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Opening Arguments

Progressive patriotism

Just what I need the day after Memorial Day -- E.J. Dionne hectoring me on "true" patriotism.

If the 2008 election is to be a debate about the true meaning of patriotism, then bring it on.

[. . .]

Yet Obama cannot simply cede the terrain of patriotism to McCain, and progressives should not assume that patriotism is somehow a bad thing, akin to jingoism or nationalism.

The reaction of too many progressives to patriotism is "automatic, allergic recoil," say two young Seattle writers, Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer, in their important book "The True Patriot."

Instead of recoil, they offer rigorous standards for what patriotism should be. "True patriots," they write, "believe that freedom from responsibility is selfishness; freedom from sacrifice is cowardice; freedom from tolerance is prejudice; freedom from stewardship is exploitation; and freedom from compassion is cruelty."

[. . .]

A competition between Obama and McCain over who can issue the most compelling summons to service would serve the country far better than an empty rhetorical skirmish over which of these candidates is the true patriot.

To these guys, freedom is a wonderful thing, but you have to celebrate it by giving it all up, dedicate your life to public service, sacrifice for the common good, lose yourself in the masses. I thought I had long moved on from the need to take comfort in Ayn Rand. Perhaps not.


Tue, 05/27/2008 - 10:39am

Silly progressives. True patriotism is wearing a flag pin, and/or starting a blog, where you fight in the "war of ideas."

Tue, 05/27/2008 - 11:26am

I am a little confused here. Isn't patriotism devotion and sacrifice of one's self to one's country? The classic patriot is the soldier who dies fighting for his country.

Such a soldier "giv[es] it all up, dedicate[s] [his] life to public service, sacrifice[s] for the common good, lose[s] [himself] in the masses."

I can't imagine an Ayn Rand protagonist becoming a soldier in any modern army.

Bob G.
Tue, 05/27/2008 - 12:52pm

These uber-liberals are patriotic....they just labor under the auspices of "their own, unique" interpretation OF patriotism (or is that a form of socialiism?), which differs vastly from the tried and true meaning of the word, as we have come to know it.
Then again, they live in their OWN world, but that's OK, because everyone knows their name there.

Yeah Doug, try as I may, I can't quite convince myself that John Galt would go so far as to pick up a rifle and march through some crappy terrain in the pursuit of patriotism.
Still, he was a "fighter" in some fashion, albeit more like the "underground".


Tue, 05/27/2008 - 3:06pm

Rand's protagonists are unapologetically "selfish." That is sort of the point of objectivism. I don't see how an objectivist protagonist could be convinced to serve in the infantry of a D-Day style landing where he's being asked to, in all likelihood, sacrifice his life for the well being of his country.

Patriotism is a collective concept.

tim zank
Tue, 05/27/2008 - 8:20pm

I think you guys may be "overthinking" this one.....


Merriam Webster

Main Entry: pa