Robert Reich: The Five Principles of Patriotism

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By Robert Reich

We talk a lot about Patriotism, especially around July 4th, but we need also to take to heart its five basic principles.

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First: True patriotism isn’t simply about waving the American flag. And it’s not mostly about securing our borders, putting up walls and keeping others out.

It’s about coming together for the common good.

Second: Real patriotism is not cheap. It requires taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – being willing to pay taxes in full rather than seeking tax loopholes and squirreling away money abroad. Not just voting but becoming politically active, volunteering time and energy to improving this country.

Third: Patriotism is about preserving, fortifying, and protecting our democracy, not inundating it with big money and buying off politicians. It means defending the right to vote and ensuring more Americans are heard, not fewer.

Fourth: True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of their country and know the government is a tool to help us solve problems together. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve our government, not destroy it.

Finally, patriots don’t pander to divisiveness. They don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divisions. They aren’t homophobic or sexist or racist.

To the contrary, true patriots seek to confirm and strengthen and celebrate the “we” in “we the people of the United States.”

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

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Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Republished here under a Creative Commons License from RobertReich.org.

© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.