Streetcar Line

Patriotic Stirrings in the Real America

Folks in Alabama sense a dangerous problem in this country -- and his first name is "Barack."

By 7.8.11

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Point Clear, AL -- Down here on the Gulf Coast, unlike in the Virginia suburbs of DC, people tend to display American flags even when it’s not the Fourth of July. But on the boardwalk in Point Clear on Independence Day weekend, flags are ubiquitous, their display joyous and un-self-conscious. My 13-year-old nephew, unbidden, flawlessly recites the key lines of the Declaration. Families on the boardwalk sponsor a children’s parade, with more red-white-and-blue on a single wagon or bicycle than you might see on a whole neighborhood in, oh, Los Angeles or somewhere like that. And the children can tell you, seeming to understand what they are saying rather than just repeating it by rote, that we are celebrating the facts that we are Americans and we are free.

All up and down the shoreline of Mobile Bay, private families or groups of families don’t merely shoot off a few bottle-rockets, but actually compete with the organized public fireworks displays with nearly half-hour extravaganzas of their own, each one visible a mile or more away. This isn’t “jingoism” or some such sentiment described by some trendy leftish pejorative; it’s just honest patriotism honestly expressed.

 For me, newly repatriated on the Gulf after five years, everybody has questions. How can anybody think it’s okay to tell me I’m required to buy a certain service (the Obamacare mandate)? And How can they possibly think they’ll solve anything by having the government spend more money? And How can they even begin to justify these levels of debt?

There’s a genuine puzzlement, as if the attitudes of Official Washington and of the establishment media just don’t compute -- for the very good reason that those lefty elitist attitudes really don’t compute, because they don’t make sense of any sort. The Washington elite’s attitudes defy logic, violate the ethics of ordinary life, trample on common sense, and offend the common decency usually upheld by communal norms of quotidian virtue.

More than anything else, though, again and again and again, the question comes at me, with a deep concern almost plaintive in nature: Who is out there who can beat Obama and do an okay job? This isn’t merely a “Clinton is a scuzzbucket” or a “Carter is inept” sort of sentiment. This is different. This is an expression of the conviction that what Obama is doing, along with the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, is alien to our very idea of what being an American means. And no, this isn’t a concern with where Obama was born or what color his skin is; instead, it truly is a reaction to the president’s ideas, warped ideals, and precipitate actions. What is alien is not Obama’s being, not his person, but his worldview, his arrogance and his cold disregard for American traditions and allies. Many people doubt not just Obama’s judgment but also his motives.

And it’s no wonder. American history hasn’t seen -- not even at the depth of the New Deal -- quite so brazen a government power grab as several actions Obama has countenanced. Not only taking over car companies but unilaterally destroying the obligation of contracts that ordinarily provide secured creditors -- bondholders -- with first rights under law, instead seizing their property and awarding it to union bosses without regard to any accepted principles of property rights. Violating legislative protocol in numerous ways to take over a sixth of the entire economy and impose the aforementioned individual mandate. Running roughshod over ordinary restraints on executive agency fiats, blithely declaring despotic rulings as faits accomplis and effectively daring objectors to file lawsuits to stop them. And, of course, operating the most lawless Justice Department since at least the days of Nixon’s John Mitchell.

These are dangerous actions by the president and his minions. These Obamite pursuits are the actions of people who would feel more out of place at a Point Clear Independence Day parade than the Connecticut Yankee felt in King Arthur’s court. Does anybody doubt that Van Jones would sneer at the tri-colored bunting? Does anybody doubt that White House Science Czar John Holdren would look askance at the propagation of so many carbon-emitting children? Does anybody really think that Obama himself feels real joy at hearing a 13-year-old recite the Declaration’s words about rights endowed by a Creator?

Abroad, this president is just as bad. He insults allies Great Britain and Israel. He reneges on missile-defense commitments to Poland and other allies. He undermines the legitimate, pro-U.S. government of Honduras. He lets semi-West-friendly protesters in Iran and Syria get slaughtered without offering even verbal support, but he actively helps revolutionaries of unknown sympathies force out flawed but American-friendly Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

If people around the globe now are confused about when and how and even if the United States stands up for freedom and the friends of freedom, it’s no mystery why people in the American hinterlands are confused, worried, and even fearful as well.

And, lest this be misinterpreted as just the whining of an affluent subculture on Mobile Bay, rest assured that I hear the same talk in grocery stores, diners, hardware outlets, and just about everywhere else I go. Out here in the real America, patriotism supersedes socioeconomics. Furthermore, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design” antithetical to American freedom, “it is their right, it is their duty,” to become active in the civic realm -- and to set things right. Those children in Independence Day parades -- all across the “red” and “purple” states of the USA -- certainly deserve no less.

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About the Author
Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom. Follow him on Twitter @QuinHillyer.