Berkeley professor and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich penned an op-ed blasting Republicans for "substitut[ing] partisanship for patriotism, placing party loyalty above loyalty to America." He essentially argues Republicans are unpatriotic for seeking to dismantle government.
True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of it. Generations of Americans have risked their lives to preserve it. 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 the U.S. government, not destroy it.
But regressive Republicans loathe the government – and are doing everything they can to paralyze it, starve it, and make the public so cynical about it that it’s no longer capable of doing much of anything. Tea Partiers are out to gut it entirely. Norquist says he wants to shrink it down to a size it can be “drowned in a bathtub.”
When arguing against paying their fair share of taxes, wealthy regressives claim “it’s my money.” But it’s their nation, too. And unless they pay their share America can’t meet the basic needs of our people. True patriotism means paying for America.
I'll start by acknowleging that I am very sympathetic to many of Reich's sentiments. Modern Republicans are, in fact, unprecedentedly antagonistic, uncompromising and regressive. They have relentlessly and unconditionally derailed the president's agenda, even on legislation they had previously supported. Republicans have become substantially more right wing over the last few decades, even as Democrats have remained more or less ideologically constant. This isn't just my opinion; it's literally scientific fact.
But Reich is wrong for equating liberalism with patriotism. He argues true patriotism is about "coming together for the common good," which is liberals' core justification for government involvement in the economy. While I agree that the interests of society are best met when we sometimes act collectively through government, I don't believe those who disagree with me necessarily lack "love for or devotion to one's country," as Merriam-Webster defines patriotism. People differ on their interpretations of patriotism; some believe patriots must be unconditionally loyal to country, some express their patriotism through symbols and rituals, others believe true patriotism is achieved through constructive criticism and dissent of government. But no matter how one defines the concept, it is wrong to brand an entire ideology unpatriotic so long as it purports to protect and defend the best interests of the American people.