The Essence of Patriotism

22192_839527319470759_4264086582083504528_nAs we approach the upcoming anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, we’ll naturally see a rise in the number of flags outside of houses, along with a surge in people talking about national security, American exceptionalism, and all sorts of other reasons why our country is so great. At the same time, we’ll also see a surge of anti Americanism by those people who, no matter what the facts may be, constantly insist that this country has been the cause of all the world’s problem since the dawn of time. Although the debates on these matters tend to revolve around all sorts of various perspectives, they always seem to be centered around a concept known as “patriotism.” That being the case, it would make sense to take a moment to ask ourselves exactly what patriotism is, and what it really means.

As with everything, the best way to understand a higher-level concept is to peel away the outer layers and get to the core, then to build back from the ground up.

So, what are the core elements of patriotism, and what are the elements that are associated with patriotic values? Clearly these tend to be among the more selfless actions and values like sacrifice, pride in your work, honor, integrity, dependability and the ability to go out of your way for others. But even beyond these actions is the ability to recognize and appreciate and acknowledge these actions when they are taken by others.

So it would seem that patriotism is ultimately about the ability to say thank you. The willingness to show some appreciation for the efforts and contributions of others. The understanding and the appreciation of the fact that the only reason you have the luxuries and opportunities you do is because of the work and the effort and the sacrifices of the people who came before you who built a system that allowed those opportunities – whether for business or pleasure – to develop.

Based on this quick analysis, we can conclude that, at the end of the day, patriotism is really about one thing – gratitude. Either you have it, or you don’t. It’s as simple as that.

The GOP’s GIF Gaffe

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Prior to going into the music industry and creating Madison Rising to convey patriotic and pro-American messages to people in new, exciting and massively inspiring ways, I spent several years on Wall street, most notably at the now legendary Blackstone Group on Park Avenue in New York. Although I am no longer involved in that industry, I do keep tabs of the market and do try to stay on top of the news in the financial sector. One of the best ways to do this is by reading the Wall Street Journal, which I try to do at least a couple of times each week.

As I settled down to read this Saturday’s edition of that paper, an article at the bottom of the front page immediately caught my eye. The title of the article was “GOP Social Campaign Gets Animated Over GIFs” with the subtitle “Aiming at young voters, House Republicans deploy GIFs of celebrities including Will Ferrell and Taylor Swift.”

Now, reaching the younger demographic has always been a major weakness for Conservatives, so my initial thought was that they are finally starting to get the point. How wrong I was.

As I read through the article, I quickly realized what they were doing was just more of the same simplistic, uninspiring and and embarrassingly out-of-touch nonsense they try to pass off as a way to reach out to the youth in every election cycle. “We’re using GIFs to communicate our messages more creatively,” said Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), who is leading a campaign dubbed GOP Labs to train lawmakers on social media. She says the GIFs help the GOP reach younger audiences and “illustrate complex issues in a more fun and innovative way.”

Therein lies the problem with this approach. The entire premise is wrong. How anyone can assume that slow, bulky, senseless little 5-second animations of things that people (especially younger people) don’t want to see or hear can possibly be fun (let alone innovative) is beyond me. Wake up. The younger demographic grew up with the internet, video games, 3D movies, YouTube, Hulu and the ability to get whatever THEY want WHENEVER they want. If there is one thing they know how to do, it’s how to immediately tune out anything they don’t want to hear.

That’s exactly why it is is so important to give them something they DO want to hear. Something cool, something energetic, something that can entertain, educate and inspire all at the same time. That’s why I created Madison Rising, because there is nothing cooler than great rock music. Our music has saved lives, taken hundreds of events all over the country to the next level, brought generations of families together and made grown men cry. There is no force out there that can give you more of a bang for your buck than leveraging pop culture to convey the messages you want people to hear – and that is exactly what we do.

Let me make this clear, the biggest problem conservatives face in any election is appealing to younger people. The powers that be need to recognize that the swing vote in every election is the younger demographic and the only way to get that vote is by changing people’s perception of what is cool. If conservatives can’t do that, everything else they do is a complete waste of time. I can tell you right now that spending millions of dollars on GIFFs won’t do anything except pad the pockets of a few graphic artists and give the Left more fodder to ridicule just how out of touch the GOP really is.