Just as the religious fundamentalists claim a lock on the truth of Christianity, the Republicans claim a lock on the truth of “patriotism”. I would argue that modern history shows both conjectures to be false, but particularly the later.
The thing is, when I was a kid while the Republicans were the “squares” fighting equality, growing social programs, and being eminently pro-war, they stood strongly on the foundation of our nation being great because we collectively banded together to end the great depression and win against the Nazis. They didn’t want to go back to the Gilded Age, they wanted to go back to the 50’s.
Patriotism and the greatness of our nation wasn’t defined on individualism” or that only certain “entrepreneurs”, “leaders”, or “job creators” made us great (though certainly we had our heroes), but rather the American society together as a whole made us great. That working together “in commons” we could solve the issues that plagued mankind immemorial. We would, as a nation, end poverty, end war, make energy abundant for all, cure the sick, end the drudgery of manual labor, and create a utopia where all would benefit.
That is not to say some would not benefit some more than others – what supposedly made “capitalism” better than “communism” was a degree of competition, but there were boundaries and the majority of the gains were to be in common. We weren’t communist, quite the opposite, but in a truly American way, we coopted what the best from other’s cultures and ideas to make ourselves better. We were willing to have high taxes, help the needy, place limitations for the betterment of all, and let the government work in our name. In doing so, beyond even the depression and WWII, it got us to the moon and held us against the ever expanding Communist threat.
Read the science fiction of the time and the repeated idealized world is one where robots work and there is a shared prosperity leaving all of us free to ponder greater questions, while our robot friends serve us Mint Juleps. The optimism of that “science fiction” has been turned on head today. If one is to look at the Republican platform, we would still have the robots, but those replaced would not share in the prosperity and the government. having not “earned” a cent for the “entrepreneurial class”, would get nothing. The “lazy” displaced, meanwhile, would be unemployed and scrapping for whatever food, shelter, and menial work they could find.
Why? Because they are not the “creators” (or sons/daughters of creators) and therefor have no right to “share” the collective gains. No matter how hard the “parasite class” might work, they do not work hard enough. Not being “leaders” they are not “deserving”.
I would argue this mentality turns the “patriotism” we were brought up with on its very head. We are no longer “one nation united”, but a nation of individuals, with only the individuals who have the wherewithal to reach the top being worthy. Ideas are all that matter, and no matter how many others it takes to make those ideas become reality, directly or indirectly, only those with the ideas deserve the returns. There is no “nationalism”, the core of patriotism, but only individualism. The rest should just come up with their own ideas, even if they are incapable. Even, ironically, if everyone only came up with ideas, there would be no one left to implement them.
Unlike for our parents, America isn’t great because of “Americans” – a cooperative community that stood together and stood for something, but rather just empty jingoism. America is great now simply because it is America. Like grace through faith alone, ultimately empty without deeds. A broken covenant.
And so, in that regards, I would strongly argue the Republicans no longer have a lock on “patriotism”. In fact, their platform is an anathema to the patriotism our fathers believed in, the patriotism that included working together, that included sharing the gains, that even included sharing the hardships.
The Republican agenda is a radical agenda of change from who we were, not a “conservative” agenda, not an agenda that “conserves” the great nation our fathers left us after WWII. Instead it turns it into something else, something uglier, something that isn’t the “America” our parents fought and died for.
In short, they can wave their flags and show their “Don’t tread on my stickers,” (made in China no less) – but they are not the patriots anymore, they are the “anti-Americans”.