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.