Today is President's Day, and we honor one of the best and worst presidents in our history (I'll let you decide which one is which). Presidents often use this day to talk about the privilege of being in the office, educators use this day to teach factoids to students, government employees celebrate a day off, and retail stores across America are advertising "once in a lifetime deals" that will likely come around again during the next three day weekend.
I'm not going to do give you a superficial, feel-good editorial today on how the American experiment is alive and well thanks to our presidents. Instead, I'm going to take the opportunity to show how party loyalty has destroyed patriotism and empowered the executive branch to be a de facto tyrant.
What is a political party?
Human beings are interesting. We tend to want be a part of a group. We gravitate towards those with whom we share things in common and politics is no different. Political parties are supposed to serve as a catch all for people with specific opinions about politics and governance. And in theory, they serve their purpose well, right? The liberals gravitate to the Democratic Party and the conservatives gravitate to the Republican Party, right?
A Gallup poll taken in January 2012 revealed that of registered voters, 31% were Democrats, 27% were Republicans and a whopping 40% were registered Independent. Yet we still want to label people as "left" or "right" even though it's not so cut and dry. The Independent vote has been steadily growing while the base of both parties shrink. If the Democrats and Republicans had to depend solely on their base to get them elected, then neither side would ever win.
Why are people leaving both parties?
Do you know what it is you believe in? Do you know why you believe in it? Do you believe that marriage is right or that it's the duty of the Christian to war with Islam? Could you explain the philosophical reason for your political positions? Or do you just believe these things because your party's platform affirms them (either implicitly or explicitly)?
Party platforms are supposed to give a broad definition of the philosophy of governance a particular group of people ascribe to, but they've really turned into manifestos dictating what you should believe if you want to be a member. The Democrats essentially say, "all are welcome to join and we will change you to be like us," while the Republicans say, "you are not welcome unless you are already exactly like us."
Human beings are first and foremost individuals, and they do find comfort in finding people who think like them, but mankind doesn't evolve because everyone agrees with one another. Mankind has evolved because we've disagreed with one another and as individuals we are naturally inclined to disagree. The 40% of registered voters in America who identify themselves as Independent are leaving in droves because they disagree with two-party system.
What do independents disagree with?
I would probably have to write a book to explain all the disagreements that we have, but I think I can sum up the problem that independent voters have with the two-party system with the statement, "I support my President 100%!"
Being one of those independent voters, I can tell you that this statement grates on me and it doesn't matter who is saying it. Republicans tend to get upset when they hear Obama supporters say it, and Democrats get upset when they heard Republicans say it of Bush, but they don't get upset with each other ... in fact, it's almost an unspoken rule that if you're a member of a party, whether it's one of the two major parties or your local TEA Party, if you don't support your President 100%, then you are decidedly unpatriotic and therefore an enemy!
It is this statement that has single-handedly led to the failure of the American Experiment. This is the statement that keeps Democrats from questioning the NDAA and Obama's kill list and is also the statement that keeps Republicans from questioning the GOP's abuse of the Constitution with the Patriot Act, unending/undeclared wars, and economic bailouts for big business.
This is also the statement that has stifled the TEA Party and allowed them to be absorbed by the Republican party. Local TEA Party organizations are certainly independent of any national movement, but if the majority of the people on local boards say "I support my [board] President 100%!" then you can pretty much guarantee that independent-minded people who question everything, are not welcome.
How has this created de facto tyrants?
When a person pledges unwavering loyalty to a person or a party, they leave no room for disagreement. Tyrants despise disagreement and love people who pledge 100% of their loyalty to a person, party, or government. When this is done, there is no room for calling out a president who works in secrecy, bends bylaws, or openly violates the constitution - the law. There is no room for dissent. There is no room for the person, party, or government to evolve towards liberty. Instead, the only thing that can happen is for things to devolve. People stop thinking for themselves, parties forget their foundational principles, governments become oppressive and presidents become tyrants.
When you pledge your loyalty to your president, you are essentially saying that that person is infallible and can do no wrong. It may be couched in terms of, "well, the bylaws are so strict and sometimes it's hard to get things done," or "that's a tough job, I can't imagine how anyone can deal with that stress, so I'm not going to question him - I'm sure that it was a tough decision."
If you stop questioning, if you stop disagreeing, if you stop standing on principle, if you can't remember why you believe what you do, then you have lost the essence of Americanism. You have forgotten what it means to be free. You have lost sight of what patriotism actually is.
What is patriotism?
Do you bleed red, white and blue? Do you love icons like the American Bald Eagle, the Statue of Liberty, or the stars and stripes? Do you proudly say the pledge of allegiance? This is patriotism, right?
Not according the founders. Thomas Jefferson said that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism." And why not? Was it the phrase, "I support my King 100%!" that led to liberty in America? Was it complying with the edicts set forth by King George that created the Declaration of Independence? Was it agreeing with everything James Madison wrote that led to 39 delegates of the Philadelphia Convention to sign the US Constitution? Hardly! Dissent is what this nation is founded on, not party loyalty.
Patriotism is not pledging 100% of your loyalty to a person, place, thing or idea. Patriotism is not wearing icons or bleeding red, white, and blue. Patriotism is being leery of those in power; questioning what they do and calling them to the carpet when they are wrong. Patriotism is questioning everything and understanding that power corrupts every single human being on the planet including the board of the local activist organization that you serve on. Patriotism is electing a person to hold an office, and then holding their feet to the fire to ensure they don't abuse that power.
Have you left the two-party system? Do you serve on the board of local activist organization like the TEA Party? Do you hold your president accountable, or do you "support him 100%?" If you live in Rio Rancho, do see how partisan politics have negatively effected our municipal government? Comment below and share this article.
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Kerry works to provide a refreshing alternative to the mainstream news sources in Rio Rancho and beyond. Don’t miss future news and editorials by subscribing to Kerry’s articles. As the Albuquerque Government Examiner, Kerry reports on all levels of government that affect Rio Rancho and New Mexico.
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