United America, Core Value 10: Critical patriotism

February 7, 2014

By: Wayne Baker

Originally posted on Our Values

Two members of the Russian punk-rock protest group Pussy Riot appeared at an Amnesty International concert in New York this week, doing something that got them prison time in Russia: criticizing the Russian government, President Vladimir Putin in particular. Putin freed the punk-rockers in December as part of a general amnesty, which many said was just an attempt to polish his image before the Sochi Olympics.

Whatever you think of Pussy Riot, their story illustrates what happens in many places around the world: Criticize the government, go to jail—or worse. In America, however, “critical patriotism” is a widely practiced core value. Openly criticizing elected officials or opposing government polices won’t land you in jail.

Are you a critical patriot?

“Critical patriotism” is one of the 10 core values widely shared by Americans. It is defined as “tough love of country,” where “criticism of America stems from love of country and desire for improvement.”

The other core values, which we’ve discussed this week and last, are: respect for people of different faiths, races, and ethnicities; symbolic patriotism; freedom; security; self-reliance & individualism; equal opportunity; getting ahead; pursuit of happiness; and justice & fairness. (Click here to download a free chart of the 10 values.)

Most Americans enjoy the opportunity and freedom to criticize elected officials, U.S. policies, the government, and other institutions. But we often disagree on specific issues. For example, Americans are divided on Obamacare—everything from its very existence, to all the problems with its roll-out, to how much it will cost, to how much it will really help Americans.

But, at the end of our tour of America’s 10 core values, I come back to Thomas Jefferson’s observation: “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”

The 10 core values are the guiding principles that a large majority of Americans hold dear. These 10 are America’s common ground. We can make more progress by starting with what unites us than by starting with what divides us.

When have you exercised the core value of critical patriotism?

How do you feel when others criticize the nation?

After our tour of the ten values, what’s your conclusion?