Tyrrell: Dissent is patriotic

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Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Eileen Tyrrell

On March 31, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted “Democrats hate our president more than they love our country.” 

Although McDaniel has since blamed the tweet on a “rogue staffer,” she did make the same comment after this year’s State of the Union address. Partisan squabbling and sweeping generalizations aside, McDaniel’s comment is disturbing because it’s part of a larger misguided trend in thought about what it actually means to love your country. 

What McDaniel and other Republicans neglect to consider is that perhaps the Democrats hate Trump so much because they love our country. Not only do Trump’s policies make up every Democrat’s worst nightmare, but his divisive rhetoric and moral ineptitude have sunk American morale to a pretty low point. According to Pew Global, positive views of America and confidence in American leadership sunk by 42 percent between the end of Obama’s presidency and the beginning of Trump’s presidency.

The more love and passion you have for this country, the harder that is to take. It’s painful to watch America’s reputation deteriorate, and nearly impossible to watch our leader steer this country into decline without saying or doing anything about it.

This is true regardless of what you believe constitutes decline. I wouldn’t expect conservatives to remain silent if Bernie Sanders was in office implementing liberal policies they disagreed with, and they shouldn’t expect Democrats to remain silent with Trump in office either.

The 1961 publication “The Use of Force in International Affairs” asks the question, “If what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, is dissent the highest form of patriotism?”

Of course, what you’re dissenting against is also important. But when it comes to arguments on policy and traditional political issues, speaking out about what you believe in because you want to better your country is a pretty high form of patriotism, especially when it can lead to vitriol and hate.

So let’s do away with this narrative that criticism of the president can be correlated to hatred for this country. If you care about America, you have an obligation to speak out when you see it heading in the wrong direction. What we should be arguing about is what the right direction is, not the fact that people disagree on it.