Can Obama Turn New Yorkers Into Patriots?

The video cuts between Kid Rock shrieking into a microphone and shots of National Guard troops fighting in what we assume to be Iraq; at one point, they come upon some brown children of indeterminate but presumably Iraqi origin and “save” them. Then there are some inexplicable shots of a Nascar race. And then Dale Earnhardt Jr. shows up!

This commercial is what has passed for patriotism since at least 9/11, and certainly ever since the Iraq war: a jingoistic, macho expression of American exceptionalism. And if Nascar and cowboy boots are involved, all the better.

“The frame that Republicans have taken is that patriotism is about protecting our country from its enemies,” said Andrew Rasiej, the Manhattan-based Internet entrepreneur and founder of Personal Democracy Forum. “The Obama view is that patriotism is about cultural diversity.”

He added: “So the frame of patriotism in the Obama campaign holistically is oriented around openness and inclusion and the American dream, and the American ideal that there is a place for everyone in our society.”

That’s usually the sort of thematic turf taken up by the purebred liberals who run in primaries but don’t actually win. But with an Obama presidency so close to becoming a reality—promising an unprecedented experiment, following the Bush years, in global image reclamation—it’s all dovetailing nicely with how the new patriotism might play out among the kids. “I think people will see Americans differently,” said 19-year-old Cindy Morand, a student at the University of Buffalo who grew up in the East Village; she contributed an essay to Red: The Book, an anthology of teenage girl writing, and has also blogged for the Huffington Post. “They can see we’re getting over our own social problems. We’ve changed as a country.”

Alexis Wiggins, a 30-year-old writer, recently moved to Spain from New York. “The prospect of an Obama presidency makes me filled with pride,” she said. “Imagine having a president that people around the world admire!”

She added: “When I first moved here, I’d always say, ‘I’m American, but I didn’t vote for Bush!’ Because if you said you were American, people here would start right in on the Iraq war and all their grievances with Bush’s policies. I’m so nervous something will go wrong, but I can’t wait until Obama gets elected. I will walk around beaming, unafraid to say to everyone here again, with a smile on my face, ‘Soy Americana.’”

Of course, an Obama presidency isn’t going to be all ice cream and ponies. But tell it to the liberal elite.

The other day, an issue of Men’s Vogue arrived accompanied by a red-bordered notecard with red and blue stars along the top. It was a note from the magazine’s editor, Jay Fielden, accompanied by a USA lapel pin designed by the graphic designer Michael Bierut. Mr. Fielden’s note about the pin read, in part, “It’s an attempt to put a personal stamp on a far-reaching notion that extends to all points on the political spectrum—pride in America.” The new patriotism has, it seems, even reached Condé Nast.

Can Obama Turn New Yorkers Into Patriots?