Opinion: Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You…
There was a lot asked of the American citizenry during World War II. Save gas and stockpile metal. Volunteer to help build ammunition. Buy war bonds. If you couldn’t fight in the war you were expected to help with the efforts at home. This is the kind of thing that you did when your country was at war. Being a patriot meant action. It meant a little bit of sacrifice. And the people rose to the challenge.
In the late 60’s, in the face of what many considered an unjust, unending, and incredibly expensive war, the populace again arose to action. This time to exercise our right to dissent. Things became ugly. Protestors had to face their country’s military, were ignored by the powers that be, were largely dismissed by the older generation. But still they persisted. Being a patriot means defending a country against it’s government. It required active participation.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we saw the populace again begin to rally. We wanted to do something. To be involved. But we weren’t asked to sacrifice. We were asked to spend. Live your life as if nothing happened. Go out to dinner more, go to the movies. If you don’t buy those sunglasses then the terrorists have won. Sadly, we rose to that challenge a little too well.
Over the past decade there has been a noticeable growth in both political divisiveness and patriotic apathy. To us, being a good patriot is now listening closely to our favorite news pundits and parroting what they say a little bit louder than the guy on the other side who is doing the same thing. We’ve lost our sense of involvement.
And it may be because we feel powerless. Both sides of the aisle agree that it’s big money that controls Washington now. That unless you can hire a lobbyist, your voice will probably never be heard. And though that is true, history has shown that a people united have toppled tyrants and influenced government in places far more hostile than ours. We can change things. A people get the government they deserve. Our years of inaction and passivity has earned us this government. If you don’t like it, then it is time to rise up.
For conservatives, this means more than just advocating for a smaller government. With less federal programs, more of a burden and responsibility falls to the community. How will you feed the poor? How will you protect the innocent? How will you rise up as an individual to fight—not just against collectivism—but to ensure that every other individual has the same opportunities as you?
And if you are a liberal, what are you doing to help regulate the regulators? How will you keep our strong central government from becoming bloated, ineffective and useless? What responsibility are you taking in the fight for civil liberties? For protection from corporate interests?
We all have different ideas for how government should be run. Some of those differences are admittedly quite major. However, the one thing almost everyone can agree on is that we don’t like how it is being run now and all the vitriol in the world is not going to make it better.
This blog exists to help us understand our difference and seek out a middle ground. We believe that a good patriot is one who is well informed and an active part of their democracy. No matter what political side you are on, it is time to put down our signs, get out of the sidelines and actually get involved.