Patriotism Polluted

What does it mean to be a patriot?

We’re finding that it means different things to different people and that patriotism today is shaped by where you get your information.

Many Americans view the insurrectionists who stormed the US capitol as patriots, mainly because of what they were told by a lying president and by conspiracy-based news sources, neither of which benefit from a truthful accounting of the 2020 presidential election.

The former President’s attorney general, William Barr, stated that he knew the President’s claim that the election was rigged was “total bullshit.” More than sixty cases were brought to courts across the nation by the President’s legal team — all of them, including the case heard by the US Supreme Court, were rejected as baseless bullshit.

But the court’s decision, and all the states that ratified the results of the 2020 election, don’t matter to Americans who continue to get their information from the former President, or conspiracy “news” agencies and websites, mainly because both are telling Trump supporters what they desperately want to hear.

Millions of Americans simply don’t want to hear the truth because they are too uncomfortable with what that truth reveals. They’d rather live in the comfort of the lie than the discomfort of facts. I don’t think this is a liberal or conservative phenomenon – it’s a human one that is further complicated by the sheer quantity of misinformation available to people.

Under normal conditions, people eventually resign themselves to the truth, even when the truth is painful – they can be honest with themselves because the truth is plainly evident and indisputable. It’s what Hillary Clinton supporters and the supporters of every other losing presidential candidate go through. Disappointment, denial, acceptance.

But we’re not living under normal conditions. This time around, we face a cult-like leader who cannot accept the truth of his defeat because of his narcissism. Trump is bolstered by a cottage industry of conspiracy-based websites that profit from lies and misinformation. And a congress of cowards who fear being “primaried” out of a job does nothing to help their country.

Now that the former President is in legal jeopardy, we should expect him to react as any criminal backed into a corner does, with desperation, fear, and violence.

If American democracy is to survive, she’ll need to rely on true Patriots in the coming months.