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What Is Patriotism? Are We Getting It from Our Political Leaders Today?

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Message Mike Tower
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I am often asked why we can't seem to find true patriots for our highest elected federal offices. A large part of the answer to this important question is staring back at us every time we look at ourselves in a mirror. After all, no office-holders ever elected themselves to office. Nearly half of us who were eligible to vote in the last national elections did not do so, and almost none of us is actively protesting in any way.

Clearly, any nation's challenges constantly change. To me, patriots are leaders who will always face their own era's unique challenges by consistently and passionately placing the best long-term interests of the vast majority of their nation's citizens ahead of powerful special interests, their political party, or even their own interests.

If the President of the United States, or members of either of our lawmaking bodies, were true patriots, they would spend every waking moment during these trying times solely focused on the following: 1. Our economy...and most importantly the creation of jobs. 2. Our national security. 3. How to control deficit spending and reduce our debt. 4. How to deal with entitlement promises. After all, aren't these really our most important challenges? True patriots are leaders who would never stop working together with the opposition party to meet those challenges effectively.

No individual or political party alone can ever solve the multitude of problems confronting the country in a way that will benefit the vast majority of its citizens. Today, both parties in both legislative houses are  obstructing, rather than helping, efforts by their opponents to find meaningful solutions. Isn't it the President's role to bring the competing factions together for the benefit of all Americans...and not just stand by his own party's side? Aren't all of our elected officials supposed to govern for the benefit of all Americans...and not just those in their own party? Yet, today, our political leaders must instead share blame for doing just the opposite--for placing their own party's interests above the overall needs of our nation's citizens.

Today, too, our leaders seem to be putting their own interests ahead of their duties to the nation. Would a true patriot ever even consider adding to the country's debt burden by taking luxurious vacations? Can you imagine George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Franklin Delano Roosevelt doing such a thing, especially in times of crisis?

According to the Huffington Post, the Obama family's trip to Africa will end up costing around $100 million...all borrowed money. It has to be borrowed, because nearly every dollar spent on discretionary items does. Administration spokespersons say the majority of these expenses are the result of Secret Service efforts to protect the first family's safety. And the $100 million doesn't even take into account the millions of additional dollars it cost to fund the recent tour taken by Michelle and the Obama daughters during the President's attendance at the G8 Summit. Is this the same administration that cancelled school children's visits to the White House because of sequestration cuts to the Secret Service budgets?

The funding of these First Family trips seems no different to me than a family's use of a credit card to finance additional spending for luxury items. Except, in this case the family is using our credit card instead of its own. And it's being done when we can't afford the additional debt. Can you imagine any way in which the First Family's trip to Africa can positively address our nation's joblessness, increasing debt, national security, and entitlement dilemmas?

I do not begrudge our President the right to take time off to recharge his batteries. And, I understand how incredibly expensive it is these days to protect a President's safety. I also understand the need to travel in order to find solutions for our national challenges. However, this trip to Africa demonstrates more of an "emperor's mentality" than that of a patriot. It certainly does not show a hint of the single-minded determination and perseverance a true patriot would display every waking hour in attempting to lead his country out of the kind of deep hole in which our own nation now finds itself.

During ordinary times, perhaps this behavior would be more acceptable. However, these are far from ordinary times. Our nation is in deep economic trouble, and our future is in grave danger. Does President Obama not understand the terrible signal he is sending to all ordinary Americans? Does he not understand how many of his fellow citizens are living paycheck to paycheck, or worse, barely surviving on food stamps and welfare checks?

Is this truly the legacy he wishes to leave behind?

To those of you who will say a hundred million dollars is chicken feed in the greater scheme of things, you may be right. But please's our chicken feed!

Even President Obama's most ardent supporters should be disgusted at this overt display of royal privilege! Does the old story about Nero fiddling while Rome burned come to mind?

These are my opinions. What do you think?

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Mike spent most of his working career in a variety of managerial roles in five different industries for two employers over a 38 year career. He now writes a political Op-Ed column for the Hendersonville, NC Times-News, and displays his favorites at (more...)
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