How We React When We’re Outsiders


One line from Mark Patinkin’s latest Providence Journal column strikes a strange chord.  He writes about how he was a national anthem protester (in spirit, anyway) when he was young, feeling as if the United States was “a country where our voice was ignored.”  As he grew up and work took him around the world to un-free places, he came to appreciate his country more.  The NFL kneelers brought the echo of his youth back to his ears:

I remembered how I’d once felt.

And realized those kneeling today feel as I once did — that their voices are ignored by their country.

What’s curious is that those of us on the other side of the ideological divide felt a lot like that for eight long years under the reign of President Barack Obama, when the IRS and other agencies were targeting us to prevent our organizations from being able to change electoral outcomes in a sea of double standards — always against us — from the news media to the Department of Justice.

And what did we do?  We held community readings of the Declaration of Independence and read it with even more feeling each year.

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I’ve never had cause to travel to the hostile countries that Patinkin has experienced, so something else must explain the difference.  It seems there’s come more fundamental distance between progressives (latter day “liberals”) and conservatives (truly “classical liberals”).

When progressives feel like “their voices are ignored by their country,” they protest the country.  Their entire attitude is that there is something wrong with the country.  When conservatives feel like the institutions of their country have turned against them, they protest that contrast to the country’s ideals.

I don’t write this to be divisive, but if you blame the country any time your side is over the line in the political tug of war, you can’t see the rest of us as countrymen of yours who’ve gotten something wrong.  You must see us as the enemy and our political victories as something more like invasion.  Otherwise, you’d see that your country isn’t ignoring you; your countrymen are just disagreeing with you.

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