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On Nationalism vs Patriotism and The Politics of the Absurd

nationalism vs patriotism
Jason Dias
Written by Jason Dias

You can’t just blame the short-fingered vulgarian, says Jason Dias. His supporters simply don’t know the difference of nationalism vs patriotism …

aNewDomain Politicsjason-dias-anewdomain-nationalism-vs-patriotism — I try to keep politics mostly off my social media pages.

I refuse to name any of the people involved or the parties because the algorithms will feed me more of that crap if I do.

But there is one candidate in particular seems to suck all the oxygen out of every room, to grow and thrive on any kind of attention at all. I won’t even write his name here because, like a mass shooter, his behavior is so reprehensible that I don’t want to risk communicating it by adding to the fame/infamy of the shooter.

Graydon Carter labeled this candidate a short-fingered vulgarian in Spy magazine 25 years ago and that name seems apt enough

nationalism vs patriotismFor convenience, I’ll shorten this candidate’s name just to SFV. Because we have to talk about this.

As for the other candidate, the business-as-usual lady (let’s say BAU for consistency), well, she’s been in trouble for labeling half of SFV’s voters as “a basket of deplorables.”

It’s easy to label. The public behavior of SFVs supporters leaves a lot of room for civility.

But it’s too easy, for the rest of us, just to call the people who disagree with us stupid.

Still, given the facts as they see them, SFV’s supporters are acting rationally. 

Because many of them don’t know the difference between nationalism and patriotism.

They aren’t dumb, it’s just that nobody ever told them. And their choice of news media downplays the differences all day long, every day.

They also don’t know the difference between feminism and sexism, between black power and white supremacy, between freedom of religion and state-sanctioned Christianity.

This is the problem.

With a particular worldview and a particular cultural origin, the raft of changes moving through society like wildfire, well, they seem threatening. The old ways are dying.

And conservatism, it likes the old ways.

True, these are folks by and large left out of the economic recovery.

In many ways, the Einstein-haired socialist and SFV play to the same audiences: the discarded. These are people for whom the economy is not working. Again, they’re a little hazy about why it isn’t working and they’ve been conned into a particular set of explanations… but that’s not stupid. With this worldview in mind, the choice is rational.

You can have more of the same from BAU or you can have disruption from SFV.

If you’re doing all right, the status quo seems the more rational choice. If you’re hurting, though, you’re more willing to take some chances.

SFV might make things worse, yeah. But from where you’re sitting, maybe it doesn’t look so much like things can get worse.nationalism vs patriotism

Nobody believes your values any more; your flag is widely branded as a racist icon; your privilege is being eroded and that makes you feel unequal. And there’s so much media standing by to reinforce those feelings that, notwithstanding the logical errors, it seems any change must be for the better.

Even this change – from rational, self-interested government to utter nihilism in which all values are suddenly baseless, where SFV is a baby Christian rather than the baby Hitler he obvious aspires to be, where the post-modernists are right about facts (the fact is, there are no facts).

In this environment, he can lie all day long and his supporters just don’t care. They aren’t there to hear the truth.

When confronted with facts, these folks attack the fact-checkers.

If it doesn’t agree with their ideology, then it must be biased. Snopes? Nopes. Politifact? Liberals. Fox News and all the various pundits have been playing this one for a long time.

We’re fair and balanced and you should believe that because we say so. If Fox is fair and balanced then the far right is the center, and everything else is socialist hell.

So what should we do about it?nationalism vs patriotism deplorables donald trump

Nothing. I believe in democracy.

So here’s an experiment fo
r you: Fill a jar with gumballs and ask 100 people to guess how many there are. You will get a few answers that are way off. A million. Three. Most of the answers will be a lot closer. Now, you can enter your own guess, but the best way to be closest to the right answer is to find the mean of all the guesses.

Crowdsource the answer from everyone’s brain.

Ask 300 million people to choose a president. Nearly half of them are so disenfranchised that they succumb to apathy. They aren’t wrong: the evidence that voting for Congress, the Senate or President will have much impact on your life if you can’t back it up with a substantial bribe in the 7 figure range is pretty scanty. Not voting is a kind of voting. The remainder, though, will make the best decision they can with the material provided.

short fingered vulgarianSometimes there appears to be no right answer. BAU is clearly more qualified and the opposition has clearly slandered her mightily over the past decades. 

At the same time, her team controlled everything for a few months a few years ago and did next to nothing.

The gains that have occurred in our economy have happened in spite of our political system. The red team got what they wanted – nonintervention – by simply not doing any work for 7 years. Gains have been slow and uneven. Since there was a blue team president, though, the red team can blame him just as the blue team credits him.

In this environment, neither candidate seems a good choice. Chaos and disruption or the status quo for four to eight more years?

The status quo isn’t good for us down here in the bottom percentiles of the economy.

But you can’t lay all the blame on SFV. Just as therapist Carl Whitaker showed you couldn’t divorce a client from his or her family, you can’t do that with SFV and his supporters, either. The whole system needs treatment.

As for me, I won’t be voting for any short-fingered vulgarity.

I have too much empathy for the people who would suffer the most from this.

I will be voting for the first time since George Bush Sr. lost his bid for a second term, because I think the reasons are sufficiently compelling to do so.

But I don’t want to be compelled to vote.

I want a party that represents me, us, the run-of-the-mill voter. Not a choice between marginal existence on the fringes of the capitalist system or atomic war or whatever calamity the SFV induces.

It’s just the tiniest bit possible that SFV could be good for us, though. Maybe the people who really run things will start to see that they can’t risk their own guesses any more and they should go back to polling the people and taking the average.

For aNewDomain Politics, I’m Jason Dias.

Cover image: PertinentProblems, All Rights Reserved  All other images: Jason Dias for aNewDomain, All Rights Reserved.

About the author

Jason Dias

Jason Dias

Jason Dias, PsyD is an existential psychotherapist who breathes words. He's a senior columnist at aNewDomain.