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You hear a lot of talk about patriotism and freedom in an election year. Each side of a political contest claims a monopoly on both buzzwords.
But do those who bandy about claims of freedom and patriotism really understand either concept?
One would hope they do but based on the way too many use both words we doubt the validity of their words or intentions.
Consider this comment recently from a reader of Capitol Hill Blue who posted under the name of “Freedom Loving American.”
When freedom loving Americans put Dr. Ron Paul in the White House and true patriots rule the country we will put traitors like you in prison and you never see the light of day again.”
Interesting. Apparently, freedom of expression is not allowed in this person’s vision of a free, patriotic America.
We’re not the only one threatened with jail.
Over at Time, a post by Alex Altman in the magazine’s Swampland blog brought this response from a reader who called himself SlickR:
The fact that this article has more comments than the previous 6 combined just shows the fact that Ron Paul is winning, can win and will win. And journalists like Alex Altman will go in prison once things turn around.
Well, good. At least we’ll have come cell-mates under the new American “freedom” when the nation is run by “patriots.”
All too often, those who scream the loudest about “freedom” are the same ones who advocate suppression of views of those who disagree.
Is it freedom to declare everyone who disagrees an enemy and traitor to the state?
God, we hope not.
Is it patriotism to denounce all opposing views as anti-patriotic?
Not in the America envisioned by the founders.
Somewhere along the line, the concept of a nation of diverse people with differing views got lost in the din of hyperbole, inflated rhetoric and demands for strict adherence to political dogma.
When Republicans conservatives declare anyone with moderate views a RINO (Republican In Name Only), it sends a message that only extreme right-wing views are welcome.
When Democrats decry others as “not liberal enough” to be members of the party of the donkey it says “we don’t want to hear alternatives. It’s our way or the highway.”
When voters send these extremists from the right and the left to Washington, we get a gridlocked Congress where government cannot function.
And those who declare anything by government celebrate the demise of reason.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Abraham Lincoln said.
Got a news flash for you Abe. The house is divided. Has been for some time.
Even worse, those who claim they want to bring the house back together actually want to divide it further.
You can call it many things: An uncivil war, a new American revolution or game change.
But you can’t call it freedom or patriotism.