"It's your patriotic duty."Now, I'm not trying to say that voting is NOT your duty as a citizen of the country, nor am I claiming that it's not a patriotic thing to do. I'm saying that the meaning of this phrase (much like the word "sick" these days) has either been lost or changed; in either case, it's not being used correctly.
In my view, the problem is in that oft-used and oft-abused word, "patriotism." The dictionary defines it as "devoted love, support, and defense of one's country; national loyalty." National loyalty, as in loyalty to the NATION. It comes out of the word "patriot", defined as "a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country with devotion" and "a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, esp. of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government." (interesting use of the individual angle there!) So far, nothing to be upset about, you might say. Well, you're partially right.
The problem is that this is not how the word is being used. I look around, I see the actions, and I hear the reasons and justifications. It seems that, today, patriotism means one of two things: either it means one defends and supports the government passionately or it means one defends and supports one's political party passionately. Can you see the difference?
Let's go in reverse order. Defending one's political party, in my opinion, is the a big waste of time. What has any political party done for you, ever? Oh, I'm sure you had something just leap to mind, but ask yourself, did "the party" do that, or did individuals do that? It's a fine distinction I'm making, but an important one. The Party is merely a faceless entity, doing little more than claiming power, because more people in power claim allegiance to it. With those allegiances, it can then try to get decisions made that it agrees with. But, as a faceless entity with no real substance, where do those ideas come from? From those that ASK them to make them. And why would it bother? Because it is PAID to do it. So, who's really the driving force behind any Party? Those with the cash to pay it to work their way. Does this make you think it's working for you, the average Citizen? Now, with this in mind, think about your typical political discussions and actions. In the end (and sometimes, it doesn't have the decency to wait THAT long), it comes down to the Republicans fighting with the Democrats about what to do. Not what is the right thing to do, not what is the best for the citizens of the country, but simply which side has more votes, and who is engaged in the most scandals at the moment. So, in the end, is it worth it to you to even give a shit about what political party any candidate is, other than to see how they will screw you in advance of them doing it? Citizens of America spend entirely too much time "being" Democrat or Republican and not enough time actually checking out the candidates and issues to see what's best for the country. This has a lot to do with why we are in the state we are in, these days. Face it, every candidate is going to tell you that they are "working for you" to get your vote, and most of the time, it's not YOU they are listening to. Yes, there are exceptions, good politicos who have done good things...but I'm mostly trying to get the point across here to the citizens who vote, who mostly vote for their party, simply because it is their party, not because it's the best candidate. Thus, supporting your party passionately is not patriotic, because it's loving, supporting, and defending something in spite of it's potential effect on the country.
And the government...well, this could get out of hand, so I'll try to keep it light. Understand something, please: the government is not here to help you, nor does it answer to you, Citizen. The government, in fact, has a vested interest in NOT answering your questions or caring what you think. Now, some of this is perfectly understandable: the average person is not very bright, and cannot make decisions of a level needed for acting in the World Community. This is part of why there is government at all, since, without it, we'd have no way of acting globally (anarchy and free-market laissez-faire capitalism sound great, but one is impossible on a global level and the other is a LOT of work and a LOT of social engineering to make happen). Besides, when it comes to global intelligence, can you imagine the havoc if it were shared, openly, with the whole country? People are warlike and stupid, especially when there's a mob mentality and/or some kind of group hatred going on. They don't stop to ask if any one person is a member of a hated group, they only judge on sight and act. On top of that, there's simply no time to disseminate facts like that and get an answer from the country. Now, with that in place, you'd think that it might be your duty to support the government. I say this is not true. The government's job is to run the country and to take care of it's people; maybe it doesn't have to tell us everything, etc., but it does have to take care of us. After all, without citizens, there is no country. SO, if the government is doing a crappy job or doing something wrong, no, you don't have to support it. Hell, this country's founders were men who didn't agree with their government, and so they set up a new one elsewhere. Telling the government to shape up is possibly one of the most patriotic things one CAN do, as it is definitely putting the good of the country FIRST, something lacking in modern government. Just because it's the government's action, doesn't mean you have to agree...and doesn't mean the government is right.
Don't confuse patriotism with blind-faith. You can support the warrior and not the war. You can think for yourself, and not let these people put you in a simple box they can define and control (or worse yet, put yourself in that box and defend it). Dammit, you have a brain, and the chance to use it. Choosing not to do so is possibly the dumbest thing you could ever do. You can be a Citizen...or you can just be a Civilian.
It's your choice. Now, do your patriotic duty...and make it.