Patriotism is not Partisan
Rising above the pettiness of American politics
Resentment runs deep.
Almost two years in, some folks still haven’t processed the last presidential election. The problem is anyone but the obvious culprit. It’s Clinton, or Sanders, or whoever else threw their hat into the ring two years ago.
Instead of preventing America from sinking deeper into illiberalism, those malcontents are on a vicious scapegoating rampage. Everyone is fair game, a convenient target for the ire of those who feel politically adrift, misrepresented. Worse, it’s never about the common good, it’s always personal.
Such is the inability to consider others that threats of casting a Republican vote — or no vote at all — have started to crop up on social media.
This is not America, the country on the brink of democratic collapse.
This is a nationwide, America-sized schoolyard where adults are willing to throw their peers under the bus out of spite.
Because they still haven’t forgiven outlier Bernie Sanders for capturing the public imagination and proposing something radical here yet common to most of the Western world, that is to say socialism.
Because they’re feeling powerless, left behind by a country barreling toward disaster.
Because they’re fed up and desperately want to be heard.
Don’t we all?
But if you have a vote, you have a voice.
Should you decide however that voting is too much of a hassle this time around, then be prepared to live with the fallout. You can’t expect others to do your civic duty for you and then complain about the results when they’re not to your liking. Wash your hands of it all if you must, that’s your right, your choice, and your privilege but please take responsibility for your inaction.
Politics isn’t something that happens to other people, we’re in this together, whether you vote or not.
As for declaring to anyone willing to listen that you’re going to vote Republican to teach the Democrats a lesson, is that supposed to be a declaration of how smart you are? Especially when you gloat about being the first impacted because your identity intersects with one or several minorities or at-risk groups.
If you feel like sacrificing yourself, fair enough, it’s your call.
But why are you so keen to take the rest of us down with you?
Granted, I probably haven’t been in America long enough to grasp the local mindset, the desperate demand for attention and validation, and the willingness to sabotage an election on a whim.
What I see is evidence of rogue individualism and a widespread absence of critical faculties among those puerile internet yellers who mistakenly assume America is their private property.
Trump has emboldened such attitudes, leading by example by carpet-bombing the internet with assorted blatherings, proof that mediocrity is as confident as it is arrogant.
I’ve seen this where I come from, too. The more bigoted the voter, the more righteous and self-satisfied.
In 2017, my birth country and America’s oldest ally, France, had a presidential election, an unprecedented one that culminated in the ascendancy of outlier Emmanuel Macron. A former government minister under socialist president François Hollande, Macron was uncommonly young as well as free from traditional party attachments. In a shrewd move designed to bridge the left-right divide, he even created his own centrist movement from scratch, En Marche, coincidentally bearing his initials.
After then National Front (the party has since rebranded) candidate Marine Le Pen made it through to the second round of voting, we came together, if often grudgingly so. Despite our differences, the vast majority of French people realized we had one common goal: to keep the extreme-right away from power. So we voted for Macron on the condition that a vote wouldn’t represent an automatic endorsement of his politics. The reasoning was that he’d be a lot easier to push back against than Marine Le Pen, that is to say the lesser of two evils.
We had one job, to protect our country, and we did exactly that.
This is how people from across the political spectrum prevented fascism. It’s not that everyone fell under Macron’s charm — far from it — it’s that moral and civic duty left us no choice but to vote him in.
Much like what happened in France last year, America’s political predicament is an emergency. Our institutions are being dismantled piecemeal, and SCOTUS can no longer be relied upon to remain impartial, as per the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh. There’s little doubt this will continue unless Democrats regain control of the house.
After the horrors visited upon America by Trumpism, you do not have to be a registered Democrat to understand there’s an urgent need for action. Otherwise, we stand to become an isolationist nation that pushes the rest of the world away.
And turns on its own citizens when they don’t meet this new ethno-nationalist, Christo-fascist definition of “American.”
And yet, the whole world has been at home in the United States since the country’s foundation.
In this climate, alienation is a natural — and widespread — reaction. For my part, America feels like an organ transplant that didn’t take but I’m a citizen now so Trumpism is my problem too. As an aside, I can’t help but wonder if we’re witnessing the end of the increasingly obsolete two-party system, in which case American democracy could be experiencing growing pains.
Could Trumpism be a growth spurt that forces us to shape up? Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, democracy isn’t an abstract concept: democracy is you, democracy is me, democracy is us, together. We have one chance at limiting the damages of Trumpism so please, let’s seize it. Now is the time to set aside our differences and come together as one, for America’s sake, all the people in it, and the rest of the world.
Because patriotism isn’t partisan.
Patriotism means transcending individual convictions in the name of the common good, not acting like a stroppy brat with a ballot paper.
I’m a French-American freelancer based in the Pacific Northwest. If you like cats, find me on Instagram. To continue the conversation, come ride the elephant with me. For everything else, deets in bio.