KRYSTAL BALL: Next Monday is Patriots' Day in Boston and thousands of modern patriots will take to the streets to run, to celebrate and to come together out of tragedy, proving true the words of our pledge, one nation, under God, indivisible. That word though, patriot, has become a really loaded one. To see what I mean, consider Cliven Bundy, the rancher who has refused to pay the people of the U.S. what he owes for use of our land because he views the U.S. federal government as a foreign interloper.
Mr. Bundy denies the legitimacy of our republic. And though he's been found guilty twice by courts in Nevada, he seems to want to pick and choose the laws that he feels like obeying. But to many on the right he's a hero, a patriot. In fact, the word patriot has become almost synonymous with right-wing anti-government views. On the fringe, quote/unquote patriot groups are grounded in extreme anti-government doctrine, conspiracy theories and fear of impending government violence. They have names like 22nd Field Force Alabama Militia, American Patriot Party and the John Birch Society.
Many of the protesters drawn to Cliven Bundy's ranch with firearms ready to do whatever it takes to keep Cliven Bundy from complying with federal law were militia members, part of that patriot movement. In more mainstream political thought, the word patriot has become so closely associated with the political right that it was on the now infamous IRS BOLO list, the implication being where you find the word patriot you will likely find a politically active conservative group.
In fact, though, a lot of what is done under this banner of patriotism is really anything but. Cliven Bundy is no patriot for threatening armed insurrection over his refusal to pay money for his use of our land. The Wisconsin Republican party is not patriotic for supporting a resolution, enabling the state to secede from our union.
And the contempt that some on the right feel for their fellow citizens, Mitt Romney's famous 47%, the takers, the welfare queens, the young bucks buying T-bone steaks. Paul Ryan's generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work. That contempt for your fellow country men and women is anything but patriotic.
We on the left should not allow conservatives to get away with appropriating patriotism, bastardizing it and claiming it as their exclusive domain. We should not accept their loaded rendering of the term because real patriotism should be grounded in the recognition that from the highest heights of power down to the homeless veterans sleeping on the street, we are all Americans bonded together through our citizenship in a country that at its best day stands at its tallest as the land of opportunity.
Real patriotism is grounded in striving to make more perfect that ideal, that ideal of a fair shot for all so your station at birth does not determine your station at death. And real patriotism means making the country ever more democratic so that the franchise is expanded and power is distributed to all the people, not just the ones who can afford to buy into the system. These are all liberal ideals that are frequently undermined by those claiming the mantle of patriotism.
Real patriots do what the citizens of Boston are doing. They stand together, respect one another, fight for one another, and see the injustice of one as the injustice of all. Because rich or poor, black or white, Democrat or Republican, we are all Americans. We're in this together. And to a real patriot, that means something. I'd rather watch the folks in Boston than even think of the gun-toting anti-patriots in Nevada somehow trying to make law breaker Cliven Bundy a hero.