I read an article recently that got me thinking about what patriotism means. In recent years, it has become a bone of contention between those on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Love of our country and the American flag have been claimed by conservatives. I would like to suggest that liberals love our country no less than conservatives though we may have different thoughts on what patriotism means.
Typically, these days I google everything. So I googled, “how do you define American patriotism?” I got a lot of food for thought. Here is some of what I found.
“Patriotism is what bonds citizens of a country together regardless of other distinctions. American Patriotism is a loyalty not to a party or president, but to the American Constitution and founding values.”
I also came upon a list of ideas related to patriotism that parents should teach their children. This list included such things as our basic freedoms, our core democratic values, our responsibilities as citizens, honoring our military, appreciating our diversity, knowing we’re not perfect.
I myself have run the gamut in my political leanings. I was a history major at the University of Wisconsin during the upheaval of the 60’s. I was no radical but I did come away with a revisionist view of history. That is, I rejected traditionally held beliefs about particular historical events. I brought these ideas to the high school level when I taught in upstate New York during the 70’s.
Of the four areas of study required by the state of New York, I focused my teaching on two areas of our curriculum, the “Constitution and Bill of Rights” and the “American People.” I felt strongly that my students needed to understand the underlying principles and structure of our form of government as well as the rights of all citizens. I emphasized the importance of voting.
Instead of just teaching about our colonial roots and about European immigration which is all that was required then, I thought it important to cover the history and accomplishments of African Americans, Native Americans and women. Back then covering other groups such as Asian or Hispanic Americans wasn’t even on the radar. These were fun topics to cover because it was easy to make them relevant.
In the 80s I worked in New York City in environments which were quite liberal. Then in the 90’s I married my husband, Floyd, who was very conservative. I started watching Fox News with him. Then we began listening to talk radio. To learn more I read a great many books by conservative authors, many of whom are considered right-wing. By limiting my sources of information I found my point of view changing.
After Floyd died, I started reading and watching a much broader range of news sources and non-fiction. I realized at heart I’m a liberal. While I think of myself as a centrist Democrat now, I must admit I am leaning more to the progressive point of view as the pandemic, economic failures, and social justice issues have laid bare the inequities in our country.
While my views on policies and politicians have run the gamut I think that I have always loved my country no less than any others. To the Republicans in this community, I want to say that Democrats are patriots too.
I have thought about putting out an American flag by my house but wonder if that will be interpreted to mean that I support President Trump. Where we should all be able to agree to disagree, we need not assign motives for displaying our nation’s flag.
So I am a proud Democrat and I will put my flag out. I welcome other Democrats to do the same. And I hope that in so doing those who disagree with me on many issues will agree that we all love our country.