Alexander's Column

On American Patriotism

By Mark Alexander · Sep. 9, 2010
“Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” –George Washington
Generations of American Patriots

The ideal of “patriotism” evokes different concepts of what it means to be patriotic, but for most, patriotism equates with “love of country,” and some degree of nationalism.

In regard to our Republic, Thomas Jefferson advised, “Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself.”

Of course, Jefferson and our Founders understood that American Patriotism was (and remains) something quite apart from obedient loyalty to the state or its sovereigns. Jefferson’s “country” represented the eternal struggle for liberty over tyranny.

In 1775, the English author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, a Tory loyalist, wrote that American Patriots' quest for liberty was nothing more than “the delirious dream of republican fanaticism” which would “put the axe to the roots of all government.”

Johnson concluded famously, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” The consummate cynic Ambrose Bierce would later counter, “I beg to submit that it is the first.”

Unlike King George’s partisans, however, American Patriots were unwaveringly loyal to something much larger than a mere man or geo-political institution. They pledged their sacred honor in support of Essential Liberty as “endowed by our creator” and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Constitution.

During the same year Johnson was denigrating American Patriotism, Founder Alexander Hamilton was aptly defining its basis in America: “To grant that there is a supreme intelligence who rules the world and has established laws to regulate the actions of his creatures; and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears to a common understanding altogether irreconcilable. Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed that the deity, from the relations we stand in to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever. This is what is called the law of nature.”

Hamilton continued: “Upon this law depends the natural rights of mankind: the Supreme Being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beatifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which, to discern and pursue such things, as were consistent with his duty and interest, and invested him with an inviolable right to personal Liberty, and personal safety. The Sacred Rights of Mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of the Divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

Our Founders declared “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” and they constituted this affirmation in order to “secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

George Washington encouraged “the just pride of patriotism” but warned of those who would misrepresent their love for country in an effort to advance other less noble ends: “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

Washington also understood that Liberty was the gift of God, not government, and in his farewell address, he notes concern that in a future day, this order of Liberty could be lost: “Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths. … Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Washington’s successor, John Adams, asserted, “Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”

Note, however, what Adams proclaimed: Liberty must be supported at all costs, but not so the state. Indeed, American Patriotism is rooted in defiance of the state when it becomes oppressive to Essential Liberty. Our Constitution enshrines this Liberty, about which Adams warned, “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

American Patriots must, therefore, in the words of Patrick Henry, “Guard with jealous attention the public Liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”

That jealous devotion to Liberty is the inspiration for the recent grassroots resurgence of Patriots across our nation, those for whom “the name of American” does, indeed, “exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”

These “right-wingers,” as Barack Hussein Obama calls us, are devoted to something much larger than self, which is why our motives are such a mystery to Obama and his egocentric disciples.

Indeed, we are devoted to First Principles, as outlined in our Patriot Declaration.

Our steadfast support for Liberty and limited government is diametrically opposed to the socialist manifesto of the Democrat Party, framed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and renewed by every Democrat president since.

Their statist doctrines are an utter affront to the Essential Liberty promoted by the Democrat Party’s claimed Founder, Thomas Jefferson.

In his landmark 1962 treatise on Liberty, “Capitalism and Freedom,” economist Milton Friedman challenged a famous quote posited by the modern Democrat Party’s most cherished icon, John Kennedy (as lifted from the Roman statesman, Cicero).

“Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.’ Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. The paternalistic ‘what your country can do for you’ implies that the government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man’s belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny. The organismic, ‘what you can do for your country’ implies that the government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary. To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them… [H]e regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served.”

Friedman concluded, “The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather ‘What can I and my compatriots do through government’ to … advance our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom? And he will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?”

In the nearly 50 years since Friedman penned that last question, our central government has become something far more menacing and sinister than The Modern Prometheus (a.k.a. Frankenstein) in Mary Shelley’s classic novel, something no longer constrained by our Constitution and Rule of Law. In this respect, Obama’s template for government growth foretells the end of Liberty.

Fortunately, American Patriots will not stand idly by and allow the last vestiges of Liberty to devolve into tyranny. In Jefferson’s words, “Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.”

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39 Comments

Ed Feulner said:

Dear Mark: What a great essay! As always, you inspire us and remind us of those underlying principles that bring us together as Americans.Keep up your great work! Ed

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Mark Zanghetti said:

Well spoken and compelling words, I applaud your grasp of the founding principles. The question is how do we begin to live out those principles in our daily lives in a way to effect those around us? I am ashamed to say that I don't know how to do that and am not sure how to learn. But I am inspired to try by the words you have written!

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Jim Jefferson said:

In Jefferson's words, "Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them."This says it all,Jim Jefferson

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Ann Hunter said:

The Declaration of Independence should have been codified as law. Much of what Americans believe descends from that document, but is not supported by the Constitution. This causes a true problem, when knowing something to be true, one seeks the reference, and finds it is not in a law, but in "merely" the Declaration. That Declaration should be appended to the Constitution as the Pre-preamble, so that the Supreme Court, for example, would be forced to rule in favor of our Creator.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Ruth Ann Wilson said:

"Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.' Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. The paternalistic 'what your country can do for you' implies that the government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man's belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny. The organismic, 'what you can do for your country' implies that the government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary. To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them... [H]e regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served."I am glad you printed this, Mr. Alexander. By the time Kennedy made that "quote", we, in America, had devolved into "government thinking", NOT what we were established, a Nation where individuals have rights and privileges Under God.Incrementally, we were given "platitudes" that sounded "high and good", but they end in the "ditch."Thanks for your good work.For God & CountryThe American

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Bob W said:

Mark,Nicely done! What we (conservatives) "can do for our country" is continue the Patriotic fight to limit and reduce the feds reach and control over our personal lives.And we should pledge to do what is necessary should forthcoming events fail to limit the federal governments unconstitutional oversteps and illegal intrusions into our freedoms and liberties, no matter the cost. So I will start it off. "I, Bob W, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same."Purposely left out, “and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States” since he has, by virtue of his aggressive unconstitutional, illegitimate, and communistic actions, lost the loyalty he would normally earn. Wait a minute, that oath sounds familiar! Any other oath takers ready should measures fail in November?

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:16 PM

Vincent Lockyer said:

Mark - I have only recently become a reader of the Patriot Post and I wanted to tell you that it has had a great influence on me. I look forward every day to getting my emails. Previous to this, I was completely disheartened with the direction to which this country has been steered. I thought that I was alone and that there was nothing that I, one small person could do about it. I was so mad that I had stopped voting and had even gone so far to stop flying my American flag, "Old glory", in front of my house. Now, my patriotism renewed, (Big thanks to you and your staff.)I have raised my flag high and will tell anyone that will listen about the Patriot Post and more importantly what it means to be American and a Patriot.I keep my Essential Liberty guide handy as I try to converse intelligently with those who would blindly go along with whatever our runaway government would do in the name of "good of the people".Keep it coming!Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!Vincent Lockyer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:18 PM

skip said:

Ask not what the state can do to preserve and protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; ask what you can do to perserve and protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Hugh said:

Keep preaching those fundamentals Mark. We all need to hear it in order to combat the menace to freedom that this current administration has revealed itself to be. Amen!

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:23 PM

ABNCP in Phoenix AZ said:

Perhaps the greatest thing to come from the Obamachapter of American history is that it has brought about a renewal of patriotism and concern for their country to many Americans.The Tea Party movement reflects a new and growing awarness by Americans that the preceding 50 years of slumber can no longer be allowed to continue.For this country to move forward under our First Principles that awareness has to be acted upon and activly supported by the majority of Americans.The beautiful information in this piece must be seen, understood and become part of our political landscape.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Bruce said:

Thank you, Mark, for so eloquently describing our stand for liberty. Once as a military officer I was prepared to do battle for my country. How much more willingly now will I put my life on the line to fight, to the death if need be, for liberty.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Barry Watson said:

I'm beginning to think that the way this country is growing with different immigrations from many different country's that the country will suffer in the long run. It will begin to have factions in whatever city or town the government deems to put that particular sect. It's the same with shites and sunni tribes overseas. There is just much going on in the world nobody sees it coming.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Sharon in Reading, PA said:

As Capt. Kirk once said, "In every revolution there is one man with a vision." Mark Alexander could be that man. We need men of intelligence, vision, and guts to come forward and make the change we so desperately need in this country. Jefferson said that there should be a revolution every 20 years. We're way overdue.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming said:

Whenever some a##hole says," members of Congress need to be more civil", I have a reply for them. Do you know fist fights were common on the floor of Congress during the early stages of the Republic. And have you ever heard of Alexander Hamilton and Arron Burr? What some of the a##holes include the Republican Leadership (still an oxymoron). I am still waiting or the Republican Leadership to say, "where is the birth certificate".

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Frank J. Lazzaro said:

This goes against everything I was ever taught in school. Thank you for continuing to strengthen the patriotic American's intellectual arsenal.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:55 PM