So what does it mean to be a Patriot?

I hear people throw this around in support of there personal beliefs and agendas constantly.   “If you’re a patriot you would support <insert political agenda here>”.  So what does it mean to be a “Patriot” then?  Let’s start with the definition:

patriot

1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and it’s interests with devotion.

2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.

3. (initial capital letter) Military. a U.S. Army antiaircraft missile with a range of 37 miles (60 km) and a 200-pound (90 kg) warhead, launched from a tracked vehicle with radar and computer guidance and fire control.

Ignoring the third definition which refers to the Patriot defense system,  a Patriot is a person who basically cares for and defends his country according to the first definition.  This would apply to general patriotism through the various nations.  We want to focus more on what that means in the United States which is where the second definitions comes in:

“a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.”

This really sums it up to me on what it means to be a Patriot in the United States.  A patriot is not necessarily a supporter of the government policies itself, but of the ideals the government is designed to reinforce.  So a Patriot of the United stands is somebody that love his country and defends the rights and liberties as defined by our constitution from all it’s enemies, including the federal government.   Here are a few reasons why:

1. This is what the Founders intended.  There are numerous quotes and articles made by our Founders and other great patriots through out our relatively short history on the nature of our republic.  Here are a few examples:

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” ~ Samuel Adams, speech in Philadelphia, 1776

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” ~ Benjamin Franklin, Reply to the Governor, Nov 11, 1755

Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty?” ~ Patrick Henry, Virginia Ratifying Convention,  June 5, 1788

2. This is what was stated in the Preamble and supported through the Constitution.  While the constitution clearly defines what specifically the government is allowed to do, it is also clear what it is not allowed to do and what rights are untouchable.  The preamble is also very clear as to what the purpose of it’s powers are to be used for.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

3. Love of country and love of the government are two different things.  Many times these two are directly opposed as the nature of government is in direct opposition to the nature of liberty.  Since the Constitution’s purpose,  in part, is to secure the blessings of liberty with specific rights being protected through the Bill of Rights, the conflict with government is inevitable.

 “And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” ~ Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith 1787

I think we can see that being a Patriot is not about supporting everything the federal government does blindly.  It is about understand what the purpose of our government is through the Constitution and the rights and liberties it is supposed to protect.  It is about standing against tyranny and our own government when they oppose the principle of our nation as defined by our founders through the Constitution.  Freedom and rights have always been easier to loose than gain and a true American Patriot always stands up when they are in jeopardy as our forefathers before us.

Please share your thoughts in the comments…

 

Sources:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/patriot?s=t

http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/tree-liberty-quotation

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

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