Vote Like a Patriot

How to Vote Like A Patriot  100310
Fringe Politics: Balanced Bias Editorial

Of all the things idiots do to piss me off, number one is to misuse the word “patriot”.  It’s supposed to be a good word, something to be proud of, but most of my life it’s been used to despicable ends.
A patriot isn’t someone who loves his government above truth.  That’s mostly how I’ve heard the word, and it isn’t someone who hates anyone; hating is not part of patriotism.  It isn’t someone who blindly follows liars to war.  Vietnam was not a patriotic war.  Iraq was not.  These were not wars to safeguard the freedoms of our people.

A patriot is someone who loves freedom and loves his fellow countryman.  There is only one thing that stands America as different from other nations: our liberty comes from the Creator.  The government can’t give us freedom, God has given us freedom, or providence has, or freedom is woven into our genes.  That belief is all that separates us from France.  

Core to that belief is the understanding that our rights are leveraged on the rights of others.  This is true in a subtractive sense, in that as my freedom increases, yours necessarily decreases; if I have the right to smoke in a café you don’t have the right not to breath my smoke.  We have to be thoughtful of how we exercise freedom because of that.
But freedom is also leveraged in an additive way; when I increase your freedom I really increase my own.  If we are patriots, and we understand freedom as something core to our being, we will safeguard the freedom of our fellows.

Indeed, we have a history of that.  The founding fathers, like Europeans everywhere at the time, did not assume that women should vote or own property, and did assume that non-Europeans were not quite as human as they.  But those first patriots understood the importance of the principle of liberty being resident in the person.  The genius of their idea was greater than even they understood, and a hundred years after the inception of that idea, non-Europeans were included, and eighty years after that, women were included.  In that way, we have increased the freedom of our fellows, our mothers and wives, our non-European neighbors and friends.  True, we were, to our shame, later than other nations at outlawing slavery and at giving women property and suffrage rights, but our instinct for freedom still prevailed.

But freedom isn’t easy for everyone to understand.  Indeed, if you find that doing as others do is all the freedom you need, then you could live anywhere.  It’s only those who find their life’s course to be singular who need freedom as we conceive it, resident, bestowed by the Creator.  

It is that freedom to be different that patriots defend.  They don’t defend it by killing people over oil, they defend it by voting, and by serving on juries.  

As the dots on the computer screen converge to make an image, so our votes converge to create an image of us as a nation. 

Pixels, isolated

It’s human nature to want to ostracize people, to vilify them.  It’s easy and fun, and studies show it increases social cohesion to have an “out group”.  Look at the cohesive power ostracizing the Jews gave the Germans in World War II, and the cohesive power it gave European pioneers to see Native Americans as inferior.  Communists, draft dodgers, queers, drug addicts, terrorists, little Mexican kids, people who poop by the river.  It makes us feel closer to “decent” people to ostracize others.  We can’t help our selves, we’re furry little mammals and when we behave without thought we’re little different from wolves or monkeys.  

Pixels, converged

When we vote, though, we need to act with thought.  We need to savor and wield that insight that the first patriots expressed for us: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This means, to vote like a patriot, we don’t support laws that force other people to be like we are; we recognize their innate right to be different from us.  We don’t vote for representatives who can’t clearly verbalize a clear understanding of liberty.

Every candidate, in their platform, describes what freedoms they’ll protect, and what freedoms they’ll try to deny.  The parties have divided us by dividing our freedoms: we all know that if you need an abortion you’ll vote Democrat and if you want to own a gun you’ll vote Republican.  Neither party is clearly patriotic; both suck on some level.  We can’t simply vote straight party line, unless that party is the patriotic party.

Increase your freedom by protecting my right to be different from you, and I’ll increase my freedom by protecting yours.  Vote like a patriot.

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