Although there of course are a few instances, ideas, and individuals that defy these general statements, I agree with Beinart’s general assessment of liberal and conservative patriotism. Beinart believes that conservative patriotism is a “patriotism of affirmation”, in which citizens are always looking to verify the past successes of our country. He believes that we should love and honor our country because of its history, because of our forefathers, and simply because it’s ours. Liberal patriotism, however, tends to focus on a better future. They see patriotism as a promise that the future will to redeem our past sins, and they believe that no matter what, American can always become greater than it already is. While conservatives center a lot of their attention around American symbols like the flag, liberals tend to focus on the American ideals about democracy, equality, and liberty.
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” While Obama believes we should feel blessed to have all the opportunities that present themselves in America, McCain believes that “The patriot must not just accept, but in his or her own way protect the ideals that gave birth to our country.” McCain emphasizes that we should constantly be protecting America’s liberty, equality, and democracy given to us by past citizens by reminding us of lives lost to give us these opportunities, and he even encourages his readers to enlist in the U.S. armed forces.
Which seems closer to your idea? outline some problems that exist with the different versions.
I think that the liberal patriotism seems closer to my idea, although I do not agree with it in its entirety. I do not agree with loving America because of what it stands for—I think part of being patriotic is just being proud of your country because it’s yours. The extreme liberal beliefs in America’s ideals create a dilemma when they conflict with our self-interest, because hurting America for the benefit of another country would be considered unpatriotic.
Problems exist with conservative patriotism as well. By focusing so much on the past, conservatives fail to plan ahead for the future. They fear that ignoring our past accomplishments will lead to the belief that our country can and should be easily improved, which will then only lead to disaster and a worsening of our problems. But if we only focus on our successes and do not look at our past and current problems, how will this country ever improve? Only focusing on our accomplishments and ignoring America’s sins could also turn the patriotic beliefs into nationalism, and while the excessive nationalistic devotion would play to America’s best interests, it then completely ignores the best interests of the rest of the world. Believing that multiculturalism hurts our own nation’s culture seems a bit ridiculous as well, since America is a diverse country of various cultures, which is what makes our country so unique. A very small percentage of our citizens’ ancestors were actually Native Americans; everyone else has at least one family member that immigrated into America.