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Patriotism Does Not Mean Love Of Big Government Or Support For A President
A strange metamorphosis has taken place in America, especially among conservatives. From its original definition of love of country, especially love for the founding principles of the country, patriotism has morphed into a love for bigger and bigger government. It seems that to most conservatives today, if anyone dares speak against any federal program or initiative, he or she is categorized as being unpatriotic or even ungodly. Many conservatives even equate a person's support or lack thereof for our President as being a major determinant of his or her spirituality.
However, this over-infatuation with a president, any president, is diametrically opposed to the principles upon which this country was built! In fact, America was established upon a deep and (until now) abiding distrust of governmental leaders.
Thomas Paine summarized the founding spirit when he said in 1791, "The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from the [federal] government." Our first President, George Washington agreed. He said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
Now, all of that has changed. Today's conservatives define patriotism as being nothing short of all out, unquestioned loyalty to G. W. Bush, regardless of how improper or unconstitutional his proposals and policies might be.
Furthermore, I personally know scores of preachers who actually believe that anyone who dares to so much as question President Bush is not only unpatriotic but is also in danger of hell-fire. Their fanatical loyalty to Bush runs so deep that they are willing, and even eager, to break lifelong friendships with those who do not share their unquestioned support for the man. Yet, many of George Bush's policies are potentially catastrophic!
For example, every American citizen, especially conservatives, should be alarmed at Bush's willingness to dismantle constitutional safeguards of our liberties via police state-style provisions contained in the Patriot Act. They should be pressuring their members of Congress to not only take the Patriot Act off the law books, but also pressuring them to expunge the Stalin-style Department of Homeland Security and the Nazi-like office of National Intelligence Director. Yet, because G.W. Bush is the chief promoter of these policies and agencies, they dare not lift so much as a whimper of protest.
Furthermore, the American people, especially conservatives, should be doing everything in their power to resist Bush's amnesty for illegal aliens program! The potential for economic hardship and even terrorism due to Bush's amnesty proposals cannot be overstated! Yet once again, since Bush is behind it, conservatives will say nary a word against it.
The fact is, the federal government has grown in both size and scope exponentially since G.W. Bush became president. The federal government is now bigger than ever, more intrusive than ever, and more restrictive than ever. And there is no relief in site.
However, instead of resisting the federal government's explosive growth and increasing encroachment upon our liberties, today's conservatives aggressively support and promote said growth and encroachment. Even more disgusting is that they do this under the rubric of patriotism.
Conservatives need to re-familiarize themselves with the words of President Theodore Roosevelt when he said, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else."
Furthermore, conservatives need to remember the words of President Ronald Reagan when he said, "Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem."
No, Martha, historic patriotism does not include robotic support for a president or hypnotic support for big government. Instead, traditional patriotism means support for the fundamental principles upon which America was originally founded: personal liberty, federalism, and self government. Political leaders (regardless of party) who support and promote those principles deserve our support. Political leaders (regardless of party) who do not support and promote those principles deserve not our support. Now, that's patriotism!