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Patriotism and Dissent: Foundations for Independence Day July 4, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in politics.
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Communists and China have a no dissent policy and now conservatives in Washington also have a no dissent policy.

–Washington Journal caller from Maryland

Happy Independence Day.

Today’s Washington Journal included an extensive debate on whether dissent is patriotic or an attack on our nation. It was an interesting talk and it seems the majority of people fall into one of two camps:

  • Dissent is Patriotic – Americans are obligated to dissent when the nation is headed in the wrong direction. Without dissent, free speech is impaired and it pushes the nation towards irrational or misguided policy because the people refuse to make their voice heard.
  • Dissent is Unpatriotic – Most dissenters are disingenuous and are opposing policies for political gain and not the betterment of society. Dissent fractures the country, weakens our ability to carry out policy and hurts our image abroad.

Another Washington Journal caller from Wisconsin:

Dissent is our civic duty. It is a duty set forth by our forefathers…. Thomas Jefferson said a man who gives up his freedoms for security will lose both. It seems to be something our country is heading to. We are giving up our freedoms for security… As Americans we agree to disagree.

To brand dissent as unpatriotic not only undermines a civic duty, it destroys one of the distinguishing factors between democracy and oppressive forms of government like communism and dictatorships. Our Founding Fathers rejected the British rule of America, ingraining the importance of dissent into the very birth of our nation. To claim dissent is unpatriotic directly conflicts with the ideals America has put forth in both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.

Those who wish to stifle dissent must think about the implications of such a push. Without dissent, how do you keep America heading in the right direction when people in Washington lead it astray? Without dissent, how do you develop compromises and solutions to the most important issues facing our country? You can’t.
To claim dissent is unpatriotic is actually a ridiculous notion. It is anti-democratic and foolish… a game of “follow the leader” will force our country towards extremes and destroy the accountability leaders must have to the American people. What holds leaders accountable if not dissent?

Patriotism is now used as a weapon for political gain. Most recently, Sen. George Allen (R-VA) indirectly questioned Democratic challenger James Webb’s patriotism because he did not support an amendment to ban flag burning. The perfect response came from Webb’s strategist Steve Jarding:

While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.’s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada.

Classic.

Americans thrive because we challenge authority. We cannot tolerate politicians using patriotism as a linguistic weapon intended to alienate ill-informed voters. It is important to remember that Independence Day not only marks the birth of our nation, it is also an irrefutable example of how dissent is quite patriotic and can lead to something greater than anyone could have ever imagined.

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