Liberal authors make good, bad points in bid to reclaim patriotism - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Liberal authors make good, bad points in bid to reclaim patriotism

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Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2008 9:56 pm | Updated: 10:52 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Surprisingly, the marathon is holding the attention of Americans. I guessed wrong — thought we’d tune out the presidential campaign by now. On the contrary, the race seems to be a magnet.

It’s instructive to watch restless citizens on the verge of initiating a massive shift, but I’m cynical. Corruption owns Washington. The nation is fractured. How does one little ole’ president fix and mend?

While awaiting a flight recently, I perused a magazine rack with no appetite for even one more headline on Britney. On cue, a bright red book stared me down: “The True Patriot.” Stifling a yawn, I wondered who could cast new light on this seemingly passé subject. Turns out, they would be liberal Seattle authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer.

In a quick glance, they hooked me with: “We freely admit that conservatives have been correct about certain ideas.” So, I bit, paid the $10.95 and took the journey into their heads where they justifiably claim patriotism for all Americans.

The two Democrats, who describe themselves as “progressives,” explain why patriotism is the “template” for their belief system: “The first reason is visceral; we simply love this country,” they write. Who can’t relate? When people “love” the same thing, we should have a better chance at finding common ground, but it’s not happening.

Rather than lob cannon balls at the fine mess we’re in, the two set out to find solutions, then ignite a national dialogue. They won me over on that count, too. They start right at the core, with morality: “We believe all politics is fundamentally about morality: What rules do we need to live a good life together?” They’re careful to define they’re talking about civil morality — everything outside of the bedroom.

They instruct progressives to “speak in moral terms.” They explain: “In order to lead with a true mandate, and to earn enduring and affirmative public trust, progressives have to articulate a coherent moral framework — within which policy positions fit.” In other words, they wish to claim verbiage that commonly comes from the right: “Patriotism and morality.” But, alas, now we deal with semantics; the trap door.

“Ultimately, we seek the revival of a civil religion,” they explain. And clarify: We don’t need “new politics,” we just need to “reconnect with original patriotic traditions.”

In reading their heartfelt plea for a reconnection, my own heart began to race. Just in time to spot that their plan for moral equity would naturally turn more power over to government to further force the redistribution of wealth. Force is the operative word. It’s liberal dogma wrapped in conservative language.

Government does have a role, and so does the market place. And, that seems to be where the yin and yang fight it out. We can agree that moral, patriotic citizens want equal comfort and promise for every person, but, again, the issue is and has always been the execution of the plan.

The authors list 10 principles to help restore values and national credibility. Some are great, others less so. They insist the U.S. isn’t doing enough for its own or the world, but has there ever been a nation which offers more? We’re a work in progress, and gladly they’re engaged.

As for patriotism: We share custody of that tattered child. However, to use it as a tool to advance a political ideology takes more than reclaimed language. I doubt Liu and Hanauer will succeed in selling their patriotism to those who smell blood in the frenzy of election year. And, no matter who wins control, what makes them think that the corruption which permeates D.C. won’t just be a different face that takes us down the same, very merry lane to demise?

Patriotism’s a great tenet, an important one, but it’s not a fix-all. It’s a result, not a starting place. It includes love not just for a nation, but for each other. The authors know this. They are correct to return to the roots of our greatness, but they are leaving out some very important issues concerning God and soul values, beacons to a large part of our populous; thus, the great divider remains.

Despite my disagreement with their politics, I applaud their offering. I honor its intent to unify. But, it won’t happen; a very sad commentary.

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