Blogger face-off: What is patriotism?

by John Hawkins | July 4, 2010 12:01 am

“I shall know but one country. The ends I aim at shall be my country’s, my God’s and Truth’s. I was born an American; I live an American; I shall die an American.” — Daniel Webster[1]

In a nation like the United States, which is the greatest nation that’s ever existed since God breathed life into the dust and made man, few things should be more common than patriotism. After all, when one of the greatest gifts a human being can be given is to be an American citizen, it should be easy to love your country and even easier to define it. Still, nothing is ever quite that simple, is it? So, let’s talk about what American patriotism is and what it is not.

* No political party or ideology has a monopoly on patriotism. There are patriotic conservatives, liberals, Republicans, and Democrats. That being said, it would be a mistake to assume that since there are patriots of all stripes and ideologies, that each group is equally patriotic.

* Patriotism is not merely waving the American flag or putting a flag pin on your coat, although patriots often do those things. It’s also worth noting that patriots don’t sneer at displays of patriotism either.

* While an American patriot can certainly have a high regard for people of other countries and a genuine concern for mankind, there’s no question that America should come first. Just as you can’t effectively serve two masters, you can’t be a “citizen of the world” who wants to see the United States shackled to the whims of the “international community” and also be an American whose first concern is for his own nation.

* A real patriot’s love of country does not go in and out like the tide based on which political party is in power. So, if you’re only proud of your country because a politician you like is in charge, then your “pride” does not rise to the level of patriotism.

* A real patriot has great respect for the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and the military. Take any of them out of the equation and not only would this cease to be a great nation, it’s quite possible we wouldn’t be a free nation at all today.

* Patriotism is not the same thing as being blind to the faults of your country. All nations, America included, fall far short of perfection. Acknowledging this does not diminish anyone’s patriotism. On the other hand, a true patriot also won’t blow America’s flaws up until they’re larger than life while minimizing our nation’s voluminous accomplishments, the goodness and decency of America’s people, and the unrivaled positive impact our nation has made on the world.

America, along with capitalism and Christianity[2] has been one of the greatest forces for good in world history. When you understand that, take pride in it, see how it benefits you and your family, and want to see it continue to be the case, it’s very easy to love your country.

  1. Daniel Webster:
  2. America, along with capitalism and Christianity:

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