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David Sirota
David Sirota
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Country First


Let's say that you enjoyed watching last week's Republican National Convention on television.

Let's say you drank in the almost uniformly white faces and the regimented revivalism, you clapped when speakers belittled Barack Obama's work organizing impoverished communities, indeed, you cheered with Rudy Giuliani's zinger, "Drill, baby, drill!"

Let's further stipulate that you were not at all discomfited by the convention's incessant "Country First" mantra that defines loyalty to America as lockstep fealty to the Republican Party.

Let's say — for sheer argument's sake, of course — all of this is true. What, then, of the substance? Stripping away the partisanship, passion and propaganda, what about the veracity of the claim that the GOP puts this country first?

Well, let's just say it's a little dicey.

On national security, the Republican Party advocates continuing to force thousands of young Americans to risk life and limb refereeing Iraq's civil war. Though the party's slogan hearkens back to conservatives' "America First" isolationism, the GOP nonetheless supports spending $12 billion a month on the war — money needed at home.

Same story on economics. In 2004, the Republican White House called outsourcing "a plus." In 2006, the Republican commander-in-chief okayed the sale of critical infrastructure to foreign dictators. And today the Republican presidential nominee is demanding more NAFTA-style trade pacts that eliminate American jobs. This, says the GOP, is putting our country first.

But who is the "country"? According to the Census Bureau, it will soon be mostly non-whites. That is, the demographic groups who the alleged "country first" party regularly disparages, whether Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) yearning for a return to segregation, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) scapegoating Latinos, Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) celebrating Japanese internment, President Bush genuflecting to Bob Jones University's white supremacists, or Ronald Reagan echoing bigoted rallying cries at the scene of Mississippi race murders.

Maybe, you insist in your post-convention fervor, I just don't get it.

Maybe "country first" really does mean refereeing foreign civil wars, spending billions overseas while cutting domestic programs, exporting jobs and bashing ethnic groups that will soon comprise the majority of the nation.

But I don't think so. More likely, Republicans have simply taken the famous parable to heart — the one about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels.

As a political strategy, it's not stupid. Following the Bush-DeLay-Abramoff era, many Americans rightly think Republican politicians are scoundrels. And so those politicians are trying to make sure "this election is not about issues," as John McCain's campaign manager said this week, but about a hideous hypernationalism only Joe McCarthy could love. Employing flag pins, war stories and Bible-thumping social conservatism, former P.O.W. McCain and Christian fundamentalist Sarah Palin hope their red-white-and-blue phantasmagoria will hypnotize America into voting Republican.

Such desperation leads to seeming incoherence at times. For instance, when anti-war protestors at the GOP convention demanded lawmakers actually put country first by bringing the troops home, Republican delegates responded like an entranced mob of cultists, mindlessly chanting "U.S.A."

Then again, in the Karl Rove age, every televised scene — no matter how absurd — is part of sculpting an election victory with a mallet of jingoism and a chisel of intolerance.

On the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, the Republican convention reminds us of what Barry Goldwater suggested 44 years ago: Terrorists are not the only ones who believe extremism is “no vice.” And, as the old aphorism warns, when the most virulent extremism attacks our country, it won't be shrouded in Islamic fatwas - it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

Sadly, the when is now. McCain is the flag, Palin is the cross — and Americans will have to decide whether we believe their zealotry puts country first.

David Sirota is a bestselling author whose newest book, "The Uprising," was just released in June of 2008. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network — both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at



2 Comments | Post Comment
There's not a single paragraph in Sirota's vacuuous column that doesn't contain a gross distortion or outright lie.
From the complete misrepresentation of McCain's exhortation of "country first" to misquoting and misrepresenting the words of Barry Goldwater, this column is a steaming pile of manure worthy of a half-wit, brainwashed Josef Goebbels (National Socialist Party).
When McCain said, "Country first", he said that in the context of castigating those, including Republicans, who put personal and party power and position first. Sirota's attempt to represent this as meaning that one must put the Republican party first is as dishonest as it is conceptually absurd.
Sirota's representation of Barry Goldwater's words is an outright lie! Goldwater did NOT simply say, extremism is "no vice", as Sirota so dishonestly put it. Nor did Goldwater suggest anything that compares even remotely to Islamo-Fascism and terrorism, as Sirota so slanderously wrote. Barry Goldwater said exactly, "...I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!" This is hardly somthing that can be compared to driving airliners into buildings full of innocent non-combatants or burying women up to their waists and stoning them to death for winking at a strange man, or other such 'transgressions'.
In case Sirota and similarly afflicted boobs don't know it, the money we spend defending this nation is Constutionally mandated. The things for which Sirota thinks is that money is "needed at home" are NOT Constutionally mandated, and in fact are usually in direct violation of the Constitution, especially the Tenth Amendment.
We are NOT refereeing a civil war, as Sirota and other typical socialist twits like to say about Iraq. Iraq is NOT a separate war. It is just one strategic front in a wider war against a murderous, primitive, worldwide movement to destroy modern civilization in favor of a world Islamic Caliphate. In Iraq, our valorous fighting men and women are close to the completion of securing a nation from a hostile, world supporter of terrorism into a friendly nation. And yes, despite not finding them at the moment of the invasion, Iraq DID have WMD, and we DID recently find and secure 500 kilograms of enriched uranium designated for Saddam's weapon development program.
Now I understand that Sirota is a socialist, and that socialism is a complete failure and the most murderous ideology in history (over 200 million dead thanks to socialism in all its forms), and that Sirota cannot promote his ideology without lying. But Sirota must be pretty stupid to come up with such easily demonstrable falsehoods!
I could easily dissect and demonstrate the rest of the falacies and lies that comprise Sirota's column, but I have a real job, unlike Sirota, that I must get back to.
And speaking of socialism, why does Sirota have to call himself "progressive"? Why can't he come out and call himself a Marxist, as he clearly is? Oh yeah, I just wrote why: because socialism is a lie. A very cruel and worthless lie!
Comment: #1
Posted by: rueben
Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:33 PM
Oh, brother! This is pitiful. At least not be so obvious when laying out your Democrat Talking Points. At least come across as putting some of your own thoughts into your reasoning behind why you hate Republicans.
Comment: #2
Posted by: dgates
Sat Sep 13, 2008 2:48 PM
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