KAMISCHKE: Patriot, opposition or saboteur?

If you're old enough, recall the Vietnam War demonstrations, White House in the background, young protesters chanting "Hell, no! We won't go!"
Jan 3, 2014

Now, add an equally angry group, often veterans, chanting "America, love it or leave it!"

Fifty years later, it's possible to call each group patriotic, although it was difficult to see at the time.

These two groups represented opposite ends of a continuum regarding a government policy. Conservatives on one end, thinking that, in times of war, we should all stand with the government. Burning flags and draft cards were unpatriotic if not treasonous.

Liberals on the other end, thinking that the war (and the draft) must stop, sad and angry that 60,000 Americans died defending a flawed foreign policy.

People in the U.S. were spread all along the continuum, with few in the middle.

Remembering this history is instructive, because today we have a new continuum about a new argument. Ironically, we must now put the liberals on the side supporting government policies, and the conservatives opposite, resisting those policies.

Conservatives now think that resisting the government is very patriotic. They've adapted metaphors from the Revolutionary War, calling themselves the Tea Party, arming themselves against a repressive government, using phrases like "taking our country back," refusing to compromise — just like "Give me liberty or give me death!"

So, why does this current rebellion not feel like patriotism to me? Perhaps it’s because today's rebels have conceptually separated government from the Union, making it possible for them to hate the government while loving America. This distinction may work for a monarch-ruled colony, but it's difficult to defend in a democracy with a twice-elected president, whose most oppressive action was getting health care to more people.

Vietnam protesters didn't hate government, per se; they hated specific government policies. No one was thinking that government, as an institution, was the problem and wanted to “drown it in the bathtub." Goals weren’t contingent on debasing government, but on moving government to change its policies.

Far-right conservatives, under a banner of “taking our government back,” are not offering a better government — just a smaller, weaker one. The sequester cuts, designed to hurt everyone, were just fine for them. They are not discussing the advancement of justice for all, equality for all, or fairness for all. Their strategy is resistance, not problem solving, not future building, not unity.

If I were running an organization that wanted to cripple the U.S. government, this is what I'd do: First, I would delegitimize their leader. I'd say that he wasn't even a citizen and, therefore, undeserving of being president. With disdain, I would not accept any documents offering proof of citizenship, thus eliminating any way to refute my outrageous claims. I'd insist that he was secretly an angry Muslim, just like al Qaida. Then I'd do everything I could to stop his legislative agenda, calling him a socialist and fascist (who cares if they are opposites). I’d yell, “You lie! “ during his State of the Union speech.

When he adopts a conservative proposal, like the individual health care mandate — first proposed by the Heritage Foundation, endorsed by Republicans Grassley, Gingrich and others, and enacted at the state level by our presidential candidate — I'd find some distinction, no matter how small, and claim his proposal is nothing like ours, ensure no one from our party votes for it, insist on a supermajority for even the smallest legislative act, refuse to participate at the state level, take it to the Supreme Court, vote repeatedly to repeal it; misrepresent it by planting ideas like death panels, increased debt and unconstitutionality, and urge citizen who could benefit from it to abstain.

Additionally, I'd start a relentless, take-no-prisoners campaign that began the first day of the current president’s election and never let up. I'd use the debt limit and the continuing resolution as a bargaining chip, and threaten to close down the government every few months. I would be willing to put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk to achieve my ends.

Anyway, that's what I'd do if I wanted to hurt the world’s most successful democracy. By continuing the rope-a-dope political antics, I'd make it impossible to address more pressing issues like unemployment, immigration, aging infrastructure, failing education, shrinking middle class, imbalance of trade, a streamlined tax policy — just to name the obvious. While China — our biggest economic rival — convened, debated and passed a five-year plan, I’d foment meaningless churn and kept it going for what looks like eight years, perhaps more.

Is it possible to remain the world's most powerful economy and innovation leader with a dysfunctional government? I think not.

Government has a key role to play, and those who cripple it as a long-term strategy are not patriots, not the loyal opposition; they're saboteurs.

— By Richard Kamischke, Tribune community columnist



I think it's important to define and acknowledge the various levels and degrees of extremes of the far right. There are those citizens who sincerely believe government has gotten too big, too cumbersome, too redundant, to continue to be effective. There are those who feel animosity towards our first mixed-race president, and are jumping on the 'small government' bandwagon as cover. There is the far right wing leadership, both elected and non-elected, desperate to hold onto power, money, glory, and control, and for whom there is no limit to the money, resources, energy, and thought to create strategies to sabotage, block, obfuscate, and destroy - even their own former proposals and legislation - who view Obama, the twice-elected man with the greatest majority margins since Eisenhower, who has accomplished exactly what he campaigned on, as public and private enemy #1.

The hysteria that has resulted from all this is not uncommon in US history. The Civil War was supposed to settle the calls for secession, but the secessionist movement has begun to grow in the past 5 years, even though the hoops necessary to form a new state are enormous. In Colorado, 11 counties attempted to secede from Colorado and form a 51st state - it was rejected by the majority of voters. Not to be deterred, a group of sheriffs in those very same counties have taken it upon themselves to not follow the recently passed Colorado gun public safety laws, nullifying their oath of office.

This sounds unconstitutional to me. Mr. Kamischke, I agree with your assertion that there are some who are government saboteurs - and there are some for whom the word 'treasonous' can apply, as well.


The damage done in 2010 with the emergence of the Tea Party Congressional caucus, heady from gerrymandered elections, may very well become incalculable. Pretending they were sent to Washington with a mandate from the majority, they have successfully rendered Congress not only ineffective, but set back the country while in the midst of a slow recovery after the most severe economic recession in 80 years, and weakened US influence and power on serious issues of global consequences.

Bitter, paranoid, and desperate over the fact that the Recession was largely due to Republican policies, coupled with the loss of power and control of the 2008 election, the Republican party chose a strategy that was cunning, devious, and highly successful. It joined with the Koch Bros Tea Party in capitalizing on the fear, frustration, discontent, and disapproval of government by US citizens. Nullifying their sacred Oath of Office and pledging their oath to Grover Norquist and his command - "make government so small, it will drown in the bathtub", they effectively chose the Party Line of destruction, filibuster, repeal, defunding, and coercive partisanship over their country. The rest is history.

There has always been a conservative movement in the US; the movement itself has never been widely popular; currently, many people who are members of the Tea Party have deluded themselves into thinking they are standing up for the People by opposing and wanting to weaken Government. The problem is: We the People are the Government.

Former Grandhavenite

Funny how the whole sentiment of, "This is America! Support our president or get out! Love it or leave it!" suddenly evaporated on about, oh- let's say January 20, 2009.

Mystic Michael

Ya got that right!


I've gotta wonder what these people's ultimate goal is for this country...complete collapse and anarchy? For what reason(s)? Is it simply a case of "follow the money"? or is there something even more nafarious at work here these days?

Mystic Michael

Money is always a major factor. And power - which makes it all the easier to accrue even more money.

The goal is to weaken, starve and demoralize government to the point that it can no longer function as an effective counterweight to the swelling power of the multinational corporations, the Wall Street banks, and the new billionaire robber barons - the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelsons of the world - such that they can pretty much do whatever they want to do, no matter who it hurts. Even more than they already have.

Right-wing politicians & judges, supported and directed by corporate astroturf front groups "Americans for Prosperity" & "FreedomWorks", as well as the insidious American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have helped to institutionally lock in the plutocrats' gains via such judicial initiatives as the "corporations are people" Citizens United ruling and the more recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act (both by the SCOTUS), as well as disparate legislative tactics intended to neutralize the collective bargaining rights of organized labor (so-called "right to work" laws), to suppress the vote in mostly Democratic-leaning precincts & districts (new voter ID laws, elimination of early voting and same-day registration, etc.), and much more.

Grassroots Tea Party people have served as useful idiots throughout this process, blissfully clueless to the fact that they are helping to tear down the only remaining institution that can ultimately protect them from the very interests that they now support.


What marvelous selective memory - leaping from the Vietnam War protesters to the Tea Party; unlike President Obama, who never misses an opportunity to blame George Bush for Obama's own policy failings, Kamischke ignores what the Democrats did to President Bush for ten long years. At least the Vietnam protests weren't partisan - they were protesting the war in which Democrat Lyndon Johnson sought and received war authorization under the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

He might have woven into his elaborate theory of what constitutes patriotism the fact that all leading Democrats rattled the sword against Saddam Hussein and voted for resolution after resolution based on the intelligence community's assessment that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that he would use. This continued through the time that they voted a War Powers Resolution as requested by President Bush, with the Democratic-led Senate voting in favor 77-23.

Saint Hillary was particularly vocal ""In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability and his nuclear program. … If left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”

All pulling together until things didn't go well in Iraq, the Democrats ran anti-war candidate Howard Dean, and the Democrats pilloried Bush for relying on the very same intelligence sources they had relied upon in voting for the war powers - trying to attract the left wing base of Dean.

Was it a patriotic gesture when Harry Reid introduced a bill to pull out all of the troops from Iraq in 2007? Was it a patriotic gesture when democrats introduced a bill to defund the Iraq War? Was it a patriotic gesture when Harry Reid called Bush a "loser" and a "liar?"Was it a patriotic gesture when Harry Reid infamously declared in 2007 "This war is lost" before the surge had a chance to become successful and while troops were engaged with the enemy overseas? No, these were disgusting actions amounting to treason. Of course, as part of his failed foreign policy Obama has squandered the tremendous gains made in Iraq on behalf of the Iraqi people.

Kamischke really has a pair on him to claim Republicans lied about Obamacare when Obama lied for three years "If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance - period. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor - period." In fact, he lied so consistently that the Washington Post accorded his lies the "Lie of the Year." Does Kamischke think we are all stupid? Apparently so.

If you really wanted to cripple the United States financially, foreign policy wise, health wise, morally and philosophically you would elect an inexperienced, socialist, lying community organizer who couldn't find his butt with both hands - and then re-elect him

Mystic Michael

You make a textbook case for precisely why progressive Democrats need to hold their leaders' feet to the fire: Because when they cave to Republican pressure to invade sovereign nations at the behest of the oil industry, for example, and it blows up in their faces, weasel Republicans will then attempt to evade responsibility for the debacle by making Democrats the scapegoats - just as you have attempted.

Speaking of the new healthcare insurance exchanges, have you so soon forgotten such classic right-wing smears as "...kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens..." (Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota) or "death panels" (former governor Sarah Palin R-Alaska)? Now then, what were you saying about selective memory?


Interesting - can't give a response without a link because it invokes the spam filter - you defenders of the First Amendment win - resistance is futile - thanks Trib.


There's always a conspiracy and dark shadowy figures with you isn't there? Do you not understand the reason for spam filters?

If you're going to blame the Tribune for some poorly written code from a 3rd party program you obviously have no clue how things work, even on a small local level.

Assuming I understand what it is you're trying to say....I suggested a work around for the link problem a week ago that I proved worked, if you can't figure out how to circumvent small problems, how can you think you could fix anything in the District of Criminals?


I found after being blocked several times, links or no links, that repeatedly hitting 'save' seems to override the spam filter message. Trib Team - I assume you are aware of this problem, and it is getting fixed. Your website look like a ghost town!


I found after being blocked several times, links or no links, that repeatedly hitting 'save' seems to override the spam filter message. Trib Team - I assume you are aware of this problem, and it is getting fixed. Your website look like a ghost town!

Mystic Michael

The ultimate problem is the vast majority of people in this country who are politically inert: ill-informed, apathetic, passive. In such a naive and gullible condition, they are easy pickins for every demagogue politician to come along (*cough*Ted Cruz*cough*).

Unfortunately, since we live in a democracy, even the dummies have a voice - so the rest of us are forced to live with the results. If we had an electorate that was really on top of its game, the right-wing extremists - in Washington and in the state capitols - would never have found a foothold in the first place, much less would they be in a position to continue to confuse and manipulate the people.


Cough - Barack Hussein Obama - the "Democracy" elected an incompetent who lied to us and screwed almost everyone -

Bio of Ted Cruz : After graduating from Princeton, Cruz attended Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 1995 with a Juris Doctor.[2][30] While at Harvard Law, Cruz was a primary editor of the Harvard Law Review, and executive editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and a founding editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review.[5] Referring to Cruz's time as a student at Harvard Law, Professor Alan Dershowitz said, "Cruz was off-the-charts brilliant."[12][31][32][33][34][35] At Harvard Law, Cruz was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics.[36]

Cruz currently serves on the Board of Advisors of the Texas Review of Law and Politics.[36][37]
Legal career
Cruz giving a speech to the Montgomery County Republican Party meeting held in Conroe, Texas, on August 19, 2013

Cruz served as a law clerk to J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1995[4][36] and William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States in 1996.[2] Cruz was the first Hispanic ever to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.[38]
Private practice

After Cruz finished his clerkships, he took a position with Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal, which is now known as Cooper & Kirk, LLC, from 1997 to 1998.[39]

Care to compare that with the career of Barack Hussein Obama? Please do!

Mystic Michael

So let me get this straight: You’re now claiming that Ted Cruz couldn’t possibly be a demagogue, because he was a successful law student and lawyer? Have you never heard of a "non-sequitur", Vladdy? Your arguments just get sillier and more desperate every day.

But since you brought him up, Professor Dershowitz has also stated about Ted Cruz, in connection to Cruz' role during the recent government shutdown: "I think you can make a very strong argument that what Ted Cruz is doing is deeply unconstitutional." So while admittedly being "off-the-charts brilliant", Ted Cruz is also off-the-charts devious and off-the-charts unscrupulous. Which goes directly to my original point.

Since you now apparently wish to play "the resume game", were you really unaware that after graduating from Columbia University, Barack Obama also attended Harvard Law School, where he served, first as editor of Harvard Law Review, then as president of Harvard Law Review, before graduating magna cum laude? In addition to working as a successful attorney in private practice, and serving as professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, as well as a member of the Illinois State Legislature, the U.S. Senate, and oh yes...as President of the United States? Or does it disrupt the shallowness of your case to acknowledge such inconvenient truths?


Despite his academic accomplishments and supposedly sublime intellect, Senator Cruz apparently flunked Ethics 101. According to PolitiFacts Texas, the young, Junior Senator has a terrible record regarding truthfulness. Of 27 recent public statements Sen Cruz made regarding Obamacare, (19) were totally false, (8) were half true or mostly true, and (1) was true. And according to what I've been reading about how most members of his own party leadership feel about him, he should have squeezed in a Dale Carnegie 'How To Win Friends and Influence People' course - he scores very low in areas of likability....hmmmm - deja vu?


Thank goodness we have been so blessed to have magnanimous people like you M&M! So generous, so kind to want to save everyone from themselves. Save us, please save us Michael!

Mystic Michael

Hey, save yourself, sport. You're responsible for your own life. So make the effort to educate yourself about what's actually going on in the outside world. Knowledge is power.

Larry Culbertson


Tri-cities realist

Just seeing if I'm blocked

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