“A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”  Patriot. (2019) – Oxford Online Dictionary 

“One who loves and supports his or her country.”  Patriot. (2019) – Merriam-Webster.com

We are hearing a lot about patriots and patriotism as we approach the 2020 election. 

But, what does it really mean to be a true patriot? 

Is it blind fealty to a charismatic leader? 

Is it taking up arms to “back the blue?” 

Is it waving the flag or wearing one on your t-shirt? 

Or, might it require a more critical approach to evaluating, over the long-term, what sort of country we have been, are today and wish to become?

As the above-quoted definitions demonstrate, the word patriot is devoid of meaning without the concept of country. 

Without an understanding of what the United States of America is, one will have a tough time being a true patriot. 

While we live in a time of alternative facts and fake news, there are certain truths that remain self-evident. 

All human beings are created equal. 

All human beings have certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. 

Government is instituted to protect those rights, but only with the consent of the governed. 

The consent of the governed is sought this November, and the question on the ballot is: What sort of country do you want?

Real patriotism is earned.  It is not something claimed by using symbols in campaign ads, Instagram accounts, Facebook pages or yard signs. 

A patriot card is not issued with the purchase of every AR-15 assault rifle. 

Patriotism is a demonstrated and enduring commitment to the self-evident truths at the foundation of the American Experiment.  As we now understand, perhaps more than ever, the American Republic truly is an experiment. 

The norms of behavior, decorum, public discourse, peaceful protest and the responses thereto have seemingly been thrown out the window like roadside trash. 

But, we the governed need not give our consent to the further degradation of our laboratory of democracy. 

We can show up.  We can support true patriots. 

And, we can walk the road to a more perfect union picking up the discarded litter along the way.

Try not to despair; tamp down the anxiety; and vote.  Tell your friends and family to vote.  If you are unable to vote by mail, or are uncomfortable doing so, make a plan and execute. 

Volunteer to be a poll worker, especially if you are young and healthy.  And, most importantly, be a true patriot by living up to the highest ideals of this country.

It may be tough to imagine, but our predecessors in citizenry overcame more difficult challenges than we face today. 

Things are bad, to say the least, but a bet against the American people has always been a loser. 

Let’s hold onto our winning record in 2020 and beyond by supporting true patriots up and down the ballot.

Martin, a Buena Vista attorney, was appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon as chairman of the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners in 2016 to lead the election authority for the city of Kansas City, Mo.

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