Democrats get away with these kind of ad hominem attacks without any hyperventilating media reaction for obvious reasons. Many editorial boards use comparable rhetoric. So do columnists in almost every major paper. Paul Krugman, who writes for the most revered newspaper of the educated liberal, regularly alleges that free-market advocates are hoping to institute disorder. Does the average liberal believe a major political party that represents around half of American voters is maliciously working to destabilize the United States and rooting for us to fail abroad?
No doubt, there are some beltway types cynically using this formulation because it’s an effective weapon, even though they know full well that Republicans have the same motivations as Democrats do — winning elections. And no doubt the GOP isn’t innocent in this regard, either.
Part of the problem is that we no longer truly have common definition for patriotism. Maybe we never did. What’s an American ideal these days? Immigration. Diversity. Equality. Diplomacy. Whatever the topic of the day, the left’s position is exactly what makes this nation great. When Obama speaks about our long-held principles, I don’t recognize them. If I were to accept his Osawatomie, Kansas speech, probably the president’s most potent attempt at retroactively integrating the progressive ideal into the broader American cause, I’d probably believe free-market conservatives were a Fifth Column, too.
So partisans convince themselves that anyone who confronts their president, or their future president, is engaged in acts of subversion. When you make no distinction between your ideology and your patriotism, what else can we expect? When engaging in politics is tantamount to patriotism, when the state is solution to all our problems, anyone who obstructs the consecrated agenda must look like an enemy of decency.
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