Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values. This attachment can be a combination of many different features relating to one's own homeland, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects.
Nationalism is a political, social, and economic system characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining sovereignty (self-governance) over the homeland. The political ideology of nationalism holds that a nation should govern themselves, free from outside interference, and is linked to the concept of self-determination. Nationalism is further oriented towards developing and maintaining a national identity based on shared, social characteristics, such as culture and language, religion and politics, and a belief in a common ancestry.
Having a bearing or demeanor befitting a president; dignified and confident.
Having or showing a tendency to tell people what to do in an autocratic way.
Please consider the above within the context of the following statement, issued by the current President of the United States:
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better."
Again: "He INSISTS that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the National Anthem."
For me this is not a debate about whether or not anyone believes people should stand for the National Anthem - I know good people with strong beliefs on both side of that argument. Instead, this is an issue of the President issuing decrees - and meting out penalties, and publicly deriding individual US citizens - that are outside his scope of power. It is not for the President to tell any of us how to freely express ourselves. It is not for the President to publicly berate US citizens when he doesn't like their opinions, behaviors, or points of view. It is not for the President to make comments about how publicly or privately held US businesses treat (or penalize) their employees.
NONE OF THAT IS OK.
I feel like it's important to be clear on what this particular President is doing right now. He isn't fostering patriotism; he is promoting nationalism. He isn't upholding Constitutional rights; he is quashing freedom of speech. He isn't setting an example of honor and dignity; he is serving as a politically divisive figurehead. He isn't making America great again; he is persistently bombarding us with ideas and behaviors that chip away at ideals we have, until now, held as uniquely American beliefs. He is numbing us to his particular brand of authority so that we find ourselves pushing back against it with less and less enthusiasm. He is making this our new normal.
NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL.
We can agree to disagree. That is the beauty of this place. And it seems like we need to remember (or learn) - with a fair degree of urgency - how to disagree with civility and grace. I am working on this every day because I know that I've not always been a bridge so much as I've been a barrier to productive, honorable dialogue. Let's not allow a perversion of "patriotism" further the divide that so many political leaders have widened. Let's push back, every day, against these attempts to cow us. Let's demand more from the men and women we've entrusted with the safety, security and prosperity of our country.
Remember that they work for us. Ultimately, the power and authority lies in OUR hands. Keep pushing. Teach your kids what it means to be free, to be a patriot, and to honor the values of our country. Remind yourself everyday, too. There is too much at stake to get tired now.
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."
- George Washington