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Right To Speak Out Against Our Government

July 20, 2019

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The right to have disagreements with our government in strong energetic terms, is one of the most cherished of American values.  Read the words of those who opposed the adoption of the Constitution in the ratifying stage. Read the speeches of Henry Clay, John Calhoun, or Daniel Webster who took strong positions, for and against, a series of issues of national importance and connected to the presidential administrations of their time.

Or consider the language used against President Polk by then Congressman Abe Lincoln. Polk had called for war, accusing Mexico of shedding “American blood on American soil.”

Lincoln responded by introducing a series of resolutions demanding to know the “particular spot of soil on which the blood of our citizens was so shed.” One of Lincoln’s constituents branded him “the Benedict Arnold of our district.” The use of strong language against our government is as old as the nation itself.  And we also see that strong language is not a barrier to political advancement. 

Recall how congressional Republicans savagely attacked President Obama for eight years. Relentlessly. Those same people should now recognize that conflating lack of admiration for one particular president, or his administration, or his party with disrespect for the United States itself violates the nation’s founding principles.  That is just Basic 101 of every history course taught in this nation.

Yes, history does matter, as the point I am making deals with the very essence of the idea of America. Loyalty to our country does not demand, in any way, taking an uncritical eye to its past, or its present state of affairs.

Next time you hear Trump, or a sycophant, claim otherwise tell them to study John Randolph.

As Paul Harvey would now say, “Now you know the rest of the story”.

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