It makes me quite happy to see the U.S. Department of Justice nail hundreds of violent fools and other losers for their Trump-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

On Friday, a Trump-nominated federal judge sentenced the 25-year-old guy who used a riot shield to crush a D.C. police officer in a door frame to more than seven years in prison — one of the longest sentences in the Capitol mob cases.

The defendant, Patrick McGaughey, blamed his father, a fervent Trump supporter, for his presence at the Capitol. Neuroscience has demonstrated that the human brain might not reach full maturity until, or even past, McGaughey’s age. (I wrote a column making that point.)

But pardon my bias here: I believe a 25-year-old American male should know right from wrong, despite his father’s bad influence. He should know that it’s just wrong to join a mob, to enter the U.S. Capitol, to use a riot shield and the force of the mob to crush a police officer against a door frame. He should know it’s against the law to use violence to stop an act of Congress — in this case, the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president.

If you’re ignorant on purpose — if you’ve intentionally limited your civic knowledge to what you hear on FOX “News” or what you read (assuming you read at all) on right-wing websites — if you’re still clinging to Donald Trump long after he’s proven to be the worst, most corrupt (and allegedly criminal) president in American history, then I have no pity for you.

We in the news media — and, more specifically, those of us who get to express opinions — frequently get accused of being elitist for looking down upon Trumpies and the like. We’re told we just don’t understand what’s going through the minds of “real Americans” and why the “real patriots” are so angry, out there in “America’s heartland.”

As Colonel Potter used to say: “Horse hockey!”

Americans should never fret about being labeled elitist because they did well in school, earned a college degree and are capable of discerning facts from fiction, good from evil.

Never apologize for feeding your brain with knowledge and for respecting others who accomplish great things through the power of intellect.

You can love America without waving a flag. There are plenty of flag wavers among Trump supporters, but it’s clear they worship a man and not a nation.

You love America by being an informed and vigilant citizen, by discerning objective facts, by respecting the Constitution and the rule of law, and by supporting progress over status quo.

You are a patriot because you support the free press and read or follow credible news sources.

You are a modern patriot because you reject bigotry and embrace the nation’s ethnic and racial diversity.

You are a modern patriot when you love democracy and decry those who think authoritarianism is a better way. Remember what Winston Churchill told the House of Commons after World War II: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

And you are a modern patriot when you desire to be a person of mature thinking and selfless reasoning, when you see beyond your personal desires and needs to the greater good.

I referenced this in my recent column on guns and gun owners — specifically, those who want to keep the country infested with military-style semi automatic rifles even as mass shootings continue. The gun-obsessed claim regulation of deadly weapons presents some atrocious burden on those who want to own high-powered firearms because they’re fun to shoot.

There are many divisions in this perilously polarized country. One of the greatest and most tragic is between those who maintain their adolescent obsession with guns, despite the enormous problems they’ve created, and those of us who want a safer country.

That’s just one example of what I mean. It takes maturity and selfless reasoning to see the greater good, the higher purpose in all things. Unfortunately, we have come to a point where too many of our fellow Americans think selfishly or not at all. That means the rest of us have to compensate. The rest of us have to accept the responsibility to be smart, vigilant stewards of democracy and champions of the common welfare.

10 thoughts on “The new patriotism: Being smarter, better informed than those still in Trumpworld

  1. Well done, Dan. The big issue is that people have lost the ability to think critically. You allude to this in your piece. “Discerning objective facts” you have called it.

    Many seem especially unable to engage in critical thinking. Spreading false rumors and harmful stories is the equivalent of knowingly spreading disease.

    We would do well to remember the words of Francis Bacon, written roughly 425 years ago: “I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth . . . with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dan
      So well written and ain’t that the truth. When someone can’t accept defeat and his supporters go along with his denial, it’s a sad state of affairs. He may have to deal with that again in 2024. Oh my!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of your best columns ever. And there have been many.
    Thank you. By the way, I am a 75 year old flag waver. The flag just happens to be Blue and Yellow.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan, perfectly said! I grew up among Democrats who valued education and patriotism and who were able to separate fact from fiction. Unfortunately, my husband and his family and the younger generation of my maternal cousins are Republicans. Per my personal, probably biased observations, I see an attitude of what’s good for me, me, me and maybe the people like me. (My FIL thought Fox’s The 5 was the best news show on TV!) I have an MA in History but when I went back to school for a bachelor’s in Nursing we had to read and discuss a book called “Critical Thinking” because so many of the younger folks in the class did not have that skill.
    Thank you for your perspectives and observations!

    Liked by 1 person

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