Politicians have no business directing or defining patriotism — especially when their rhetoric sounds like 1950s-era Soviet sloganeering.
It was creepy when Barack Obama declared his first inauguration day a “National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation” and “called” on us to find “common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.” And it’s creepy when Donald Trump declares his inauguration day a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion;” one in which “a new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart.”
You can find both, unfortunately, in the Federal Register.
This kind of self-aggrandizement is what you see under cults of personality, not American republicanism. Far be it from me to lecture anyone on how to love his country, but if your devotion to America is contingent on the party in office, you’re probably not doing it like the Founders envisioned. It’s bad enough that these inaugurations are treated as coronations. It can’t be patriotic to treat politicians like quasi-religious figures. Moreover, it ties patriotism — either implicitly, or in some cases rather explicitly — to a preferred set of policy initiatives or a political office.