The Definition of Patriotism
Michael Waldman is a nationally prominent public interest lawyer, government official, teacher and writer. He became director of the Brennan Center in October 2005.
Mr. Waldman was Director of Speechwriting for President Bill Clinton from 1995-1999, serving as Assistant to the President. He was responsible for writing or editing nearly 2,000 speeches, including four State of the Union speeches and two Inaugural Addresses. Previously, he was Special Assistant to the President for Policy Coordination (1993-1995). Mr. Waldman was the top administration policy aide working on campaign finance reform, one of the Center's signature issues, and drafted the administration's public financing proposal.
He is the author of several books, including My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of American Presidents (Sourcebooks, 2003); POTUS Speaks: Finding the Words that Defined the Clinton Presidency (Simon & Schuster, 2000); and Who Robbed America? A Citizens' Guide to the Savings and Loan Scandal (Random House, 1990).
Prior to his government service, Mr. Waldman was the director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch, then the capital's largest consumer lobbying office. After leaving the White House, he was a Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government (2001-2003), teaching courses on political reform, public leadership and communications. Most recently he has been a litigator in private practice in New York. Mr. Waldman appears frequently on television and radio to discuss public policy, the presidency and the law. Michael Waldman is a graduate of Columbia College (B.A., 1982) and New York University School of Law (J.D., 1987), where he was a member of the Law Review.
Topic: The definition of Patriotism
Michael Waldman: To me, patriotism is one of the most powerful and one of the most important emotions there is. It’s what has helped guide my life and why I work in the work I do, and why I worked in public service, and why I’ve tried to help the country live up to it’s ideals in the work I do now as a lawyer. Patriotism doesn’t mean being jingoistic. It doesn’t mean putting other people down. It means believing in your own country, which means believing in the people of your own country. And in the case of the United States, it means believing in the ideals of a country. It’s been said a lot that the United States is very unusual that we were founded not based on land, and not even based on religion, or ethnicity the way a lot of other countries were, but a basic set of ideals. And if you adhere to those ideals, if you believe in the Declaration of Independence, if you believe in the Constitution, then you’re an American. That is a very powerful idea. It’s the most basic and universal idea there is. And if you get excited about that, you’re patriotic, whether you wear a flag pin or not.
Michael Waldman explains a very powerful force in our country.
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