Because I’m actually patriotic.

Like, in a real way.

Unlike fake “patriots,” I don’t pretend America is perfect and that one should never be allowed to criticize it. I understand that there is a dark side to American history. But I love and appreciate all that is most exciting and creative and dynamic about America–the diversity of cultures and religious traditions and political ideas and cuisines which make their home here. I love jazz and hip-hop and salsa, and how those sounds weave their way in and out of the fabric of the nation. Pizza, burritos, falafels, pierogi–yes, please! I’m a big fan of our new Vice-President, the child of Jamaican and South Asian immigrants–and a big fan of my new Muslim county commissioner, Nafisa Fai, who’s got Somali refugee roots. Pre-pandemic, one of my favorite things in the world was a noisy Portland street full of guitar-playing buskers, anarchist protesters and crazy end-times cult members trying to convert me. America wouldn’t be America without them.

But the people who call themselves “patriots”–people like Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity–truth is, they don’t really like America. Not most of it, anyway. They hate cities. They don’t like immigrants, with a few (white-skinned) exceptions. They disdain large parts of American culture–all the music and movies and TV shows created by those coastal “libtards.” Lately, even sports has been in their crosshairs, seeing as so much of it is played by African-American athletes who will not remain conveniently silent about the racism they experience on a regular basis.

They love America only in the most narrow and most unimaginative way–as defined by one race, one religion, one culture, and controlled by one gender. And this from the people who love to talk about freedom….

The white man who drives a big truck, goes to church and listens to country is part of America, too. But the “patriot” movement wants him to become the definition of America. One shade of color instead of the entire rainbow.

But here is the true punchline of this joke…

The wealthy who lead and inspire this movement don’t even respect this middle American white male they mythologize. As far as they are concerned, he can remain poor, employed for a low wage, unable to obtain health care or a secure retirement. They don’t care if he’s able to keep the heat on when extreme weather comes through. They only care about him as long as he can be manipulated into voting for laws that allow them to retain as much of their wealth as possible.

So are they really patriotic? Do they like their fellow Americans?

I’ve got my doubts. And I will not be joining the Patriot Party anytime soon.

I don’t want Donald Trump’s money.

I know I’m supposed to want Donald Trump’s money. We’re all supposed to want Trump’s money. He’s the embodiment of the American dream we’re all supposed to aspire to. The fact that he’s got billions and billions of dollars–as he frequently likes to remind us–automatically makes him a human being of value. A human being worthy of our respect and emulation, and possibly our vote. He had the skill and the talent to make all that money. Or at least he had the cunning, and that’s good enough for us. If we don’t respect him, we’re likely to be sour grapes sore losers who envy his wealth.

But I don’t envy Trump’s wealth, especially if it comes with Trump’s fame and publicity. That seems like a heavy burden to carry. Perhaps I’m a weak person, I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with that, and if it meant getting Trump’s personality issues as well…oof.

That doesn’t mean I’m not guilty of jealousy…isn’t everyone? I’m jealous as hell of Jimmy Carter.

I envy Jimmy’s serenity, his calm faith. What is his secret? What causes him to accept a cancer diagnosis with a smile and a remark about how this is going to be a “new adventure”? I mean, hypothetically speaking I can think of death and the afterlife as a new adventure too, but if I were faced with a terminal illness diagnosis in reality, I’m not so sure I could keep my cool like this. I envy how he’s been able to focus his existence on a higher purpose, on what is really meaningful–without allowing himself to be distracted by a gazillion doubts, the way I usually do.

So don’t give me any of Trump’s billions. Can I steal just a little bit of Jimmy Carter’s peace of mind? Can I have just a smidge of his kindness and patience? He is so rich in them already, he won’t miss it, right?

Yeah, I’ll admit it–I’m a sore loser, green-eyed jealousy monster. Call it spiritual sour grapes.

Holy Ronald the Great, patron saint of laissez faire capitalism, help us preserve our conservative faith.  Help us remember what we believe in.

Save us from unrestrained government spending and the temptation to raise taxes.  Sure, you ran deficits and raised taxes, but you did it to defend us from the anti-American enemy.  And anything done to defend us from the anti-American enemy is sacred in our eyes, amen.

May your spirit inspire us to appear patriotic.  For we know that we will fall short of the glory of real patriotism in our deeds, but the virtue of appearing patriotic will redeem us.  Yea, our Democratic opponents will be accused of weakness when they walk the road of diplomacy, but we will be able to trade arms for hostages and still call ourselves true patriots for all eternity.

Rescue us from division and splintering, from multiple factions and an abundance of primary candidates.  Grant us unity, and do not permit us to have any doubts about our platform, nor to listen to deceitful suggestions that we should change it.  With your aid, we will live our lives in your image–with a cheerful indifference to the facts, joking about the things which we do not understand, knowing we will be right no matter what.

Above all else, we are gathered here in your name to worship and praise that most holy of holies, the Almighty Dollar.  May it ever increase and multiply.  Even as we are broke and struggling and crushed by the heel of great corporations, we remain steadfast in our belief that one day, you will bestow upon us the blessings of wealth, just as you have upon your other servants who tell us to vote Republican.  So we say, let the wealthy remain wealthy, today and tomorrow, now and forever, wealth without end.  Amen.