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Robert Reich: The Five Principles Of Patriotism – OpEd

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We talk a lot about Patriotism, especially around July 4th, but we need also to take to heart its five basic principles.

First: True patriotism isn’t simply about waving the American flag. And it’s not mostly about securing our borders, putting up walls and keeping others out.

It’s about coming together for the common good.

Second: Real patriotism is not cheap. It requires taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – being willing to pay taxes in full rather than seeking tax loopholes and squirreling away money abroad. Not just voting but becoming politically active, volunteering time and energy to improving this country.

Third: Patriotism is about preserving, fortifying, and protecting our democracy, not inundating it with big money and buying off politicians. It means defending the right to vote and ensuring more Americans are heard, not fewer.

Fourth: True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of their country and know the government is a tool to help us solve problems together. They may not like everything it does, and they justifiably worry when special interests gain too much power over it. But true patriots work to improve our government, not destroy it.

Finally, patriots don’t pander to divisiveness. They don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divisions. They aren’t homophobic or sexist or racist.

To the contrary, true patriots seek to confirm and strengthen and celebrate the “we” in “we the people of the United States.”

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.


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Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

One thought on “Robert Reich: The Five Principles Of Patriotism – OpEd

  • July 4, 2016 at 11:09 am
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    Hope you and others have a great and safe fourth of July too. But I have some comments about this piece. I think the Secretary and the Professor needs to go back and read Veblen’s theory of imperialism. In that theory Veblen had done a magnificent job in connecting US imperialism to patriotism. The government is using patriotic fervor for achieving imperialist ends. For example, the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya was always associated with massive patriotic propaganda in order to have people support these adventures aiming at creating more profits and loots for the dominant class: the financiers. All the destruction happening in the Middle East is for basically looting oil and wealth of other defenseless people. Simply, patriotism in USA is about defending the wealthy class and not for the common good. The financiers that have received most of the benefits from Presidents Bush the first to Obama are not helping the country to prosper but are helping themselves to be richer. The US dictatorship of the financiers is even restricting our democracy, voting rights, and our privacy. It is really dangerous to argue that patriotism is to defend our democracy, because USA is not creating democracy in foreign countries but failed states. This is the reason why terrorism has been on the rise in the world. Exporting American democracy for other countries has been a fiasco such as Abu Ghraib Democracy in Iraq, and US government has been defending the worst regimes in the world that have no connection with democracy at all. Patriotism comes from our government is helping the government itself to set its class agenda rather than helping all the American people. That is why a large segment of Americans are suffering economically. Government policies from Presidents Bush the first to the current president have been oriented toward serving the rich. And the Federal Reserve System is helping the financiers as well to make super-profits. Both of these institutions (Government and the Fed) are helping fictitious capital to bubble for more profits for finance through austerity and cheap money, and eventually the American people will suffer the consequences for the debts and crises. The government and patriotism have always been the major forces for divisiveness in the country and outside the country: Divide and Conquer. US imperialism and Patriotism under Presidents Bush the second and Obama have divided, for example, Iraq into many sects in order for these sects to kill each other in order for US corporations to loot more oil. They are even dividing the country and marginalize Muslims by running extra-super propaganda based on media and government lies.

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