Patriotism and Partisanship
I’ve noticed a troubling trend in patriotism lately. It would appear that those who live and breathe politics see patriotism as a partisan (or, at least, right versus left) issue. People hear the word “patriot,” and automatically assume that it’s code for “conservative.” They see some kind of covert plan to rebrand conservative ideology. Is it possible that patriotism has become aligned with one end of the political spectrum?
I had noticed it before, but didn’t realize how rampant it was until my book One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots came out. Suddenly, I was being accused of trying to indoctrinate children in conservative values, or even to hate liberals. This is, of course, ridiculous. The book is unabashedly patriotic, but it is in no way partisan. In a counting book of one through ten, the only number that could be considered at all values-based is number one; One Nation Under God. That is not a partisan issue. So, what is bringing on this confusion between patriotism and partisanship?
Let’s take a look at the dictionary to see what it has to say on the issue. Miriam-Webster defines patriotism as “love or devotion to one’s country.” Although we disagree on the best way to run our country, I would hope that people of any political affiliation would love it. What are we to think of a group of people who, upon hearing the term “patriotism,” assume that people mean the other party? Shouldn’t everyone, if they think it’s a partisan issue, assume that their party is the one which is thought to love America best and more? Apparently not.
Perhaps patriotism is being equated with American Exceptionalism. Conservatives seem much more ready to holdAmerica in esteem above all other countries than liberals. Isn’t it patriotic, though, to think one’s country is the best country in the world? I think it’s a symptom of the chasm opening up between the mindset of conservatives and liberals. It would appear that conservatives are proud to display their loyalty to America, flaws and all, while liberals seem more wont to view patriotism as undeserved blind allegiance to a flawed land.
An author’s views don’t typically enter into his or her work, and One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots is
no exception. There is nothing political about mine, unless one considers teaching children the basics of America to be a political matter. Seeing as these are things that are taught even in that bastion of liberalism, the public school system, this is pretty easy to refute. Even they are allowed, for the time being, to say “under God.”
The interesting thing is, the vitriol comes almost exclusively from the hyper-political on the left. I know many democrats who do not live and breathe politics who are proud to love their country. I’ve gotten feedback from some solidly left-wing parents that they enjoyed reading it with their children and cannot imagine what the fuss is about. There is a small (and, ostensibly, growing) group, however, which is quick to label patriotism as partisan. These people assume the worst and are quick to pull the fire alarm of right-wing indoctrination based on these unfounded assumptions.
This seems to go deeper than a difference that can easily be put aside. This isn’t a matter of Americans loving Americans but disagreeing how best to keep her great. This seems to be a matter of irreconcilable differences. If we aren’t all patriots, where do we go from here?