to disagree. What you have defined is the perverted version of Patriotism and your definition is no better that the version that you are opposing.

Patriotism is never an easy thing to define, but here is My definition:

Standing by your country and it's founding principles, in this case, the US Constitution.
Loving your country right or wrong, as a parent loves their own child, because it is always growing and will sometimes make mistakes.
Owning those mistakes so as to not repeat them; not ignoring those mistakes in the name of being patriotic, as the extreme right is prone to do.
Standing up when the government has become corrupted and working for a better government when the disease of corruption has taken hold, just as stated in the Declaration of Independence.
Being willing to give all for the greater good of your nation and it's people, in protection of the rights of all citizens, without regard to any differences.
Being both willing and able and following through, to tell the truth in all things as regards yourself and your nation and not being so afraid of the consequences as to allow yourself to be corrupted by the things that are in need of fixing.

Antonia Windham (6)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 2:58 pm
No, Michael T, my comment wasn't put there as 'blame' for the Democrats. It was posted as a bit of irony - for the 'progressives' who seem to have difficulty understanding that their heroes often've leaden soles and their consistent lambasting of conservatives (while exempting their fellow liberals from lambast) isn't exactly rooted in reality.

And of course to highlight how those in power who often preach the loudest often don't walk the walk. Watching hypocrisy's fun and highly instructive!

Kit B (276)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 3:50 pm

Okay Christopher, let's look at some of your list:

***Loving your country right or wrong, as a parent loves their own child, because it is always growing and will sometimes make mistakes.

>>>Loving our country right or wrong has led to some catastrophic consequences, most recently the invasion of Iraq, which killed about 5,000 young American soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of Iraq's because far too many followed the piper. I can go on with the war issue, but I think you know how many I can list.

***Standing up when the government has become corrupted and working for a better government when the disease of corruption has taken hold, just as stated in the Declaration of Independence.

>>> I fully agree, sadly we are so divided by partisan politics it's become an extreme lefty or righty thing to stand up and demand the government, stop messing with ours rights and selling out their votes to corporate money influence peddling.

***Being willing to give all for the greater good of your nation and it's people, in protection of the rights of all citizens, without regard to any differences.

>>>These days it's really difficult to discern the definition of "the good of the country" -- I realize full well that most of us would die to protect the freedoms, rights and responsibilities of the Constitution... Yet, here again, I ask, isn't the constitution about us, we the people? It was, but look at what's happening in our country. People are not just trying but forcing their chosen religion on others, corporations have a strong and undue influence on law makers, there a set of laws for one group and another for other groups. Even the right to vote is being tampered for fear some might vote the "wrong" way. That of course, leads us to gerrymandering, if you can't win a vote, redraw the district. Too big to fail, certainly not the American people, they are failing in mortgage payments, failing to afford food, failing to find a job.

No, I don't think I'm corrupted by looking at what is real all around us. Patriotism, is in large part indoctrination, being told and seen from childhood that even men shed a tear when the "Star-Spangled Banner" is played, or "Taps" is playout during the funeral of a soldier, the beauty of the flag waving in the breeze, it's a conditioned response. We are trained from childhood to respond to these representations of our country.

I'm not saying that is a bad thing, only a real thing. The idea that the US is the best, that only in America....that our democratic republic is the right way to govern, all is propaganda. It's good for the country when we all on the same page. When we are not things get twisted, turned into things that were not meant to be, but are nonetheless.

Gene Jacobson (290)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 4:15 pm
There's nothing to add to this, Kit. Except my thanks. Noted AND appreciated. Why can't we vote for YOU? :^) gene

Kit B (276)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 4:57 pm

Thanks Gene, I prefer to study history, science and math, not running for office and accepting bribes. Is it a requirement, no but I think it's all to easy to tell yourself, 'just this once.' Then it's a gotcha!

Michael T (82)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 5:06 pm
Green Star for you Kit. Well said.

Wednesday June 27, 2012, 5:21 pm
Excellent article Kit, it almost seems like all the Republicans care about is wanting to destroy America!

Mary Donnelly (47)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 5:50 pm
Thanks Kit--gret post and comments.

wendy webber (28)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 6:44 pm
Thanks, great article. I think it is patriotic to think and problem solve not only question authority butt to challenge it

Yvonne White (229)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 7:40 pm
It seems to me that the most Patriotic are the people who vote, even when there's no Hope of Change for the good, who keep trying, even when idiots running everything only reward incompetence, who keep living, even when politicians openly wish them dead!:(
Patriotism is easy when it's cheap...politicians Make it cheap with hollow words & dirty wars..NO government should ever be Allowed to USE it as a weapon against it's own citizens!!!!!

Kamila A (141)
Wednesday June 27, 2012, 10:07 pm
If patriotism is the excuse used to create the war machine Cheney /W unleashed on the world, then it is plain wrong. Our allegiance should be to the well-being of our families, communities, and country only as our country supports our well-bemg, the way the founding fathers intended. What we are facing is a hijacking of our country by the extreme right, the wealthy sociopaths who use lies and clever tactics to steal this country from the people. I hope there are more citizens who can discern this than there are ignorants voting against their own best interests

TomCat S (129)
Thursday June 28, 2012, 9:28 am
According to Henry David Thoreau, the truest patriots are those who serve the state with their conscience.

JL A (281)
Thursday June 28, 2012, 10:19 am
Sounds like some want to refashion history to make Nixon a hero--the administration who argued that patriotism meant defending the country whether it was right or wrong............

Michael T (82)
Thursday June 28, 2012, 10:30 am
Thanks @Antonia for the clarification.

@JL A writes Sounds like some want to refashion history to make Nixon a hero--the administration who argued that patriotism meant defending the country whether it was right or wrong............

Yes it is interesting to see a cross section sample kind of of how people frame what their approach to patriotism is.

Gloria H (88)
Thursday June 28, 2012, 9:36 pm
I never did buy the "My country, right or wrong" attitude. It should be My country which will right the wrongs... and I don't mean revenge either. I was heart broken to hear Santa, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy didn't exist, but I was more upset when I realized the country I thought I was living in was really OZ.

Phil R (29)
Monday July 2, 2012, 6:32 pm
True Patriots don't glorify the government or a flag. These things are just tools and symbols. True patriots treasure freedom, equality and tolerance. They're concerned about their fellow citizens who may not be as prosperous as they are. If their government screws up, they're not too proud to speak out and make things right.
Patriots don't wrap themselves in the flag and march in time to anthems. They realize that it's the people that make a nation, not the government.
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