Why the Left hates symbols of patriotism
President Trump is throwing an Independence Day celebration today to honor the United States. Predictably, the Left lost its mind in response to the event and decried the celebration as emblematic of a totalitarian regime rather than American democracy.
Appearing on Morning Joe, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson described the event as a "combination of [a] Trump rally and Kim Jong-un–style military parade." He bemoaned the fact that Trump's "obscene" celebration would "spoil the whole day."
The event, according to USA Today, will feature a military parade, flyovers, fireworks, and remarks from Pres. Trump himself. USA Today points to a similar event held by Pres. Nixon in 1970: the Honor America Day.
Patriotism, according to the Left, apparently means celebrating national identity only when it advances ideals and principles with which one agrees. Consider, for example, the recent U.S. women's soccer team's advance through the World Cup. For most Americans, the mere fact the team is representing the United States is reason enough to cheer for the team. For the Left, however, celebration of the national team aligns with the advancement of certain policies and progressive values.
Most notable is the vocal and vulgar criticism of President Trump from the team star, Megan Rapinoe. Similarly, presidential hopeful and New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand used the team's recent victory to advocate for gender equality and equal pay.
A recent poll that measured American's patriotism in relation to political identity is extremely revealing. Right-wingers' sense of patriotism is virtually unchanged based on the occupant of the Oval Office. Left-wingers, by contrast, flipped dramatically when Pres. Obama left office.
Self-identified Republicans' sense of patriotism has never fallen under 68 percent, according to Gallup polling, which has been tracking patriotism since 2001. This includes all eight years of the Obama presidency.
By contrast, Democrats' "extreme pride" recorded its lowest in 19 years, down to 22%. This number is half the number recorded just prior to Pres. Trump's election, when Democrat President Barack Obama held the Oval Office.
My suspicion is that such statistics and recent events evidence a telling difference between our nation's two political ideologies: Republicans tend to see national identity as separate from politics, whereas Democrats conflate national identity with elected officials.
Perhaps this is tied further to the political philosophies of the respective parties: Republicans generally view a less active role for government (i.e., elected officials), whereas Democrats' ideal functioning of government is when an active national leader is in office.
Such differing philosophies may also elucidate differences in respective parties' reactions to the 2008 and 2016 elections. There was also a healthy opposition to Pres. Obama, even right after his election, but he entered office with an overall 67% approval rating.
Indeed, even 41% of Republicans supported President Obama when he took the oath of office in January 2009. Still after eight years of intense partisanship, during which his own party suffered dramatic defeats nationwide, Obama left office with 59% approval.
By contrast, President Trump's election was met with intense (and sometimes violent) protests and even an ill fated attempt to pressure electors to vote against their states' popular vote. President Trump entered office with 45% approval, and this number has never cracked 50%.
I'm old enough to remember the September 11 attacks and the national unity that resulted in the months (and even years) thereafter. President Bush recorded a 90% approval in late September 2001, which included 84% Democratic approval.
By extension, I'm also old enough to remember the bitter partisanship that unfolded during President Bush's second term, which saw his overall approval drop to 25%. Same elected official, generally the same electorate, but extreme fluctuation.
Now former president Bush again enjoys a relatively high public approval, with more than six in ten Americans saying they have a favorable view of the former president. It's difficult to imagine such a dramatic shift — in either direction — of President Trump's favorability.
Indeed, the tribalization of politics has made such vacillation unlikely. But I conject that political ideology still plays a significant role in cross-partisan support and overall patriotism amongst the American electorate.
When a Democrat takes office again (in 2021 or 2025), this theory will be tested. If — God forbid — a domestic crisis like September 11 were to happen on a Democrat's watch, would the right rally around a President Kamala Harris or Joe Biden?
I suspect that this is more likely than the Left rallying around current President Trump. I point to the aforementioned statistics and extreme tribalism of today's political climate to support my argument.
Regardless, let us celebrate Independence Day with patriotism, nationalism, and a well warranted appreciation to live in the United States. Regardless of who is president, it's a damn good place to live.
Graphic credit: Pxhere.