Patriotic Thoughts

I try quite hard (regardless of how it may seem, perhaps) to present as balanced of an outlook on this blog as I can. I try to take into consideration the thoughts and feelings of all potential readers, and so there’s often some topics that I just won’t write about, or which I’ll really tread carefully around, for fear of provoking anyone. And so I was really considering not writing a response to yesterday’s inauguration at all. I realize that there are many who dislike Biden, feel the election was somehow fraudulent, believe this is the continuation of a long slide toward a villainous portrayal of socialism, etc. And I’ve been posting about politics a fair bit the last while. (I wonder why?) Wouldn’t it have been easier to just post a movie review or a fluff piece about breakfast cereals today instead?


But at the same time, I use this blog to chronicle how I feel and what I think about different things that happen in our world, and when I’ve got a lot to say, I have a documented hard time shutting up. And yesterday made me feel a whole lot of things. Things I wanted to get down. This shouldn’t be considered an attack on anyone or a judgement on people. This is just my personal response to what I saw yesterday and how I’ve felt over the past four years.

In a nutshell, yesterday made me feel like I could be patriotic again. Like I was proud to be an American, and that there was some real hope for my country’s future. For the past four years, I feel like Trump has really steered hard into the negative stereotypes of America that I’ve seen overseas. The shoot first, me first, xenophobic, ignorant, money-grubbing depictions that have always disappointed me.

But Americans are so much more than that. The parts of America I really love are the brighter aspects. The idealism. The thought that we can change the world and make it better. The hope that there’s no problem we can’t tackle. The celebration of diversity. The refuge for all. Yes, we’re wealthy and occasionally spoiled. Yes, we often don’t take as great of an interest in national affairs as might behoove us, but when push comes to shove, I’ve always thought America would do what was best for everyone, not just itself.

Yesterday, I saw a huge display of diversity and optimism, even in the middle of a pandemic. I saw a fantastic young poet laureate deliver a moving reading of art. I saw music and art celebrated from all across the country. Yes, you could argue that Trump tried to do the same thing at times, but with Trump, it always felt to me like he was going for an America of the past. A white-washed historical relic he wanted to somehow embalm and stick out there on display. If this were pop culture, Trump was the toy collector in Toy Story 2.

For the past four years, the American flag has often been used (in my opinion) as a blunt object. Flown next to Trump flags from the backs of trucks. It felt like you couldn’t be patriotic unless you supported the president, and that (frankly) is ridiculous. The fact that I felt that way is appalling to me, and it took yesterday for me to fully realize how Trump had pulled that trick off. Sure, you can say I was being too sensitive or too whatever, but I don’t believe you can argue how people feel. If someone tells you they’re sad, you can’t tell them they’re wrong.

So it was such a breath of fresh air to finally not have that feeling hanging over me anymore. To know that Biden will no doubt do things I disagree with, but that I can still feel like we’re on the same team, or at the very least that my disagreeing with his policies won’t make me un-American. And doubtless there will be some on the right who say that kind of thinking is just me being a snowflake and too easily triggered or whatever, but we shouldn’t have to apologize when someone else makes us feel less or crazy or wrong.

Anyway. It was a very good day for me yesterday. I’ll return (hopefully) to movie reviews and whatnot tomorrow. But for today, I wanted to at least get that thought down for the record. Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you tomorrow.


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