Monday, July 30, 2012

Picking Apart the Romney Worldview

This weekend, Governor Mitt Romney touched down in Israel as the second leg of his three-nation jaunt to build up his foreign policy credibility. There he will hope to salvage what is left of this tour after his ill-spoken comments on preparations for the Olympics in its host city of London and also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In many ways, Governor Romney has the luxury of not needing to discuss his foreign policy worldview. However, when the rhetoric is examined, it is apparent the Governor's Foreign Policy Worldview is not leadership for the 21st Century but rather is stuck in the 20th Century.

One of Governor Romney's closer advisers on foreign affairs is Robert Kagan, a preeminent neoconservative historian who in March, published an article with the headline saying "America has Made the World Safer, Freer, and Wealthier." In the article's conclusion, Kagan expounds that "If and when American power declines, the institutions and norms American power has supported will decline, too." To Kagan, America is always seen as a force that supports free democracies, elections and capitalism. In turn, America must continue to have the role of global imposer of its will.

However, Kagan's logic can at times be deeply flawed. While it is true that the United States did play a large role in World War II and the success of the post-war recovery as well as supporting free elections, there were also instances where it compromised its democratic values in the name of containing the Soviet Union, as was the case with supporting Contras in Nicaragua; the deposing of a Democratically-elected Prime Minister in Iran for a Shah-which caused the breeding ground for the Iranian revolution in 1979-and the assistance in the overthrowing of Salvador Allende in Chile. The United States would continue this practice after the Cold War with its support for the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, and continued to support Hosni Mubarak until the final part of the February 2011 uprisings in Egypt.

This is not to say that the United States is necessarily an evil force either and to force between saying one or the other is a false dichotomy. However, what it does say is that the United States' foreign policy is oftentimes directed in what is in its national interest. Sometimes, this does lead to good results, as was the case with support for anti-communist forces, but the idea of America as some global enforcer of pure democratic intentions could not be further from the truth. It is that mindset that provided the intellectual impetus for neoconservative ventures like the War in Iraq.

This mode of thinking is clear in Governor Romney's approach to discussing civilization. In a speech to the Citadel last October, Governor Romney spoke of the need to create "a New American Century," quoting an essay by Henry Luce. The analogy is fitting given Romney's remarks that he is a "classic baby boomer" and therefore remembers the era where America was locked in a clash of the benevolent force that was the United States and the evil empire of the Soviet Union. In addition, he was born just two years after the United States had assumed the mantle of World Leader after the fall of Nazi Germany. In turn, to the Governor, the world is constantly pitted in a battle of good versus evil, with the United States force always being benevolent and any force questioning it questions the nature of America.

This zero-sum view is further augmented by Governor Romney's belief that the Constitution is "divinely inspired." By elevating the Constitution from a legal document created by intelligent but fallible men which contains, what Franklin called, "all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views," but still managed to be a wonderful document to being a divinely inspired religious text, it decreases the humility of American force and its ability to negotiate in diplomatic engagement with its enemies. For if someone's founding was ordained by God, then then any compromise of its nature. Hence, when he goes around saying that America should not apologize, it is not the typical conservative chest thumping seen by other conservatives but rather moral outrage because how can one question a country with a divinely inspired document?

In turn, Governor Romney's hawkish views have been on display in subtle hints. He called America and Israel the "true peacemakers" in regards to a military strike against Iran.  He has said famously that Russia is America's "number one geopolitical foe." It is also apparent when Governor Romney said that if President Obama had implemented the Bush Freedom Agenda, there would not have been an Arab Spring.

The problem with this worldview however, is that it is out of touch with what has really occurred since the end of the Cold War. Mubarak didn't fail to do democratic reforms because of the failure to enact the Freedom Agenda; in fact if the agenda had worked, then Mubarak would have left earlier. Yet the United States continued to financially support Mubarak even during this so-called "Freedom Agenda." Russia may stall action on Syria and in other areas but they do not have the military firepower to pose a serious threat and is in the middle of its own political upheaval. In addition, Romney's bullishness on a war with Iran is similar to Netanyahu's; it flies in the face of warnings of calamity by both Israeli and American security experts. In turn, it could be said that the Governor's foreign policy is little more than a cut and paste of previous foreign policy mores and could potentially lead to over-extension of military and diplomatic force.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mental Breather for the Weekend

This weekend the blog will be off. I had finals this week and my brain is fried. This week will be a time for restoration, reading, reflecting and loved ones. I will be back next week.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Is the American Right fed up with the Tea Party?

It's been a year since the debate over whether or not to raise the debt ceiling and whether or not it should also include spending cuts. The debate in many ways manifested what people thought about Congress assumed but was not confirmed. In turn, approval of Congress approval rating nosedived, to the point where it had a 9% approval rating. In turn, there has been a sense of how the country's politics got so polarized, particularly on the right and the rise of prominent conservative activists who have pushed for strident adherence to principle. Yet while most outside of the American Right Wing have been quick to point out the radicalization of the Republican Party and their marriage to the Tea Party, it appears that many in the Republican Party are having a case of buyer's remorse after making such a bargain.

Case in point, in the primary election, Tea Party Favorites Rep. Michele Bachmann, Governor Rick Perry and Herman Cain all enjoyed brief spurts of success. All of them were seen as threats to frontrunner Governor Mitt Romney. Yet in the end, all of them dropped out rather early and Congressman Ron Paul, the intellectual godfather of the Tea Party, never got higher than second place in any of the contests he competed in. Ultimately, the party wound up picking the equivalent of the prom third wheel in Governor Romney largely because of the fact that he is a candidate who is not tied to the Tea Party and does not speak with the fervor that his counterparts does. In addition, the candidate who forced Governor Romney to the right, Senator Rick Santorum, was not a Tea Partier but an old-fashioned social/neoconservative.

Similarly, this week, Senator Tom Coburn published an editorial in the New York Times, excoriating Grover Norquist, the zealous head of Americans for Tax Reform, who created the now infamous pledge calling for no increases in taxes. Nobody would ever accuse Coburn of being a tax-and-spend RINO; he recently released a book on deficit reduction, supported the Simpson-Bowles Commission, and famously blocked the Zadroga Bill, which would have provided healthcare to those who responded to 9/11. Rather, Coburn seems to be pushing for an end to the games for the sake of fiscal conservatism, rather than in a mutiny against it. The fact that he is willing to say speak out against the shenanigans of a prominent activist like Norquist shows a possible break in the fever that has emblazoned the Republican Congress.

In addition, it appears the electoral arm of the Republican Party has seen that Tea Party politics may not be the best route to winning elections going forward. Numerous Republican Congressional candidates have said they would not sign Norquist's pledge. Tellingly, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, albeit a fiscal conservative but also a someone who criticizes the war on drugs, will be giving the keynote address at the GOP's convention in August, signaling a possibly different tone for the future of conservatism in America. In addition, it was also revealed that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 Vice Presidential Candidate and Tea Party darling, was not invited to Tampa.

Lastly, it appears that the vitriolic outlandish claims that Tea Party politicians have previously contended have also grown out of fashion. This week, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and four other members of Congress, alleged the State Department was being infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, going as high as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's top aide Huma Abedin. These types of claims are not new to Bachmann, as she is the same woman who in 2008 accused then-Senator Barack Obama of having anti-American views and called for investigations into members of Congress for such sentiments. Similarly, the Tea Party has been alleging President Obama was not born in the United States, and party leadership has either not tried to squelch these claims or have said such half-hearted "I take the President at his word."

Yet with this recent string of accusations, Bachmann has been met with strong backlash. Senator John McCain returned to his maverick roots by giving a speech on the Senate floor defending Abedin, saying “I am proud to know Huma and to call her my friend.” Similarly, Speaker of the House John Boehner, soon followed suit, saying the accusations were "pretty dangerous." Even Bachmann's former campaign manager, Ed Rollins, denounced his former client in an op-editorial on Fox News of all sites.

The GOP is often accused of allowing the furthest wings of the party take over from the grown-ups, as was the case with Senator Joe McCarthy, the 1964 nomination of Barry Goldwater, and with the rise of Newt Gingrich's rancorous tactics during his tenure as Speaker of the House. Yet what is also important to realize in all of those cases was that at one point or another, there were those grown-ups in the party who took a stand to say "enough;" as was the case with Senator Margaret Chase Smith against McCarthy, Governor George Romney refusing to endorse Goldwater's candidacy, and with the the attempted coup against Newt Gingrich and his eventual ouster led mainly by those in his own party after the government shutdown and his own indiscretions. While some of those efforts failed to prevent the party from self-immolation, it should not discourage modern conservatives who care enough about their party enough to break Reagan's 11th commandment and call foul.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Can Religion Co-Exist with Liberal Democracy in the West?

This week, the German Parliament passed a motion to protect religious circumcision of young boys, after a German Court had ruled against circumcision of young boys. The movement was endorsed across party lines and had the backing of Jewish and Muslim religious groups, stating "Jewish and Muslim religious life must continue to be possible in Germany. Circumcision has a central religious significance for Jews and Muslims." Meanwhile German doctors have since testified against male circumcision.

The incident is just the recent in a string of clashes between liberal democratic governments and religious groups. Similarly, Israel's coalition government came tumbling down amidst a divide between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz on the drafting of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs into the Israeli Defense Forces. Meanwhile, America experienced its own crisis in the lines between separation of church and state in the wake of the accessibility of contraception, with the Catholic church crying "war on religion" and many on the left crying "war on women." While there are always difficulties in pushing for liberal democracy and there should be robust debate, the year of 2012's socially political events must make one wonder if liberal democracy is compatible with faith.

The basic premise of religion-particularly religions of the Abrahamic tradition like Christianity, Judaism and Islam-is the idea that truth has been revealed to mankind by a divine being through His sacred texts, or adherence to certain practice, leading to an enlightened life, deeper understand of the higher being or the promise of a hereafter paradise. Consequently, this leads to unwillingness to compromise on said principles because of the fact that there is a feeling that a divine being, the highest authority of all, is the grounding for their value systems and compromising on said values means diluting the will of the supreme being.

Meanwhile, Democracy is predicated completely on compromise. It is predicated on differing parties coming together and making the necessary compromises in order to further the country's interest, be it maximizing the liberty of the individual, promoting economic growth or national security. But being fallible beings, it is impossible to get the entirety of what one wishes. Therefore, democracy is always an evolving process and one wherein one must be willing to accept compromises, or delay gratification. In a speech to the Constitutional Convention on September  17, 1787, Benjamin Franklin remarked:
I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. 
Furthermore, the concept of liberal democracy-"liberal" as in classic liberalism not left-wing democracy-is a product of Enlightenment thinking, which rejected restricted thinking and promoted tolerance for others, and equality amongst men-albeit not necessarily practicing it. In addition it worked to promote the rights of the minorities or those who did not necessarily belong to those rigid ideologies. It was focused on ensuring that everyone would be able to enjoy a life of liberty and to choose their way of living. Hence there would be protections from democracy's worst abuses like the tyranny of the majority.

Part of this would also include working to promote religious freedom. The American Democratic Experiment worked to mitigate this contradiction by ensuring religious liberty for all people and creating a separation of church and state vis-a-vis the First Amendment. In Israel, the Declaration of Establishment of the State of Israel worked to achieve a Zionist dream by working to "ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture."

Yet, in recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that these two concepts might be anathema to each other. One is interested in seeking the will of a deity or connection to something deeper while the other is focused on what is most effective for the populace, promotes liberty and prosperity. Case in point, with the aforementioned contraception debate, when President Obama worked to reach a compromise with Catholic hospitals, it failed to satisfy the Catholic hierarchy and when Orthodox Rabbis were chided by their more secular Jewish counterparts for their insulting of a Jewish girl, they cried out in persecution and had their children dress as Holocaust prisoners as a symbolic means of crowing persecution.

Perhaps the most glaring example of this clash, comes with same-sex marriage. In the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, same-sex marriage was seen to be a losing issue for anyone who supported it. President Obama famously opposed it. In California, Proposition 8 passed, amending the state's Constitution to limit marriage between one man and one woman, with broad support from Evangelical Christians, African Americans and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints only to be struck down on the Federal Level  by a judge appointed by President George Herbert Walker Bush, before it became aware that the jurist was gay.

However, as LGBT rights continues to gain traction and popularity both among private citizens and by corporations, religious groups have been seeing themselves in a state of flux. Either they continue to preach the same message that they spoke prior to public support for gay rights, or they do what many contemporary churches have done wherein they do not address how to live or how to react to the world but instead focus on the micro level between God and Man and how to worship but not necessarily how to correspond to the world around them.

All of this is not to say that religion and democracy will have to come to a war wherein democracy beats religion or religion trumps democracy. What it is to say however, is that there will inevitably have to be some adaptation for either force to survive. But the rub  is where do they adapt? If democracy adheres to one or more particular religion's demands, then it risks losing its ability to promote liberty in manners that may be contrary to one or more religions' particular demands and surrenders the concepts of equality; if religion changes itself to adhere to Democracy in the wrong way, it risks diluting its initial message and possibly misleading its masses.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

To Governor Romney: Getting Condi as VP isn't a Shoe-in

Last week, the Drudge Report announced that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on the top of Governor Mitt Romney's shortlist for running mates. While the choice for Vice President is oftentimes a game of rampant speculation and rarely gets the selection right, the fact that the Romney campaign would be considering Secretary Rice is a sign that they are looking for a shoe-in candidate. Ideally, Rice would seem to be the ideal companion to Governor Romney; what the former Governor lacks in foreign affairs expertise and experience in management of the federal government management, Rice brings experience as the nation's top diplomat and representative to the world. However, while this may seem like the ideal choice, picking Rice will not necessarily guarantee victory.

First and foremost, it is a canard to believe a selection of a Vice Presidential Candidate rarely affects polls or can pick up voters. Senator John McCain threw a hail Mary pass in 2008 picking Sarah Palin but in the end, the economy trumped the firebrand nature of the Alaska Governor. Similarly, John Edwards failed to pick up his home state of North Carolina for John Kerry, and Geraldine Ferraro did not aid in Walter Mondale's embarrassing campaign in 1984. At the end of the day, voters choose the top of the ticket, not the bottom. Come November, people will not care about what Vice President Joe Biden or Dr. Rice (hypothetically) say or believe-they will only care about President Obama and Governor Romney.

Second, Governor Romney is under the false impression that by picking someone as universally respected as Secretary Rice, that she will be absolved from the usual scrutiny that Vice Presidential candidates face. This is misguided because of the fact that as National Security Adviser and later as Secretary of State, Rice was not directly accountable to the American public, though she has been indirectly via her Senate confirmation hearings. In addition, Secretaries of State have the luxury of having the most non-partisan job in Washington. The role of Secretary of State is that of America's representative to the world and promoting America's interests rather than the interests of one party's ideology over another-though it is possible to instate ideology at the State Department. It is for this reason that partisan hands like James Baker made the transition from George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan's attack dog to foreign policy sage and Hillary Clinton shed the polarizing image she had as First Lady and Senator to becoming one of the most revered members of the Obama Administration.

However, the moment Dr. Rice enters the national stage,  her foreign policy doctrine and her worldview will all be fair game for the press, and the voting public. In turn, all of these will become subject to polarization. It is for this reason that many military and diplomatic technocrat superstars like Colin Powell, David Petraeus, and the aforementioned Secretary Baker have all turned down the offers to run for President; they know running departments and running for office are very different animals altogether. For every Dwight Eisenhower that America may yearn for, there are a thousand Alexander Haigs, Bill Richardsons and Admiral Stockdales.

In addition , a Rice Vice Presidential run would also include questioning on some of the more unpopular aspects of the Bush Presidency, including her advice in how to handle the briefing of President Bush on the eve of September 11, and her hand in the Iraq War and Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Thus, Governor Romney would have the odor of a still relatively unpopular former president attached to his ticket. It could also become a battering ram for President Obama. Together, he and the Vice President could then target the ticket as "continuing the policies of the eight years before, Romney with the fiscal issues and Rice with the foreign policy."

While Vice President is certainly a high call to service, it would mean Dr. Rice would need to value service to Governor Romney more than she values her own legacy. Furthermore, her power would be tethered to how much a hypothetical Romney Administration would give her and if she is given a menial Vice Presidency, the role could be a demotion in regards to her actual work while being a titular promotion. If there is one lesson that both Governor Romney and Dr. Rice need to know before going into a race together is that the candidacy must benefit both of them equally.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Is Egypt Destined for a Clash between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Old Guard

Last week, Egypt witnessed the inauguration of Mohammed Morsi, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the first freely elected President in the nation's history and the first President since Hosni Mubarak. The inauguration comes at a time when many are uneasy about an Islamist Party leading one of the most consequential Arab States. In addition, given the ever tightening grip of the country's Military, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, has led some to wonder if Egypt's uprising has gone sour.

In his inaugural address, Morsi tried to assuage the concerns of the populace, remarking that the military was "the shield and sword of the nation." Despite attempts to assuage fears, the military has continued to be seen as encroaching on the populace that had so welcomed its protection. In fact, it was revealed upon Morsi's election that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Chairman of SCAF, will stay on in the new government as the country's Defense Minister. In addition, Egypt's court system ruled that the Military would oversee the writing of the nation's new Constitution.

Since supplanting Hosni Mubarak back in February of 2011, SCAF has ruled the nation almost autocratically, subjecting women protesters to virginity tests, instated a curfew around its defense ministry, and continuously quashed protests. While this may alarm some people as having the makings of a full blown military coup, it would only be half correct; while the military did in fact force Mubarak out of the presidency, it was for the preservation of regime, not for its destruction. It is important to realize that Egypt has been under the rule of a military officer since the 1952 Free Officers' Movement, when Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, both military officers, overthrew the monarchy of King Farouk. Both of their successors, Anwar Sadat and Mubarak, were high-ranking military officials. Similarly, SCAF has been suspected of having control of almost thirty percent of the economy.

The continuation of the regime has been seen when the country's Presidential Electoral Commission disqualified ten of its presidential candidates, and its courts ruled the nation's freely elected, Parliament unconstitutional. This is a mere continuation of power and an effort to maintain the stability of Egypt, in the eyes of the Military. To SCAF, the prospect of democracy is dangerous because of the possibility that having a civilian government could limit its power [more of that on yesterday's blog post]

What is interesting about all of these efforts to quell real democracy is that in each instance, the elected officials vying for power have included members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist party that was outlawed during the Mubarak rule. While the Muslim Brotherhood was officially decriminalized in the wake of the ouster, there appears to still be great effort on behalf of the regime in order to prevent their rising influence. Many of the candidates barred from running for president were members of the Brotherhood or from Salafist breakaway factions-though to be fair the military did bar Mubarak's former intelligence officer from running. Similarly, the Egyptian parliament had a strong Islamist tilt after the first round of free elections.

The Brotherhood similarly, has had a sordid history. Initially starting as a social organization, equivalent to the YMCA or the Boy Scouts of America, the Brotherhood turned itself into mobile political force that pushed for more religious-based government. While initially supporting the Free Officers, over time they attempted to assassinate members of the regime and Sadat became a source of contempt after the Camp David Accords with Israel. Initially not an active part of the January 25th movement, they emerged as an active and viable political party, and after initially stating they would not put up a Presidential candidate, did just that, only to be met with constant electoral roadblocks.

In turn, it is possible that the Military and the Brotherhood can come to lock horns, and nowhere will this be more apparent than in the coming writing of the Constitution. The military will certainly attempt to curb the religious nature of the ruling party in the draft, but they will balk if the Brotherhood attempts to put them under civilian control because it will mean they are only "the sword and shield" and not the actual governing apparatus of Egypt. Similarly, the Brotherhood's will inevitably face continuous roadblocks by the judicial system and it is very possible the courts could nullify their Constitution, in which case, they will mobilize their devout following against SCAF. In turn, there could be a political implosion or an all out civil war, in which case, it is very possible that a number of offshoot political ideologies will be spawned and set off a new strain of revolutionary thought.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Was Jefferson Opposed to Hyper-Militarism?

On July 4th 1776, the Thirteen British Colonies in America signed the Declaration of Independence. Oftentimes, too much attention is given to its defiant preamble, which states "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal" and rightfully so. However, it is important to note that the preamble was the philosophical foundation that the Founders stood on to declare their independence while the list of grievances are the actual manifested reasons for their separation from Britain. It should then serve to purpose that these grievances are ones that should be consistently read by every concerned American to make sure these errors are not repeated by the American government.

While many know of the colonists distaste for the preferable treatment of the East India Tea Company and the taxes levied by the stamp act, and the quartering of British soldiers inside civilian homes-something which would serve as cause for the Third Amendment of the Constitution-one of the oft ignored complaints was "He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures." The Declaration does not end there in regards to the military. It continues, saying "He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power."

In many ways, this opposition to fierce militarism should not come as a surprise, seeing as it was authored by Thomas Jefferson. To Jefferson, militarism by governments was antithetical to the idea of free and open societies. During his time as an Ambassador to France, Jefferson sent a letter to friend and confidante James Madison, stating his dissatisfaction because it did not include a Bill of Rights that would include freedom of religion, freedom of the press , and the protection of habeas corpus alongside" protection against standing armies." To Jefferson, the idea of a standing army was one that was antithetical to free society.

Jefferson's opposition to standing armies would also carry on in his Presidency. In his first Inaugural Address, Jefferson extolled what he believed were "the essential principles of our Government," among which were "a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority." He was not oblivious to the fact that a nation would need armaments in order to protect itself and to secure liberty's blessings; he famously sent in troops during the Barbary War. But he also believed that an America that had freed itself from the Imperial sword of Britain could not retain its identity of liberty if it were to resort to perpetual war.

He also was aware that if left unchecked, that the Military could turn into a force that could supplant the civilian government. This is not an unfounded fear; it is a possibility in Egypt, where the top General, Hussein Tahtawi serves also as the military's Commander-in-Chief, and is a reality in nations like Pakistan. Hence, having civilian control of the military would mitigate an all-out power grab and ensure that the military would be strong enough to protect the nation, but also weak enough as not to control the citizenry.

On this independence week, there is much fanfare for the wisdom of the Founders of this country and rightfully so. For a Nation less than three centuries old, it has accomplished a great deal and is a promoter of liberty and justice for all. Hence, it is important to also remember the prudence which one of our most beloved Founders saw American military power; not as something to be abused, but something to use with tact and then to be withdrawn.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Active Patriotism

In churches, it is often popular to see the slogan of "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" or to remind the world that it is not "Happy Holidays" but rather "Merry Christmas." However, with tomorrow being the Fourth of July, it is important that the United States has a "re-taking" of Fourth of July. Tomorrow, inevitably shall be filled with feasting, festivities and fireworks. There is nothing inherently wrong with such celebrations. In fact, John Adams famously wrote that on anniversaries of the signing of the Declaration "...It ought to be commemorated as a day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bell, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other."

However, when the celebrations become an end in and of themselves, it is important to refocus and remind ourselves that the founding of this country is exactly what makes America great; that a band of rebels were willing to risk the comforts of complacency to pioneer a new path forward for the land that they loved. It is important to remember that on that muggy day in 18th-century Pennsylvania, the men we see now as our nation's most refined wise men, were committing the highest act of treason by breaking from the mighty British Empire to forge a new nation that would not be based on class, or not on where one was born but on the principle that all men are created equal. With the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Founders signed their death warrant. But they did not shirk from this danger; they reveled in it for they believed in a country not yet borne but in the making.

Thus is the story of all true patriots; to forge that country not yet in existence but borne in one's mind. It is the story of Abolitionists who believed that no men were free until all were free. It is the story of Immigrants who came to these shores and docked at Ellis Island who took the perilous journey, where they would face hard labor and sweat but in their hearts knew there was a chance at prosperity. It is the tale of women who marched and embarked on hunger strikes for their vote, working to make the republic work for them. It is the tale of Rabbis and Preachers embarking on Civil Disobedience, some risking assassination.

Too often, Patriotism can become a Saturnine action, where the extent of our patriotism is hanging a flag upon our doors, firing up our grills and some cherry bombs. Far too often, the word is invoked to silence any criticism of the government. When one is protesting at a politician's event, they are often met with chants of "USA USA," as if simply complying with a politicians' words is somehow more patriotic than the voice of dissent. Yet, this cannot be the extent of our patriotism. True patriotism must be an active thing. True Patriotism must not be blind adherence to government or to national sentiment or to consensus. True patriotism must contain that same moral outrage at wrongdoing and overwhelming joy in times where liberty and justice prevail.

Consequently, there must be risks taken by the populace to preserve this nation. In turn, there will be debate. Oftentimes, the Founders and the Framers are beatified as wise men in robes who received the Constitution from the Celestial powers; this could not be further from the truth. The truth is that they were fallible men who actively debated and argued with their words and pens to discuss the future of their nascent experiment. While some may find that version disheartening, in truth it should be all the more awe-inspiring; it proves that this country was made by imperfect men willing to defy the procrustean tradition and instead opting for a better nation for posterity.

So too, must this generation be willing to embark on the next challenges. This is not a call for constant agreement. On the contrary, this is time for active, debate, that entrenches itself in the discussions of progress. Yet it must also be predicated on the notion that what unites both sides is an abiding desire to move the nation forward. This is a time for constant patriotism. America will not die when an outside force strikes; America will die when the populace rests on the inheritance of its ancestors.