A New American Patriotism and The American Flag

Synopsis:

  • America’s reign as the longest surviving multicultural democracy is threatened by the Trumplicans.
  • If we hope to continue our 2.5-century experiment in democracy, America’s political center-right, center, progressives, and left must coalesce around an optimistic and unifying vision for America.
  • A reaffirmation of the aspirational ideals of the US Constitution,  the slogan “A New American Patriotism” and adopting the American flag as our symbol would help to stem our slide toward authoritarianism.

Successful Presidential candidates create a story that describes their aspiration and plan for America. In the process, they coin political slogans and symbols which become the sound-bites that convey a complicated political message. 

For example:

  • Reagan: “Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago” 
  • Clinton: “It’s the economy, stupid”
  • Bush: “Compassionate conservatism”
  • Obama: “Yes We Can”
  • Trump: “Make America Great Again” and his red MAGA hats

Given the political exigencies threatening our democracy, it is past time for the political left, center, and center-right to unite behind an optimistic and universally acceptable vision that will provide Americans with a reason to enthusiastically support the Democrats.

I believe the Democrats should unite behind a celebration and reaffirmation of the aspirational ideals of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States as the foundation for building a more equitable America that guarantees freedom of religion, the right to privacy and liberty, freedom of the press, and reasserts America’s historic and legal reliance on using science and rationality to improve the health and welfare of all Americans.

An appropriate slogan for this vision is “A New American Patriotism” and the best symbol to represent this vision and slogan would be the American flag; together these will contrast nicely when juxtaposed to Trump’s seditious behavior and his regressive plans for America.

Some of my colleagues on the political left will argue that America is not an equitable society and a more specific plan is needed. While I recognize that we have yet to create an egalitarian, democratic society, the political left must acknowledge that America is the first and longest-existing democratic, multicultural society in the history of the world. The singularity of our accomplishment is remarkable because America has overcome (to an extent) Homo sapiens’ instinct to unfairly advantage this in their in-group while denigrating those in the out-group.

While we have yet to create the perfect Union, we are further along on this journey today than we were prior to:

  • 1865 when slavery was ruled to be unconstitutional
  • 1870 when black men obtained the right to vote
  • 1920 when women obtained the right to vote 
  • 1954 when segregation in schooling was ruled to be unconstitutional
  • 1964 when discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, segregation in schools and public accommodations, and employment discrimination were ruled to be unconstitutional
  • 2015 when prohibitions against same-sex marriage were ruled to be unconstitutional

Those advances have occurred precisely because we are guided by the Constitution of the United States; and will assuredly be curtailed or reversed should Trump be reinstalled in the White House. Thus, I implore the political left to enthusiastically join our campaign, we cannot defeat authoritarianism without your energy and expertise.

A subset of Americans may be reticent to support the slogan “A New American Patriotism” and the American flag as our symbol because they associate “patriotism” with the xenophobic, homophobic, anti-semitic and racists horrors of the Nazis and US nationalists. While I too have have these concerns, I believe it is past time that we reclaim our impressive American story from the authoritarian, extreme right by proudly declaring we, the supporters of the US Constitution are the true patriots.

With a patriotic and optimistic political vision, “A New American Patriotism” and the American flag, the united Democratic Party can begin a campaign in which they advocate that all Americans publicly assert their support for our vision for America’s democracy by flying the American flag on their home.

When our neighbors ask “why the recent addition of the American flag,” we can explain our vision for America, an America which works for all Americans and is based on the farsighted principles penned by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence:

that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

and in The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States…

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

Americans should be proud that our 2.5 century-old Constitution has guided the evolution of a society whose arc of history truly “bends toward justice.” We must not let this singular, historic, and magnificent experiment in democracy slip away. We must take back patriotism and the American flag from the authoritarian Trumplicans before it is too late.

America’s democracy urgently needs our help. 

President Kennedy said, “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

America’s political left, center, and center-right can help to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” by patriotically, proudly, and publicly flying America’s flag.

Hayward Zwerling

The evolution of the American flag.

Reference: Yascha Mounk, The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure. 2022

Originally posted Memorial Day, 29 May 2022, Revised on Flag Day, June 14, 2022.