July 3, 2008

Election 2008: "What Patriotism Means To Me"

flag 2008.jpg

Parade Magazine asks the Best Of Us What Is Patriotism? and they answer:

McCain: Putting The Country First
Obama: Faith In One Another As Americans

As neutrally as possible, I look at the differences between the answers.

The differences in the essays can be summarized by the differences in the use of personal pronouns:

I/me/my:  McCain 3  Obama: 25

McCain makes appeals to abstract notions and higher concepts, and subordinates the individual to the greater.  Obama places at the top the society of individuals and grounds abstract notions to their immediate and real world analogs.

McCain goes for the abstract

Patriotism is ... putting the country first, before party or personal ambition, before anything. It is the willing acceptance of Americans...to try to make a nation in which all people share in the promise and responsibilities of freedom.

Obama's goes for the personal and the interpersonal, and grounds abstractions in an individual reality:

...patriotism in my mind--not just a love of America in the abstract, but a very particular love for, and faith in, one another as Americans.

...we have the unparalleled freedom to pursue our dreams.

......That is the liberty we defend--the liberty of each of us to follow our dreams.

McCain places the individual at the service of the higher, intangible:

To love one's country is to love one's countrymen.

Obama emphasizes the country is the sum total of the people who made it, and its purpose is to serve those people; abstractions are grounded in reality:

The greatness of our country--its victories in war, its enormous wealth, its scientific and cultural achievements--have resulted from the toil, drive, struggle, restlessness, humor, and quiet heroism of the American people.  

McCain makes the reference point a higher, intangible purpose or good, while Obama repeatedly reinforces that the country is the people:

McCain: ...blessed that so many (soldiers) have so often believed in a cause far greater than self-interest, far greater than ourselves

Obama: ...a willingness to sacrifice for our common good.

McCain asks what will come:


...if we are to be genuine patriots, we must remember also that we are patriots because we love the countrymen we will never know, who will be born after we are gone.

Obama asks what got us here and what it means now:

We can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. We can say and write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. We can have an idea and start our own businesses without paying a bribe. In America, anything is possible.

I know that stories like mine can happen only in the United States of America. 

And, of course, McCain makes explicit that government is supposed to be limited:

where... a love of liberty and self-reliance still check the excesses of both government and man.

...In return, the gift we can give back to our country is a patriotism that requires us to be good citizens in public office or in the community spaces where government is absent.

While Obama makes no distinction between the government or its people:

Those who have signed up to fight for our country in distant lands inspire me, just as I am inspired by those fighting for a better America here at home by teaching in underserved schools, caring for the sick in understaffed hospitals, or promoting more sustainable energy policies in their communities.

...That is the community we strive to build...

It is often said that this election (or recent elections in general) are not really about ideas, but it seems that this election is nothing else but an ideas battle.  In many ways they want the same thing, but they differ in the presentation: "energy independence" vs. "sustainable energy policy"; "make sacrifices" vs. "pay their fair share;" etc.  That's important because the "why" of a policy, even when the policy is the same, defines our "common good" and influences future policies.


It is my wish that all pers... (Below threshold)

July 6, 2008 8:32 AM | Posted by Diane Abus: | Reply

It is my wish that all persons would realize language in as encompassing a way as you do demonstrateably look carefully at the person who is talking ,the verbiage is always secondary in my opinion .the person can lack congruence.I think its built in to the mental faculty but gets lost in ego or for that matter ,intellectualism carried too! far. this seems to me to be intuitive.By being aware of language and ITS structures one can free oneself.As a Canagian not an American I view alot of the political discourse with dread.it's nice to see this close scrutiny of "our america"Best to you on the 4th.coolbit of writing

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Obama is a piece of nigger ... (Below threshold)

July 7, 2008 8:07 AM | Posted by Whitey: | Reply

Obama is a piece of nigger shit.

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Interestingly enough, this ... (Below threshold)

July 9, 2008 10:56 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Interestingly enough, this does line up with the stereotypical views of their parties, however, one does wonder just how much is deliberate or unintentional and how much is the "party line".

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Haotie, thank landlord to s... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2010 3:33 AM | Posted by down jackets: | Reply

Haotie, thank landlord to share with you, I represent the people, on behalf of God, Thank you for your generosity! Knowledge gives weight, gives glory to achievement, most people only see the glory, not to weigh the weight!Posted to recommend a very good oh! www.moncler-jackets-outlet.com

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Giant Douche or Shit Sandwi... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2010 1:17 PM | Posted by Andrew T Ator: | Reply

Giant Douche or Shit Sandwich?

Why not both?

Is the American Public so retarded that they have no idea what they're actually voting for? No. It is not the fourth estate's responsibility to report and check government, it is the fourth estate's responsibility to educate the public - like the adults they are - as to the fundamental "why" behind every governmental decision. The American Public is not unintelligent, and if they are it's due to decades upon decades of keeping them on a steady diet of ignorance.

To the 9/11 Truthers, have you ever stopped to consider that we got lucky the attack ever happened in the first place so that we could sell a war to the public that was not only necessary to the common decency of man to bring our human brethren out of the last remaining stone age on the planet? Have you ever stopped to consider that, maybe, just maybe, war is a frightful necessity and that the greater good of killing those that would subjugate a nation into drug trafficking, the easy path to living a life, and call this trade the work of Allah, God, whatever they happen to call their deity, is itself the root of all evil? Have you ever stopped to consider the fact that conspiracies are only theories until their necessity transforms them into realities for reasons logically constructed?

By God, I cannot fathom just how swiftly the Twin Coasts must have shit themselves as soon as it was announced that gold and other vast mineral deposits exist in Afghanistan. Of course they exist in Afghanistan, it's the last bastion of tribalism in the world where any kind of job requiring vast amounts of education is not only unknown to the general population, but frowned upon because of the strain of religion that attempts to infectiously control the land: Islamo-Facism.

This is not to say that Jeudao-Christiano-Facism is any better, by any stretch of the imagination, just that our brand of Jesus is currently stripping away their brand of Mohamed. Does anyone have any idea why Comedy Central censored the images of the holy prophet of war on South Park? The next time you step up and yell about censorship, consider that you're doing exactly what they intended all along. Consider that there are more Muslims, not saying it's a bad thing, than there are Christians, not saying it's a good thing, and inciting a revolution of narcissistic patriotism was their only hope.

There was a SEAL that commanded the base where my Sea Cadet unit met for trainings back in my youth that handed over command just before, the week before, the attacks of 9/11. I doubt he knew exactly what was going on, but in war and chess knights don't ask questions, they just skip around and win. The Twin Coasts and the liberal peace-monkeys have NO CLUE what they are talking about when they say "no blood for oil." You're welcome for the fuel to power your luxury sedan, and you owe each and every service member a blow job.

"But wait, no Jews were killed in the attacks on 9/11" the Muslims will say. "Are you sure," you should respond. "Yes," they will say. "Then prove it to me," you must reply.

"The evidence for the attack is in the hands of the government," the truthers will say. "Better in their hands than yours. Get a job or start your own company," the realists will reply.

"My family, my whole life, my innocence was lost in that attack," the depressed will say. "They were patriots. Every last one of them. How can we repay you," is the only proper response.

That a war needed to be sold to the American Public in the first place is nothing more than a testament to the incompetence the government assumes of its constituents, and if the Peter Principle tells us anything, it's that there's more of us, citizens and civilians, to be governed than exists in government to incompetently monitor. Quick question, anyone here ever said the words, "kill the president"? Yes? I wonder how incompetent the government is...

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Um, you sound like a crazy ... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2010 1:33 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrew T Ator's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Um, you sound like a crazy person. You should seek therapy. How could you possibly say that war is "good"? That's like saying killing kittens is not morally reprehensible. What kind of sick man are you?

Next you're going to tell me that Canada beat you in a war earlier in your nation's history. Oops, you're retarded.

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You, sir, disgust me on a l... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2010 1:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrew T Ator's comment, by Surrender-Monkey: | Reply

You, sir, disgust me on a level I have never thought possible.

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"Nice move."Have y... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2010 1:52 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrew T Ator's comment, by [...]: | Reply

"Nice move."

Have you forgotten already? Obama advises to be very careful about what you put on your Facebook profile because you never know who is going to take things in whatever way they wish to interpret the experience of consuming social media.

I think you should carefully reconsider your words. "Blow job" is not something elected officials say. "Blow job" is something irreverent youths refer to as what fellatio actually is. Did the Kenneth Star hearings and The Death Of Outrage teach you nothing? Have you no shame, sir? Have you no shame?

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Dude, shut up. There is NE... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2010 2:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrew T Ator's comment, by Andrew: | Reply

Dude, shut up. There is NEVER a reason to advocate any kind of assassination, political or otherwise. Sit down, shut up, and start THINKING for a change.

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Fair enough. But nowhere d... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2010 2:20 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrew's comment, by Andrew T Ator: | Reply

Fair enough. But nowhere did I advocate that. No. Where. If anything I'm advocating the incredible competency of the government, and just trying to get other people to understand just how competent it is, that our processes work, and this actually is the greatest nation in the world.

The proof is in how crazy we allow ourselves to become just to stand up for a government we believe in, but don't necessarily trust. I trust the government. You should, too. They bend over backwards to ensure that our liberties stay just that, liberal.

I'm not saying one philosophy is right or wrong, but that the middle ground exists because most people are actually quite moderate.

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Mind your words, for in a w... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2010 2:26 PM | Posted, in reply to Andrew T Ator's comment, by Yoda: | Reply

Mind your words, for in a war of them, their force is the only thing separating you between the factions you claim to serve and the belief that you serve them.

Go now. Unclutter your mind. Head doctor's orders.

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