Senator Mark Warner
Mark Warner [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Liberals are reclaiming patriotism from the right

We will remember 2017 as the year patriotism started to acquire a new vitality and force among Democrats — and the year that the GOP lost control of its narrative. We have President Donald Trump to thank for both of these things.

Over the past decade, patriotism has been out of vogue among many liberals. Rituals like saluting the flag were largely left to those serving our country at home and abroad through military or government service. Meanwhile, pledges of allegiance conjured memories of school assemblies.

Republicans, in contrast, wrapped themselves in the mantle of patriotism. Open love of country justified the party’s claim to moral authority and united its members. Drive through America and you know when you’ve entered Republican strongholds by the number of flags displayed. Despite its embrace of anti-big government ideologies, the GOP managed to preserve its reputation in the eyes of its base as the party of national fidelity.

Trump stands to change all that. Our 45th President has spoken and acted in ways that for millions test the basic definition of what it means to be a patriot: someone who loves one’s country and acts with its best interests in mind. Like the many authoritarian rulers he so admires, Trump seems intent on making public office serve his personal desires and goals. He has done very little to resolve the conflicts of interest with his business concerns, leaving the impression that private profit comes first and national well-being second.

It’s typical of this spirit that the holiday Trump invented to “strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country” (the “National Day of Patriotic Devotion”) coincides with his own inauguration.

The ongoing Trump campaign-Russia investigation, which has placed his stewardship of the nation under a cloud of suspicion, is merely the most obvious sign of his dereliction of patriotic duty. He’s cultivated a fawning relationship with a man who openly aims to unseat our country from global leadership — Russian President Vladimir Putin — even leaking intelligence about terrorist operations to senior Russian officials while granting Putin’s request to receive them in our most holy civic temple.

When it became known that he had excluded our national press corps from the Oval Office meeting while allowing a Russian photographer access, it seemed to many Americans another sign of loyalties that did not seemingly lie with the country he took an oath to serve — and certainly a gamble with our national security and intelligence allies.

The GOP’s partnering with and pandering to Trump in these circumstances will likely cost it patriotic credibility. Republican leaders have given the President carte blanche to attack the democratic institutions that have long defined the country. We’re the land of the free, but they stay silent as Trump maligns the judiciary, national security and intelligence communities, and the press. We’re the home of the brave, but they stay loyal as Trump calls one of our top leaders — John McCain, a former POW, a loser.

Read the entire essay at CNN

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