Get ready for the onslaught. The next few months will inundate our senses with red, white and blue signs, claims and counter claims in the news, media ads by your favorite and not so favorite politicians. Special interest groups and political parties will all be trying to convince us that they and they alone have our best interests at heart. Some of these messages may even question our patriotism, implying if we don't agree with their side we are not being patriotic. Which got me to thinking; what does it mean to be patriotic?
Webster's defines a patriot as "A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests". Fair enough, I don't think anyone would argue with that and most people would consider themselves patriots by that definition. But I don't think that goes deep enough. This simplified version opens the door to what I would call "fake patriots". Americans who follow one political party without question, listen to media moguls that only present one side of the story, or wrap themselves in slogans like " America, love it or leave it". To me these individuals are fake patriots. It's not that easy.
The second definition in Webster's has a little more meat in it. A patriot is a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government. Like I said, it's not that easy. We need to take an active role in maintaining our liberty and freedoms our founders fought for. Quoting a line from Naomi Wolfs book Give Me Liberty, she writes "The founders did not create liberty for America, but America for liberty". So being a real patriot takes some work.
As real patriots we need to study the tough issues and problems that face Americans. We must become better informed so we can discuss candidly and without prejudice to find answers to these problems. Real patriots will not squander the liberty and freedom so many Americans have fought and died for. John Kennedy said "The unity of freedom has never relied on a uniformity of opinion". Lets not quit fighting for the freedom to express those opinions. Being a patriot is not easy.