…a lot of our current politics has less to do with actual policy disagreements than with resolving status anxieties. You can think of patriotism as a kind of status socialism—a collectivization of the means of self-esteem production. You don’t have to graduate from an Ivy or make a lot of money to feel proud or special about being an American; you don’t have to do a damn thing but be born here. Cultural valorization of “American-ness” relative to other status markers, then, is a kind of redistribution of psychological capital to those who lack other sources of it.
Being American is so super special that you don’t need to have a lot of money, it doesn’t matter that the country is turning into a plutocracy – “’cause, I’m an American and that makes me upper-class” (even while living in a trailer park or the back seat of my car)