Patriotic dissent is the idea that a citizen of a republic has the right and the civic duty to not follow the crowd on matters political, but rather to stand up and try to do what's best for the country, even if it's unpopular, difficult, or labeled "unpatriotic." It is a controversial variation on the theme of civil duty in republicanism.
The majority often labels dissenters as unpatriotic.
American history is full of examples of patriotic dissent:
- In 1776 a minority of Americans became Loyalists--they were loyal to King George III after the new United States declared independence. At the end of the war about 20% left for Canada and Britain, while 80% remained and became loyal citizens.
- In early December 1941 a military officer gave Senator Burton K. Wheeler a copy of the top secret American war plan for fighting Germany. Wheeler gave it to the Chicago Tribune, which published the secrets in a desperate effort to weaken the American military so much that Roosevelt would avoid war. Pearl Harbor came a few days later and Wheeler went quiet.