Kevin C Shinn

Kevin C Shinn

Thursday, September 6, 2012

American Patriotism

For many, patriotism means reciting the pledge of allegiance, taking your hat off your head and placing your right hand over your heart during the national anthem. I see and hear passionate views on the 2nd Amendment and on the separation of church and state and over our taxes being too high. I listen to zealous explanations as to why it is more important to regulate a womb than to feed a child. But our Founding Fathers did not suffer and risk all to produce a form of government in which our citizens could sit on their ever expanding butts enjoying the fruits of our liberty while stuffing their faces as they mindlessly flipped through the soul-sucking cable universe. This year's election, more than any in my memory, offers two distinctly different visions of the future.

The form of government under which we exist was created to be administered by an educated electorate and yet we are increasingly being bombarded by the visions of political extremes because they are the ones who are most passionate about articulating their points of view. My favorite Founder, Ben Franklin, once said, "In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech... Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man..." It is the most precious of rights and yet in the nation which has been the political ideal of freedom, it is a right which is so infrequently used that our future liberty is in peril of atrophying and disappearing without so much as a final battle to defend it recorded for the sake of our posterity.

What separates us from the rest of the world isn't our standard of living or our love of the free market. It isn't our endless array of mind-numbing entertainment options or our obscene, obesity producing food bars. What distinguishes us from the rest of the planet is the system of government that our Founding Fathers produced for us and generations have fine-tuned to allow even those individuals of the most humble origins to have a voice in the way they are governed and to enable those from the most modest beginnings to become President of the United States. Mitt Romney and the Republicans tell us everyday how bad that government is and the President reminds us every day how important it is to a free people. The differences between the two parties couldn't be wider. The Republicans have vowed to dismantle the federal government while the Democrats promise to protect it so that it continues to serve the needs of the Common Man. I obviously am a Democrat and believe passionately in our vision of government but I respect those on the other side who so ardently disagree with us. Unfortunately, too many of our people sit uninformed in the middle hoping the election will soon be over so they won't have to be bothered by the distraction of the campaign anymore. Representative democracy is such a burden to them that they proudly boast of their ignorance and wear their stupidity as a badge of honor. So don't tell us you're a Patriot and love our country if you don't take the time to get off your pompous ass, examine the issues facing our future, and go cast an informed vote.

Whose Dream Will Win

Ryan is obviously a fan of the Hunger Games, not the movie but the way of life. What Ryan did with his speech before the GOP Convention delegates was to frame the legitimate debate for this election. The question is this, “While rebounding our economy from the second worst financial crisis in our nation’s history, should this nation provide social programs to help those in need or not?” As Ryan repeatedly pointed out, the Republicans say no and the Democrats say yes. That is true and everything else should be about determining that answer. Romney/Ryan believe that we can improve the economy by continuing to grow the size of our military, cut taxes further for the rich, and eliminating all social programs at the federal level.

Obviously, I disagree. Growing up in a very poor part of the country, I recognize how destructive it would be for the people in Madison County and other areas if we were to eliminate the social safety net. The United States is the most powerful nation in the world and I believe there is no excuse for the levels of poverty in this nation. Without child nutrition programs are we really willing to tolerate millions of hungry children in our nation? Without low-income housing are we really ready to live with millions of homeless families living in abandoned cars and under bridges? Without Medicaid are we willing to allow millions of our handicapped and poor neighbor’s to live in misery for the lack of money to buy antibiotics or to visit a doctor? Without the minimum wage laws are we willing to watch millions of our most vulnerable neighbor’s work long, tough days and nights for a $1 an hour still unable to afford the American Dream? At a time when the job market is demanding the most educated workforce in our history are we really willing as a people to stand by as the doors to a better life are slammed in the faces of millions of our children because we won’t provide them with financial aid to go to college?

This election places the very question of what is the American Dream on the ballot. We either hold the course as we rebuild our economy and continue to protect those most vulnerable in our society through the use of humane social programs or we take a hard Right turn and eliminate those programs as the Republicans have vowed to do and force the next generation of Americans to live through a life of broken dreams and economic despair while the distant lights on yachts and in penthouses daily taunt the daydreams of our children and grandchildren. Somewhere in China and India will be families huddled around their TV sets as Buddhist and Hindu missionaries walk through the streets of America surrounded by throngs of dirty, hungry, forlorn children as an announcer tells their audience that for just the price of a cup of coffee a day, they could save the life of some poor American child. I’m curious whose dream will win come November.