Saturday, June 4, 2011

Viral Patriot

Going Viral.

Sarah Palin continues to astound and attract media attention for saying stupid things. This time she forgot that Paul Revere—well she basically forgot everything (if she ever learned it in the first place). Go ahead, look it up. I'm sure it will get plenty of play. People love a high profile slip-up. I don't really want to bad mouth Sarah too much. She is a person after all, and she does deserve some amount of respect.

What I can't figure out is how she blatantly speaks without thinking. I appreciate her “off the cuff” style, but this world is full of nuance that she not only seems to ignore, but gets completely wrong as well. While it may not be required to know what side Revere was on in the American Revolution in order to be elected to high office, I seriously question what patriotism means to someone who cannot identify the achievements of one of the country's greatest patriots. Patriotism is not just a household word you can throw around to disguise an argument. It means something.

I feel that the term has been co-opted to hide from legitimate debate on serious subjects. Just as invoking Hitler into argument clearly leads us astray from valuable discourse. As an American citizen, born and raised in the most powerful nation in the world, I feel it is my duty to live up to certain standards of conduct.

I must have a public consciousness. I must be informed as to our founding documents and their underlying philosophy. I must vote freely, and make my decisions based on an array of criteria, not a single issue that can be boiled down to “hope” or “4 more years”. There is no substance in voting for a slogan. We are the American people, we are known for our cunning, independent thought and action, bravery, and even-handedness. At least I would hope we are.

Jefferson argued for the yeoman farmer because he believed that the farmer could vote in an informed and conscious manner, despite the farmer's education. We now have a far higher level of education, yet we have somehow neglected our public duties. We can tweet all about Sarah's blunders, but we do not know the third amendment to the constitution. The government is not obligated to give us an education, but it does. And we tend to reject it as big government. The truth is that the government will have to exist in some form, to continue our current structures. Our public consciousness cannot rest on the size of the government or who is in power. Rather there should be a social awareness, where we freely discuss the ramifications of our words and actions. And that social sphere can remain independent of our government, the free and critical exchange of ideas makes this nation run. If 2 heads are better than 1, 310 million must surely have some value.

President has few qualifications, but being a patriot of this nation requires more than a catch-phrase. It requires the drive to understand our past, understand our current issues, and to look to the future as a way to make everything better, even if just a tiny bit.