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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Patriotism! What Happens After the 4th of July?

Today in history lesson: This is the 236th anniversary of the day after the signing of the American Declaration of Independence. It's when the original signers in Philadelphia really celebrated their extraordinary achievement.  They were new Patriots of their time!

In today's reality, following patriotic celebrations on July 4th, led by the extraordinary brilliance of the fireworks show over Washington DC,  American revelers are now switching ships.  Political junkies are battening down their political hatches.  Patriotism is over. We're now embarking on a season of hyper-partisanship, launching a relentlessly negative political campaign season leading up to November's elections

Pundits are looking for nuances from candidates, real or imagined, to fill media time, while partisans idealize every issue favorable to their preferred candidates. 

Now Hear This! Patriotism is departing! Partisans Ahoy!

Although there's nothing new about the intensity of political campaigning, what's worrisome is how Patriotism has become more like a truce we declare on a few occasions, like during Fourth of July celebrations or during American Thanksgiving.  Outside of these special annual events, even some elected politicians, those supposed to be doing the public service of the people, continue to be hyper-partisans. 

Tea Party Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is a perfect example, because she's elected to serve all the people in the 6th District of Minnesota.  Nonetheless, her paycheck must not include a time sheet. How does she have time to do her day job while appearing to campaign for political offices outside her job responsibilities? She's apparently running for the Vice-Presidential nod with Romney's campaign or some other official position if he's elected. She's obviously intent on figuring out how she can become the first woman President of the United States. Sorry Ms. Bachmann, but your ambition shows under your Patriotism!

Like retiring Senator Olympia Snowe said, there's a time for campaigning and a time for governing.

What's drove Senator Snowe out of the Senate, after decades of public service, was the relentless partisanship extending beyond campaigning.  

There was a rare moment in history when hyper-partisanship stopped. Do you remember?  It was on September 11, 2001, when President George Bush received instant overwhelming support from our nation during the post terrorist attacks.  But, Bush blew it shortly thereafter, using the public's good will as a political mandate "shield" to invade Iraq, while the Al Qaeda enemies that perpetrated the attacks were hiding in Afghanistan.  Although elected to serve all the people in America, Bush acted in his own interest by invading a nation he felt compelled to invade, following the unfinished business of his father's administration.  This act of war wasn't motivated by Patriotism, but by revenge.  Those who fought and died in Iraq wanted to defeat Al Qaeda, but Iraq's now dead dictator Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the terrorist group.

What happened to Patriotism after the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington DC?  It morphed into a hyper-partisan debate about whether or not the War in Iraq was justified, especially since it wasn't even paid for with any sacrifices at all while the funding for it was hidden from the nation's budget.

Post July 4th celebrations, our nation is again polarized by a political debate rooted in lies rather than facts.  For example, check Congresswoman Bachmann's website. She leads readers into lies about how President Obama's Health Care Reform is a tax on "everyday Americans".  What does this mean?  Aren't all Americans really "Americans" every day, all the time? Check this outrageous statement for yourself (if it's still there)  Congresswoman Bachmann is elected to represent all 6th district Minnesotans, regardless if they're every day Americans or once a day Americans. She's even elected to represent poor and rich Americans, too. 

Even worse, the lie she posts about the Health Care Reform being a tax on "every day" Americans is paid for by US taxpayers who pay her salary.  The tax is, in fact, a penalty that will be levied in 2014, on only those people who use the health care system without having insurance to pay for their care.  In other words, it's a tax on those who remain uninsured because they know health care will be there for them regardless of whether or not they pay for it, called "free loaders".  In Medicaid terminology, it's called fraud and those found doing it are penalized with criminal action.  When people who can afford to buy health insurance, but won't, yet milk the system, it's called "free loading", and they currently get away with it. 

So, with post July 4th Patriotism now on the shelf, the political hyper-partisanship season is upon us. While stranded in a sea of political hyperbole and rhetoric, we must endure the storms ahead.  

But, remembering President Obama's 2004 speech, we should remember how our partisan differences are not lifetime labels.  We're not Red States or Blue States but the United States.

Patriotism is not just a July 4th truce on politics.  It's a responsibility for all elected officials.



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