Robert Reich: True patriots don't hate the government

The former secretary of labor reflects on what it means to preserve and protect our democracy in 2015


Robert Reich
July 8, 2015 1:15PM (UTC)
This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

A few words about patriotism – something we talk a lot about, especially around July 4th, but seldom stop to examine its real meaning.

True patriotism isn’t simply about waving the American flag. And it’s not mostly about securing our borders from outsiders.

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It’s about coming together for the common good.

Real patriotism is not cheap. It requires taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – being willing to pay taxes in full rather than seeking tax loopholes and squirreling away money abroad.

Patriotism is about preserving and protecting our democracy, not inundating it with big money and buying off politicians.

True patriots don’t hate the government of the United States. They’re proud of 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 our government, not destroy it.

Finally, patriots don’t pander to divisiveness. They don’t fuel racist or religious or ethnic divisions. They aren’t homophobic or sexist.

To the contrary, true patriots seek to confirm and strengthen the “we” in “we the people of the United States.”

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Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 15 books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's also co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism."

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