Wednesday, May 25, 2022

SHOLEH: Idaho 12th most patriotic state

| July 1, 2021 1:00 AM

Although often treated as synonymous, there is a distinct difference between being patriotic and nationalistic. One is something many feel proud of, especially as we celebrate our country’s 245th birthday.

Patriotism is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” Nationalism is defined as “identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.”

It’s that last bit that can get tricky, given historical context.

According to Merriam-Webster, patriotism is certainly the older of the two, with published evidence since the 17th century. The word “patriot” entered English via the French patriote, and traces back to the Greek word “patrios” (of one’s father). Why then we call it mother country is a mystery, but I digress.

“Nationalism” didn’t seem to enter our vocabulary until much later, just before the 19th century. While its early use seemed largely interchangeable with patriotism, they grew apart since. The definition of nationalism morphed into an exaltation above others, a promotion of one’s own culture and interests and, sometimes, race as having greater value. Too many wars, genocides and oppressive laws have been waged in the name of nationalism throughout history.

These exclusionary and concerning aspects to nationalism and contexts aren’t shared by patriotism.

So what are the characteristics of a good patriot? The finance and research site Wallethub asked the experts.

“Patriotism is about loyalty — an attachment to a particular place and/or way of life,” said University of Louisiana political science professor Christie Maloyed. “A good patriot exhibits dedication to that way of life, sacrificing one’s private time and even resources to work on behalf of one’s community.”

Patriotism isn’t necessarily myopic.

“While some may argue that a good patriot is blindly loyal to their country, in fact, a key characteristic of the good patriot is the willingness to hold their country accountable in terms of living up to the high ideals it professes, or upon which it was founded,” added Sheila Croucher, Distinguished Professor at Miami University

If they’re right, Idaho should be proud. Wallethub ranked ours 12th overall in its 2021 Most Patriotic States in America, and No. 1 in civics education requirements. We also made the top five for volunteering — the characteristic of community-focused patriotism Professor Croucher emphasized.

Ranking 50 states across 13 key indicators of patriotism including share of active and retired military, voter participation, AmeriCorps and other volunteers, and more, there is only one area where Idaho did not rank either high or around average. Idaho’s rankings (1 is most patriotic) include:

Military enlistees per 1,000 civilian adults (2013-2018): 11

Active-duty military (same measure): 29

Veterans: 10

Volunteer rate: 9

Volunteer hours per resident/rank: 5

Civics education requirement: 1

Where we could really improve, and what seems surprising given Idaho’s strong and passionate shade of patriotic red, is exercising the hard-won right to vote. Idaho’s share of adults who voted in 2020 is below the national average, ranking 33 of 50.

For the full report, see:

Please have a happy and safe Fourth! It’s very dry out there.

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Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email