WashCo Dems op-ed articleWashCo Dems Op-Ed:

Revoking The Trump Supporter’s Patriot Card

By Clayton Callahan, WashCo Dems Communication Committee Member

What is a patriot? Go ahead and look the word up if you must, but in America, we all seem to know what it means. It’s a person whose love of country surpasses their love of self. A patriot’s heart beats with the ideals that made America free at home and powerful abroad, and their sleeves are always rolled up and ready to do the work needed to keep those ideals alive, even in our cynical age.

Of course it’s true that patriots are expected to have other enthusiasms: family, religion, sports teams, etc. However, none of these other enthusiasms are expected to be at odds with their desire for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, impartial justice, or any other American ideal. Rather, the patriot celebrates our country’s ideals exactly because it’s those very ideals that allow them to freely pursue their enthusiasms.

But don’t take my word for it, take Thomas Jefferson’s:

“WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT: 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.”

Right on, and hell yeah, Tom!

Clutching the ideals of our nation closely to heart, American patriots need not fear that the love of a sports team would ever contradict love of country, and to put one above the other would be treason. Treason is naturally anathema to any patriot’s condition. As the definition suggests, no patriot would be capable of placing the needs of self or some vapid enthusiasm ahead of the needs of the beloved country. The mere thought of treason would likely induce nausea at best and justifiable wrath at worst in one who claims to be an American patriot, right?

And for my entire life, the American conservative has worn the shiny armor of patriotism while strutting about the political landscape. In fact, they have claimed exclusive rights to the term “patriot” for the past 50 years or more.

Liberals, on the other hand, have been portrayed as that backstabbing fifth-column out to undermine American freedoms at home and our power abroad.

How can I make such a claim? Well, you see, I was born at the height of the Vietnam War. And in 1967, patriots were often said to be those clean-cut American youth who stood by their country and went to war. Meanwhile, those pot-smoking, lazy, and cowardly left wingers were to be seen rioting on TV with the apparent goal of burning the nation down one college campus at a time.

Don’t believe me? Listen to a popular country song of the day called “I’m Proud To Be An Okie From Muskogee.”
With that narrative in play, how could liberals be seen as anything but unpatriotic SOBs who caused us to lose the war? And that narrative stuck. Ever since those days, it’s been the meat and potatoes for every Republican meal served in the Patriots’ Clubhouse while the Democrats ate fish and vegetables in America’s doghouse. And you know what, I get it.

Explaining the complexities of the Vietnam War a generation later to those who just want a straight story with heroes and villains can be tricky. It’s a far easier job to sell a simple tale to a large crowd, pointing out the obvious patriotism of the troops who served in the war over the protestors who went to Canada.

But Vietnam is now long over, and today, America faces new challenges that are as great a risk to our generation as the war in Southeast Asia was to that of our parents. And, I’m afraid I have some bad news for the American right; those days when they could claim to be firmly and exclusively on the side of all things patriotic are way past over.

And yes, I am talking to Trump supporters specifically!

Back in 2016, I could have given most Trump supporters a pass on this whole patriotism thing. After all, the media did a great job of making Hillary look bad for the country, and I understand that most folks don’t follow politics as closely as I do. In such a state of imposed ignorance, Trump did look patriotic to the casual eye. Thus, I don’t fault the typical conservative voter for treason that year, as much as for ignorance.

For instance, I’ve discovered more than one Trump voter who was unaware that their boy tried to chase veterans operating pushcart businesses off of New York’s 5th Avenue back in 1991. Many of his voters also didn’t know about his five draft deferments or his comments about John McCain “not being a war hero” until well after the election. Heck, it was even possible back then to deny that Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Vladimir Putin to steal the presidency.

However, as Trump throws tantrums while John McCain’s body lies in state, and as more and more of Trump’s closest cronies are falling before Mueller’s indictments, that ignorance is straining all disbelief.

When every daily front page exposes Trump’s complicity with a foreign dictator in weakening American power abroad, his phony declaration of a national emergency to undermine our elected leaders, and his crooked efforts to snatch away American freedoms at home, one can no longer use “I didn’t know” as a plausible excuse.

As it becomes more and more evident that Donald Trump gives not a tinker’s damn about America’s ideals, his remaining supporters are making it more and more clear that they don’t care either. They don’t care that he’s undermining our justice system, threatening our freedom of religion or the press, or that he’s weakening our strongest alliances overseas in favor of Russia’s agenda—they only care that he’s the one who brought their sports team to victory in 2016.

Because that’s all that matters to a Trump supporter, not our country, just their little faction of it. “Our side won and Hillary’s side lost! Woot! Woot!” they cry. Service be damned, veterans be damned, country be damned, and individual liberties be damned. So what if the US is under Russia’s thumb? Who cares if the free press is under siege? And who cares if the only rule in our nation’s capital anymore is “money talks?” Trump won, and he continues to tell his supporters all the lies they want to hear…no matter how paper thin those lies are growing as time goes by.

The right wing Trump supporters of today simply don’t care about any of those ideals because they are NOT patriots.

In this new era of my life, I find it ironic that the patriots who are now rolling up their sleeves and getting to work for our American values are all those folks that the right wingers looked down on fifty years ago.

Protestors, academics, comedians, liberal politicians, and journalists are fighting like hell for our American ideals at home and abroad while conservatives seem content to stick their fingers in their ears and pretend they didn’t hear the latest news about Russia.

If history proves any indicator of the tomorrow we face, it may be another fifty years or more before the American conservatives can re-enter the Clubhouse of Patriots. Because as for now, Trump supporters are not even worthy of the doghouse. Such willing support for such obvious treason in action must have consequences. And seeing as how it was such consequences that put the liberals in the doghouse a generation ago, I see no reason to give the conservatives a Mulligan now.

Therefore, as of now, by the authority of reason, all the patriot cards held by Trump supporters and their conservative enablers are hereby revoked!