Election Integrity, Healthcare Choice, Patriots, and Other Loaded Terms

Jul 4, 2021 | PDA News

Photo by Maryam Ar-Raheem

In Solidarity, Debra Schrishuhn for the PDA National Team

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I hate it when the right wing misappropriates words and phrases, like election integrity (while passing voter suppression laws), healthcare choice (while selling out to Big Pharma and Big Insurance), and most particularly, patriot (as if only gun-toting so-called conservatives in Revolutionary War and military cosplay can love our country).

Merriam-Webster defines “patriot” as “one who loves and supports his or her country.” Other definitions shade into connotations of jingoism and nationalism, but I adhere to the simple definition. This is my country—I am a patriot, and we at PDA are patriots—because we love our country and spend most of our waking hours trying to make it a better place for everyone.

When nationalists and white supremacists stake exclusionary claims on patriotism, I take heart in signs dotting the landscape and held up by children in Central Illinois where I live (see cover image).

In 1852, the great orator Frederick Douglass took the July 4th holiday to task in his fierce critique of American hypocrisy over slavery, but concluded with a sense of optimism:

I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from “the Declaration of Independence,” the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age…. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind.

And singer/songwriter/activist Buffy Sainte-Marie put it this way in the title song to Soldier Blue (1970):

Her spirit walks the high country
She’s giving free wild samples
And setting an example how to give
Yes, this is my country
Retching and turning, she’s like a baby learning how to live…

Can’t you see that there’s another way to love her?

America, these United States: we are a country of immigrants—both willing and forced—and indigenous peoples, a land of opportunity and responsibility, a grand experiment in human freedom and governance. We embarked on this journey 245 years ago, and we are still trying to perfect our ideals and learning how to live with one another.

PDA is on the front lines working for progressive change and pursuing America’s ideals. We don’t stop, we don’t slow down, and we never give up—not on you, not on our mission, not on America’s promise. We are patriots. Support our work with a monthly donation today.