Characterization of Patriotism
While the research on patriotism has elicited some level of confusion, researchers have come to some consensus regarding the definition of the term. Patriotism is often considered as the deep feeling of affection and attachment to one’s nation (Conover and Stanley 1) or the extent of one’s pride in and love for the nation (Kosterman and Seymour 271). Nevertheless, scholars have broadened the definition through categorizing it into various dimensions based on different scales. Symbolic patriotism scale, which was developed by the American National Election Studies, combines pride in and love for America with pride in its anthem and flag (Huddy and Nadia 64).
The major classification includes uncritical or blind patriotism and constructive patriotism. Blind patriotism is defined as the intense alignment with a nation and an uncritical support or acceptance of the consequences, as well as disregard of the effect this could have on the outside groups. It could also be considered as the unwillingness of people to criticize or accept criticism of the nation. From a leadership perspective, blind patriotism is associated with authoritarianism and tendency to support and defer to authority figures unconditionally. On the other hand, constructive patriotism entails the attachment to a country featuring critical loyalty, questioning and criticism of leadership, and a desire for positive change (Schatz and Ervin 213). Unlike blind patriotism, constructive patriotism includes the attachment to and the attention to the wellbeing of the group, and an inclusive orientation to the other people outside the group (Schatz and Staub 214).
Characteristics of a Patriotic Leader
According to Livi et al. (142), the roots of patriotic leadership can be associated with the value dimension of the conservatism versus openness-to-change axis. A truly patriotic leader gears towards stimulation and self-direction of the people, as well as benevolence, hedonism, and universalism. A patriotic leader demonstrates several characteristics, which are expected from any patriotic citizen. First, the leader understands that the violation of one citizen’s rights puts the rights of all other people at risk. As such, many patriotic leader endeavors for the protection of freedoms and rights of all people without endorsing any laws that lead to the discrimination of any group. Second, a patriotic leader understands the importance of defending the importance of upholding the rights of others even when they conflict with personal beliefs. In this case, the leader applies the basic principle that humanity applies to all and not only a group of people or nation. Third, a truly patriotic leader understands the importance of checking the balance and upholding the division of power among the three branches of the government. Therefore, the leader is expected to reject attempts that could undermine or circumvent the balance. Fourth, a patriotic leader is expected to challenge and hold other leaders accountable for their actions that could portray loss of patriotism. Consequently, he or she is expected to speak openly about the misconduct of others and hold them accountable to ensure that service to the nation is based on integrity. Fifth, a patriotic leader acknowledges the core principles associated with individual rights to security and privacy. The understanding amounts to the protection of the citizens against illegal searches and seizures to ensure the preservation of freedom. Sixth, the leader is expected to respect diversity and cultural orientations of all people. In essence, this implies that the leader should promote the general welfare of the entire population and seek alliance with other groups that can lead to the success and wellbeing of the entire human race.
Patriotism versus Nationalism
Patriotism has a significant difference from nationalism. Nationalism is widely accepted because most people understand the nation-state as the fundamental carrier of popular democracy. From a liberal perspective, nationalism is considered as a tamed identification with a nation-state that characterizes reconciliation of nationalism obligation on the socio-cultural context with liberalism obligation on the individual autonomy (Fossum 3). According to Livi et al (141), nationalism is founded on the ideology that envisages other nations from a comparative point of view and characterizes the desire to portray superiority of one’s nation. Nationalism demands a submissive attitude to the state and the leaders. Consequently, dissent and criticism are considered as signs of unjustified disloyalty and rebellion. In many instances, adherence to nationalism leads to the development of policies geared towards isolation, ethnic cleansing, and deportation of foreigners (Lutcheva 192).
Essentially, the above characterization shows a significant contrast with the attitudes and principles of patriotism. For instance, Livi et al. (142) consider constructive patriotism as a behavioral attachment to the nation with aspects of aptitude, flexibility, and willingness to regard to the welfare of the country. Essentially, this is unlike nationalism where one can easily criticize and accept criticism of the country or its leaders. While both nationalism and patriotism are based on norms and values related to national identity, patriotism is oriented towards passions and sentiments of human cohabitation (Lutcheva 192). Moreover, studies have shown that nationalism characterizes blind support for the nation and the leaders while constructive patriotism has a negative correlation with such blind support. It is also worth noting that nationalistic sentiments have shown a significant positive correlation with derogation and isolation of out-groups while patriotism has a negative correlation with ethnic exclusion.
Importance of Patriotic Leadership
Leaders should understand that their duty is to serve the people rather than their self-interests. As such, it is paramount for them to develop an understanding of the nature of patriotic leadership. Developing patriotism through putting the welfare of the state and all people first is requisite for democracy. Patriotism creates participatory citizenship that ensures that the leader engages the populace in the affairs of the country and puts the interests of the nation above self. As a patriotic leader, one understands that criticizing misdeeds of other people is a way of protecting democracy and serving the interests of all. Moreover, leaders should develop patriotism before seeking elected positions as a way of enhancing self-determination. Essentially, the existence of critical and flexible sentiments towards national identity could enable the leaders to discharge their responsibilities with the aim of promoting accountability and public interest. The development of patriotism before seeking elected positions is also important in the quest of discouraging authoritarianism. The critical approach towards leadership taken by patriotic leaders implies that they cannot allow encroachment of the country by leaders who seek to subdue the rights of the citizenry. Lastly, patriotic leadership is crucial in the overall economic development of the people because the leader understands that the contribution of everyone in the society matters to the country.
I’m inviting all worldwide leaders and emerging leaders to put the love of their nations above their own interest by developing patriotic minds. No one should contest for leadership service because of personal gain. Accountability must be enforced at all levels.
Dr. John S. Famodimu
Publisher & Chief Executive Officer
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