Nearly a third of Americans describe themselves as “extremely patriotic,” and the number has been steadily on the rise since 1999, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.
As the nation heads into the Fourth of July weekend, 32% of Americans are feeling “extremely patriotic,” up 6 percentage points from 2005 and 13 percentage points from 1999.
The poll finds that the biggest gains on the patriotic front are among Republicans, conservatives and seniors. The number of Republicans and conservatives who describe their patriotism as running high has increased 24 percentage points since 1999. Part of that increase may be driven by the . As USA TODAY’s Susan Page points out today, 85% of Tea Party followers describe themselves as extremely or very patriotic .
No surprise there. But what do we mean by “patriotic”?
You fly the flag on National Holidays? Empty gesture. You’re telling your neighbors, who are also Americans, that YOU are American, too.
You wear a flag pin? Empty gesture. Should your patriotism be judged by your actions, or by your choice of “bling”?
You salute during the Pledge or the Anthem? Empty gesture. Anyone can do that, even cloistered Russian spies living among us in the suburbs.
Do you follow the news not the RNC press releases regurgitated by to develop your own sense of what’s going on in America? That could be patriotic.
Do you have a desire to “do so something” for folks in trouble? Folks harmed by the oil spill? Folks still recovering from Katrina? That could be patriotic.
When your elderly neighbor is mowing her lawn on a hot day, do you offer to help? That could be patriotic.
Do you study the issues and THEN vote? That’s VERY patriotic.
So, what do we mean by “patriotic”?
Is it “patriotic” to buy up a bunch of fireworks that are illegal in your state and shoot them off for the six nights BEFORE the 4th and the 8 nights AFTER? Or is that just the typically American “love of blowin’ stuff up and scaring my dogs”?
Is it “patriotic” to refer to your lawfully elected President with racist terminology? To call him a “socialist” when you don’t even know what that word really means? To compare him to Hiltler? Stalin? To equate him with America’s enemies?
Is it “patriotic” to follow the “teachings” of , to fear and hate and plot your revenge armed or otherwise against the lawfully elected government of the United States?
Is it “patriotic” for a bloated, drug-abusing radio dimwit like to insist that YOU protest on the streets to protect HIS wealth?
Is it “patriotic” for well-dressed surburanites to throw money at a man with Parkinson’s disease and demand that he seek a “handout” somewhere else?
Is it “patriotic” for middle-aged to elderly white folks to gather at the Capitol, spit and hurl racist epithets at elected members of congress, demanding government “get their hands out of our health care” while insisting on increased Medicare benefits and Social Security?
Is it “patriotic” for a candidate for congress to use poorly costumed actors representing figures to presume that they would agree with your xenophobic, anti-tax, anti-immigrant, anti-everything agenda and call for armed revolution, as in, “Gentlemen, GATHER YOUR ARMIES”?
Is it “patriotic” to foment hatred against people of a different religion when this country was founded on the very basis of freedom of (and, therefore by logic, FROM) religion?
Is it “patriotic” at a time when your taxes are at their lowest level since the Truman administration to scream about “high taxes” without being willing to sacrifice the things YOU like that the government pays for? Your Medicare? Your Social Security?
Is it “patriotic” to call the unemployed “lazy” and “spoiled” after the previous administration’s economic policies nearly caused a new ?
Is it “patriotic” to say that your country was founded by a Christian God who is losing patience with our “wicked ways” and that AIDS, Katrina, 9/11 and now the oil spill are his “judgment” for our not being Jesus-y enough?”
Is it “patriotic” to twist the words of our nation’s founders to make them appear to be when, in fact, so many of them were anything but?
Is it “patriotic” to say that the war in Afghanistan is “a war of Obama’s choosing” that “America did not want to prosecute” even though the war was started in the days after 9/11 by President Bush, who abandoned the war to chase after ghost WMDs in Iraq so he could “show up” his daddy by getting rid of Hussein?
Is it “patriotic” to gather in the Capitol Mall in DC and demand of others that they “take their country back” from the lawfully elected government by armed force if necessary?
It seems very odd to me that so many Republican and Tea Party activists refer to themselves as “extremely patriotic” when, in fact, their words, their signs, their actions demonstrate a hatred for this country, its democracy, its legally-elected government.
Is this just more “newspeak” ala Orwell’s “1984″ where “Treason” is redefined as “Extreme Patriotism”?
I guess it all depends on who gets to write the history books of the future. If the Texas Board of Education gives us any clue of how that will go… “patriotic” Americans should be trembling with rage at the thought.