Two Kinds of Patriotism

The Supreme Court has helped define two kinds of patriotism: One which defends against outside intruders and one which promotes the common good. We need more of the latter.

What's the Latest Development?


With two recent decisions, the US Supreme Court has helped define two different kinds of patriotism, says former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. In one, the Court upheld the right of Arizona police officers to demand proof of citizenship from people they stopped on other grounds. This kind of patriotism is about securing the nation from outsiders. In the other decision, the Court upheld a government requirement that everyoneeven the young and healthymust buy health insurance. This kind of patriotism, says Reich, is about coming together as a nation to provide for the common good. 

What's the Big Idea?

"This second meaning of patriotism recognizes our responsibilities to one another as citizens of the same society. It requires collaboration, teamwork, tolerance, and selflessness." That kind of patriotism is inconsistent with the rise of anti-government rhetoric, which seeks to place a larger burden on society's most vulnerable for ideological ends. "True patriots don’t hate the government... They’re proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve and protect it. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry then special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve the U.S. government, not destroy it."

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