I am the State. – Often attributed to, but almost certainly not said by, Louis XIV.
Nonetheless, it kind of illustrates the prevailing attitude towards politics for most of human history. We have forgotten that the Founders of our country came up with something incredibly radical: the concept of loyal opposition. Until they came along, one was not loyal to one’s country – one was loyal to one’s king. At the time the Framers created the constitution, even imagining the king’s death was considered an offence punishable by being publicly drawn and quartered (for men), or burned at the stake (for women).
But then came the concept of loyal opposition. Nationalism. Prior to the American and French revolutions, there was no such thing. If you google quotes about nationalism, you get a lot of negative stuff, but it doesn’t have to be. At its basic form, nationalism simply means loyalty and devotion to a nation.
We’ve refined that, quite a bit. Now we have patriotism: devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country.
Devotion to a nation. Love of a country. Not devotion to a king or ruler or, dare I say, president.
Isn’t that amazing? Our Founders created a world wherein it is possible – even encouraged – to love your country without liking the rulers. Our very government is based around the ability to change our decision-makers at will. We are allowed to say we don’t like them, and want to replace them with someone new. We are constitutionally required to periodically replace our own government.
It means that I can be loyal to my country, even if I don’t like the people in charge. Because we do not owe loyalty to a president. We owe loyalty to the Office of the President, and to the United States of America. There have been times when I have not necessarily liked the president, or decisions that person has made. But I will always respect the Office. Regardless of who gets elected today, that is what patriotism and nationalism are. I don’t have to like the president. I am allowed to not like the president. But I will defend the Office.
I believe that one’s love of country cannot be determined by the person they vote for. Can it be an indicator of other things about them? Maybe. But I don’t believe you can ever truly say that a person who takes the time to do their research and vote for the person they think is best has no love of country.
L’État, c’est moi, et c’est également vous.