Donald Trump

What Trump (and Obama) Got Wrong About Loyalty and Patriotism

Trump said "through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other." That's exactly backward.



In his inaugural address today, Donald Trump drew a connection between loyalty and patriotism, claiming that loyalty to country leads to individual virtue.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.

In his first inaugural in 2009, Barack Obama also tied the two concepts together:

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends—honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism—these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility—a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

When you set aside Obama's customary poetry and Trump's habitual bluntness, both men are circling around the same idea: that loyalty to the state will lead Americans on a path to personal goodness. That working together toward a common goal of national greatness is the way to self-betterment. They're far from alone in this view; hell, flirtation with the causal relationship between being a good man and a good citizen goes all the way back to Plato.

But for a refreshing contrast to this state-centered view of life in the-not-too-distant past, take a gander at the inaugural remarks of George H.W. Bush, who was unable to attend today due to illness:

We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and town better than he found it….No President, no government, can teach us to remember what is best in what we are.

NEXT: Trump Redeclares War on Terror in Inaugural Address

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  1. How about this: do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.

    1. That’s the Silver Rule.

      1. I thought the Silver Rule was “An eye for an eye”, on the theory that your assailant is subject to the Golden Rule, so if he just put out your eye, he has done to you as he would have you do to him.

        1. Actually, this is the Golden Rule.
          Golden Rule

  2. Today I am especially proud to be a loyal and patriotic American.

    1. El Diablo!! Irse!!

  3. The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.

    Yeah I remember that part. The tower of something, wasn’t it?

    1. So pleasant, you wouldn’t believe it. And I know pleasing, trust me. Cosmo actually asked me – wonderful periodical – they asked me once for 12 tips to make a man go wild. And I went to the Bible, and I came back to them with 20. They were astounded, so surprised, sold so many copies.

      And is he talking about (((God’s people)))?

  4. So, any wager on what Trump’s hair will look like after four (or even eight(!)) years in office? I think it will sprout legs of its own.

    1. Based on some prose I read recently, it may get fed up with the Hat and just wander off on its own.

      1. The Hair 2024, The Hat 2032.

      2. I had SugarFree’s horror fiction on my mind, too.


            1. Okay. I won’t tell you. Sometimes it’s better to pretend the world is less frightening than it actually is.

    2. The Hair will not change. The Hair is eternal. Four years from now Trump will be bowed and withered, barely able to support his own weight as he rasps the Hair’s will to his secretaries. Eight years from now, the Hair will be carried from place to place on a pillow of the finest American silks and stuffed with the softest American goose down. It will issue commands by interfacing physically with underlings, and it will be fed three live children every day.

      1. Wait…so no new host for the Hair, hmmm?

        1. It might go to Barron at some point, but it’s got all the time in the world.

          1. Why not Ivanka?? That scenario is ripe for shenanigans.

        2. America is the host now.

  5. So – when do we start rounding up illegals and bombing them arabs?

    1. What do you mean “start”?

    2. Given what’s been going on the last 8 years, it’s not like we’re gonna stop doing that now.

      Or is that the joke?

      1. Guys, we were doing so well not replying to it. Don’t do so now.

        1. Didn’t realize who it was. 🙁

          1. dajjal and AddictionMyth are the same annoying poster with nothing clever to say.

  6. I’m confused. Is he sworn in yet? Does anyone see Russian tanks rolling through our streets or signs of a military coup? I was promised something along those lines immediately after he became president. Maybe he’s just waiting until everyone is drunk at the after parties/ pity parties a la the Red Wedding.

    1. If “Rains of Castamere” starts to play during an inaugural party concert, run.

  7. A watermelon (red on the inside, green on the outside!) prog friend of mine and my best friend from my youth who’s turned honest to goodness white nationalist in the last few years (I have no clue why I remain FB friends with either of them) are currently having it out in the comments to one of my FB posts about… I have no clue. But it’s kind of funny.

    1. Specifics?

  8. I think Trump, in his own way, was trying to respond to the cries of “racist!” and “[insert group]-phobe!” by saying that all Americans must get together and put aside their differences etc.

    Though of course he expressed it in a way which seemed to make patriotism the inspiration for personal loyalty not vice versa.

  9. Would would would wouldn’t.

      1. Crusty’s no bottom.

    1. Which side did you start from?

  10. RE: What Trump (and Obama) Got Wrong About Loyalty and Patriotism

    Since neither of these two assholes never served in the USA’s armed forces.
    Lecture me some more about patriotism from people who are willing to send other people into mortal combat.

    1. Though if they *had* served, I still wouldn’t be interested in having them send others of to war – that’s John McCain stuff.

      1. Because he is in Congress?

    2. Why not? I get lectured all the time on Facebook by people who somehow think that the American Flag represents current and former members of the military only, who believe in mandated national service requirements, who treat any skepticism about any American military involvement as hate for the USA, and who seem to believe the ranks of our military are filled with only the best and brightest this country has to offer, and who don’t believe that civilians should be in charge of the armed forces.

      Odd that so many willing to fight at the drop of a hat and die for this country understand so little about the principles it was founded on.

  11. Shit has become truly terrible to hold up George ‘CIA’ Bush as a good example of much.

  12. “When you set aside Obama’s customary poetry and Trump’s habitual bluntness, both men are circling around the same idea: that loyalty to the state will lead Americans on a path to personal goodness.”

    I guess we all read this stuff from our own perspectives, but I think Obama’s take was more about his loyalty to the poor and minorities, etc.–rather than Wall Street or special interests.

    In Trump’s case, when he’s talking about loyalty, I think he’s serious about putting the interests of America first. He may be wrong about what our interests are in terms of trade, but I don’t think his primary concern in foreign policy is likely to be making sure the Iranians can enrich their own uranium, that refugees can resettle in Idaho, or the status of free speech in Russia.

  13. Caption Contest:

    “I’m telling you, man those Secret Service guys can hook you up with anything you can think of. It’s awesome.”

    1. “Michelle always smells like that.”

    2. “There’s a secret code on the back of the Declaration of Independence”.

    3. “Fine, even in the frumpy dress your wife is hotter. But if I go with you now Michelle will make me wear the collar later.”

    4. “So nothing I say will convince you to keep Biden?”

  14. loyalty to the state will lead Americans on a path to personal goodness

    Just the way our founders wanted it.

  15. When I talk about patriotism and loyalty, I’m talking about the ideals set forth in the Constitution. The thing that makes America great is that we have things like the First Amendment and the Second Amendment (the UK, Australia, and Canada have neither). Those principles aren’t just what make America great–they’re what make us American.

    God bless every idiot that stands up for our First Amendment and Second Amendment rights out of a sense of patriotism and loyalty. The proper role of government is to protect our rights, and the proper role of the President is defend our rights, as well. Our Presidents swear to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”, and that’s the standard by which I judge them.

    Bush and Obama were both miserable failures.

    Preserving, protecting, and defending the principles in our Constitution is certainly what I mean when I talk about loyalty and patriotism. Let’s hope that’s what Trump meant, too. I guess we’ll find out.

  16. I agree that loyalty to the state is not the best way to “bring us together”. But I also believe that it’s OK to be proud to be an American, and if pride in being an American brings us together than I’m for that as well.

    When I hear “American Patriotism” I think of things like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which are a list of things that the state cannot do to you/take away from you. Is it bad to be proud of that?

    1. When love of country is predicated on the sacrifice of the individual is when it becomes illegitimate.

      1. I agree with that. But I also believe that our love of liberty must at times rely on the sacrifice of the individual in order to prevent tyranny from running amok. This does not mean every and any time, but WWII for instance required the sacrifice of those who died defending liberty and freedom. I don’t think this makes it illegitimate.

        1. When the state uses force to require the sacrifice of the individual, that IS tyranny running amok.

        2. I disagree with the draft. If a country is threatened and worth preserving, it’s citizens will willingly fight to preserve it.

          Not to minimize those that were drafted and fought bravely, of course.

          But in a free country, the state serves the people, not the other way around. And the people are certainly not bound to serve their fellow citizens. Patriotism has been perverted to serve both those ends many times, which I think makes quite a few people leery of all calls to patriotism.

          1. Yeah, I am not a fan of slave armies.

          2. Yeah, the draft seems like a terrible idea and I’m glad we’ve done away with it. I can’t imagine a situation in the future where we would need to reinstate the draft considering the number of volunteers and reserves already available. And any conflict that would involve defending our actual continental US will mean that our volunteers had become over run and everything would be gone to shit at that point anyways.

          3. If a country is threatened and worth preserving, it’s citizens will willingly fight to preserve it.


      2. Oh SugarFree, always with the very quotable writings.

        *Scribbles notes down in tome labeled “Antisaccharine Esoterica”*

    2. I also think of the US as the best hope for peace and prosperity in the world, in spite of our many shortcomings. I want a President who actually believes the US is #1 and wants to promote our way of life rather than someone who’s constantly apologizing for it. Incidentally, I think this is one way in which both Trump and HRC are better than Obama. I really think that Obama didn’t really think that the US was the greatest country in the world.

      1. This. See what soros said? what a scum bag

    3. I like rooting for the US in the Olympics, World Cup, Ryder Cup etc. For me it would be a real tragedy if irresponsible government results in the US collapsing and breaking up into smaller countries before we get good enough to win the World Cup.

  17. Trumpelstiltskins! Trumpelstiltskins!!

  18. I still say the best part of the Trump Presidency will be when Trudeau has to interact with him. Here’s someone that Trudeau should, and likely does, loath and represent everything he hates, but he’s going to have to lick his boots out of fear over NAFTA. A little bit of humbling will do him some good.

    1. This Canada talk has to stop.


      1. Where will you get your progressive rock bands and game show hosts from Crusty? Checkmate.

        1. System of a Down is from California, and Drew Carey is an American, and Craig Ferguson is now an American, so we don’t need you.

          Hell, we even stole your beloved World Junior championship, and we don’t even care that we did! Your time is over, Canada.

          1. You didn’t elect our Manchurian candidate, Ted Cruz, and now you’ll pay! Curse you America, we would have gotten away with it too!

            1. I mean, your entire country was watching as a few guys from Minnesota and New York took your precious world junior title. That must be a terrible feeling.

      2. You mean like in “Game of Thrones”?

        1. Canadians are generally pastier than white walkers

          1. But the white walkers don’t need no socialized medicine.

      3. And Canada will pay for it. But them crazy Canucks for some strange reason are going to call it the Southern Wall.

    2. I think trump will run circles around him. I think trump has been hustling his opponents this entire time…he clearly is 2 steps ahead and they have no idea what to fucking do

      1. Loves checkers. Hates chinese checkers.

  19. Speaking of communitarianism, and its ultimate expression in love-of-State hive-mind-ism, David Brooks is calling upon all true Americans of conscience to band together to thwart Trump’s every effort, because Trump does not conform to what Brooks believes a President should be.

    The NYT is an insane asylum, with typewriters.

    1. Brooks is a pure totalitarian

    2. We should send in the monkeys. At least that way at some point we would eventually get some Shakespeare out of there and less poop flinging.

  20. See being an american socialist….my definition is socialism is people being free to make their own choices (free markets and enterprise).

    I am not really into the top down central planning and utopian places like Venezuela and Cuba while glorious for top men and the plutocrats….sucks for everyone else

    1. And yet the policies and politicians you endorse lead us more in the direction of the Cubas and Venezuelas of the world. Go figure.

      1. No i am the good socialist. Min wage, licensing, carbon taxes, regs plus more welfare === harder to get out of poverty

      2. You are arguing with another impostor.

    2. I think the day everyone was hihn might have been more entertaining, but this is kinda funny.

      1. Meh. Not stupid enough, too self-aware, generally bad satire.

        1. It pissed off the real amsoc earlier, so there’s that.

          1. pretty much. The HIhn ones really got under his skin.
            Where is he anyway?

          2. Was it him, or was it newcomer american socia – capital “i” – ist?

    3. So, your definition of socialism is “the diametric opposite of socialism”?

      1. Goddammit i fell for the fake amsoc again. I hate days like today.

        1. Mama said there would be days like this.

          1. There’d be days like this, my mama said.

      2. Lol. Check out this one is a better one

    4. liar

  21. Yeah it would be nice if the president was just the guy who told the managers what to do and signed various papers rather than telling us all how to think. Unfortunately, that ship seems to have sailed.

    And more unfortunately, lots of people look to the president for “inspiration” or “leadership” or whatever. It’s a real market response to a big chunk of dumb (but real) consumer demand.

  22. Your life can have no meaning other than as an expression of love for the State.

  23. Cuba and Venezeula are the most prosperous countries out there!! (if you are a TOP MAN and plutocrat)

  24. Loyalty to people is a virtue; loyalty to the state is a Nazi prison guard walking Jews into the showers.

  25. Why does david brook call himself a conservative? He is a pure liberal fellating top man

  26. I think he has a bit of a point in using patriotism to link neighbors. Neighborhoods seem a lot more transient in this generation. Either you a poor and bouncing from apartment to apartment, or you are upwardly mobile and relocating for work. In both cases, I find that by the time I get around to introducing myself to the new neighbor, he has moved.

    It’s helpful to have a common framework. Women seem to do this through kid stuff.

  27. As long as we’re comparing Trump and Obama, somebody want to explain to me the underlying difference between Trump’s insistence that he’s gonna stop companies trying to send American jobs overseas and Obama’s “you didn’t build that”? If Carrier wants to build a factory in Mexico and hire a bunch of Mexicans, whose jobs are they stealing? Aren’t those Carrier’s jobs? To the extent that Carrier benefits from being in the US, isn’t that what they pay taxes for and doesn’t America benefit from having Carrier here? Where does this idea that Carrier somehow “owes” America something come from, isn’t that just another way of saying they didn’t build that? Carrier came to a series of mutually agreeable arrangements with their employees and their suppliers and the relevant governments, we’re square with them. Nobody owes anybody anything more than what was agreed to.

    It’s like the people who claim Walmart is subsidized to the extent that Walmart trucks use the public highways. The highways are paid for by fuel taxes and Walmart pays more fuel taxes than anybody. Walmart doesn’t somehow “owe” us for the use of the roads, they pay for that. If you don’t like the price they were charged, take it up with somebody else.

    1. As long as we’re comparing Trump and Obama, somebody want to explain to me the underlying difference between Trump’s insistence that he’s gonna stop companies trying to send American jobs overseas and Obama’s “you didn’t build that”?

      Domestic v. Foreign Policy.

      “You didn’t build that” was a repudiation of property rights for the “sake” of intranational interests.

      “You took are jerbs” is a repudiation of property rights for the “sake” of international interests.

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