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Partisanship and patriotism are not the same

By Scott Tibbs, January 1, 2010

"I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you're not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration." -- Hillary Rodham Clinton

In a December 29 letter to the editor, Norma Tavis demands that conservative critics of President Barack Obama "get with the program." She challenges conservatives to "be an American and support the elected president. If not, perhaps another country would be more suitable to you."

The hypocrisy is both incredible and shamelessly brazen. Would Tavis have said the same thing about Leftists who harshly attacked President George W. Bush for 8 years? Would Tavis have scolded Leftists who accused Bush of lying to get us into war, attacked his tax policies, and longed for Al Gore as President? No, because when Bush was President, we heard Leftists claim endlessly that "dissent is patriotic." Democrats held onto that position as recently as 14 months ago. Then Obama was elected and now hypocrites like Tavis demand we all fall into line behind our exalted leader. How times change when it is politically convenient.

To be fair, there were plenty of Republicans (including one of my heroes, Rush Limbaugh) who equated dissent with the Bush Administration's policies - especially opposition to the war in Iraq - with a lack of patriotism or even providing aid and comfort to the enemy. Those Republicans were as wrong then as Democrats are now when they wrap themselves in the flag and pretend that partisanship is the same as patriotism. When you demonize dissent as unpatriotic, you lay the foundation for the other side to turn the tables on you when they are in power.

I do not believe in "my country, right or wrong" and I certainly do not believe in "my government, right or wrong." If any elected official at any level of government proposes policies that I believe are ineffective, counterproductive or destructive to my nation, state or city then I will oppose those policies and criticize that elected official.

I attacked President Bush on many occasions throughout his Presidency. Less than a month after Evan Bayh was voting for the so-called "Patriot Act" and Baron Hill did not even vote on arguably the most significant anti-terrorism law in American history, I wrote a letter to the editor opposing the "Patriot Act." Less than two years later, I joined with the Bloomington Bill of Rights defense Committee to lobby the City Council to pass a resolution against the "Patriot Act."

Dissent was not unpatriotic when George W. Bush was President and it is most certainly not unpatriotic now that Barack Obama is President. By intentionally confusing partisanship with patriotism, Leftists sully the American flag and demean true patriotism. They should be ashamed of themselves.