“Why,” the email writer wanted to know, “do you hate President Bush.”

I don’t.

“And,” the email continued, “you obviously hate Republicans and conservatives. Why?”

Again, I don’t. I don’t hate anybody. Hate is not part of how I feel about people.

I do, however, have problems with the blind partisanship of the President, the Republicans and the so-called conservative movement in this country.

There is a big difference between hate and concern, between patriotism and partisanship, between love of country and blind, destructive allegiance to a political party, belief or ideological position.

But I do hate partisanship, be it Republican or Democratic, conservative or liberal, right or left. I hate it with every fiber of my soul, with every beat of my heart, with every conscious thought my beleaguered brain can generate.

Partisanship brings out the ugliness in people. It cannot exist without the inane belief that one group of people are better than others, that only one ideal can exist in a society or that only one philosophy can determine a country’s fate or future.

Partisanship runs counter to the very concept of democracy. It disallows the notion that a free people can co-exist with differing philosophies, different religious beliefs (or no religious belief) or opposing positions on an issue.

Partisanship demands lockstep conformity, a unified acceptance of one, narrow point-of-view in a country where freedom of choice, individual rights and diverse opinions are supposed to be the norm.

Partisanship tries to stamp out debate by declaring opposing points of view unpatriotic. It ridicules the lifestyles of others who do not adopt the structure of those who control the government.

In other words, partisanship stifles freedom and without freedom there cannot be a United States of America.

Until we restore freedom to our own country, it is hypocritical to think we can “export democracy” to other parts of the world.

How can we teach others to embrace a form of government that no longer exists in our own country?