Patriotic Rivals

I really enjoyed Lyall pointing out the Op-Ed articles on patriotism from McCain and Obama yesterday. I think he was quite right to point out a major flaw in McCain’s statement that patriotism should come “before anything” but I don’t agree that without that flaw the editorial would have been perfect.

I really liked McCain’s reference to the patriotic rivalry of Adams and Jefferson. Though the stature of the rivals is not nearly so great, I consider the contest between McCain and Obama, like most presidential rivals, to be a contest between real patriots. These men almost universally have a great love for their country depite any individual flaws. McCain asks a very good question about our current American spirit of patriotism:

Would they (Adams and Jefferson) find that love of country was just as strong in the hearts of today’s Americans?

Unlike McCain I do not believe they would find our current love of country to be as strong among the nation as a whole. We certainly have patriots today – probably numerically more than in the 18th century – but overall and as a percentage of the population I think that they would find our patriotism to be comparatively lacking. The evidence is in the smallness of most of our individual thinking and in the bitter emptiness of most of our political dialog.

At one time I believed that Obama had the potential to be another Adams or Jefferson, but despite his gift for rhetoric he has been showing himself to be a modern politician, speaking of principles but standing on political expediency. Once again Obama demonstrates his ability to articulate truths which are hard to describe and even harder to implement:

. . . each generation must understand that the blessings of freedom require our constant vigilance, and that true patriotism also means a willingness to sacrifice . . . the liberty we defend {is} the liberty of each of us to follow our dreams. . . . the equality we seek {is} not an equality of results but the chance of every single one of us to make it if we try. (emphasis added)

Obama’s editorial was closer to perfect than McCains, but his actions are no closer to perfectly implementing those high ideals than McCain’s are.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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