Bush used what he called patriotism as a wedge to defend his disastrous policies. But he was not being patriotic he was being nationalistic. The difference between the two are often conflated by those like Bush and Cheney that want to use the word patriotism for political ends.
- follow leaders blindly even into the abyss.
- break the Constitution and justify any illegal actions like spying on Americans and torture usually in the guise of “security”.
- try to stamp out free speech when legitimate opposition speaks out and think free speech is a right for corporations.
- wantonly squander the lives brave troops to fight wars for their political and financial goals.
- demonize the UN and has disdain for the international community.
- claim American exceptionalism even when they use it as an excuse to not follow American ideals.
- want to bring this country back to the 1850’s when this nation had many more social injustices just to maintain a false sense of control.
- simply ignore problems and just say things like we have the best healthcare system in the world when it is far from true.
- use slogans like “Country First” but demonize the opposition and destroy political discourse at the detriment of the country.
- disdain community and sacrifice for the greater good.
- do blindly following political leaders, we support them when you agree with them but speak out when you do not.
- follow the Constitution and rule of law.
- believe in free speech and when America does something wrong speak out against it.
- cherish the lives of brave troops and only sent them in to harms way when necessary as a last resort.
- embrace the international community and want to work together for peace.
- believe America is only exceptional when we live up to our ideals and prove we are exceptional like becoming the first majority ethnically European country to elect a half African president.
- want to progress as a nation to make it a more perfect union for all it’s citizens by constantly fighting social injustices.
- do not ignore this nation’s problems but tries fix them to make America a better place.
- do not use politics as a wedge to divide people.
- believe in shared sacrifice for the good of the country.
Nationalists are born out of nihilism, the worst kind of cynicism, these people want no progress and believe in an unfettered ruling, economic and social hierarchy. They use patriotism as a cudgel to make people conform to the status quo. The worst thing Bush did right after 911 was say all we needed to do was shop and blindly follow. That was not a call to patriotism but the same selfish greed is good Reagan nationalism.
Of course there is nothing wrong with being proud of America and a patriotic American. But true patriots are proud of America when we live up to our ideals. Patriots are born out of the principles this country was founded by during the “Age of Enlightenment”. Everyone should periodically read this countries founding documents along with the writings of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. So you do not get too starry eyed in the Utopian views of the “Age of Enlightenment” thinkers I would also hone up on my Voltaire by reading “Candide” and read Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” to get some perspectives about the limitations of any human society and inherent imperfections of our system. Then we should read about and know our history of progress and yes setbacks so we really understand what being a patriotic American is all about in full context. Trying to constantly examine how we got here, where we are and the possibilities for the future and act on it is the best way to show our patriotism.