The Left and patriotism

RJLipkin at RJLipkin at
Fri Jan 27 15:41:33 PST 2006

In a message dated 1/27/2006 5:39:37 PM Eastern Standard Time,  
VOLOKH at writes:

But if one just thinks that the Bush  Administration has done a lousy job -- 
or violated FISA or claimed  constitutional powers that it wasn't entitled to 
or violated the Free Speech  Clause by closing immigration proceedings to the 
media -- and calls for  secession because he finds it impossible to wait for 
two more years to see if  maybe the Democrats can win 51% instead of 48%, then 
it seems to me that one  shouldn't (and shouldn't even want to) call oneself a 
patriotic  American.

It strikes that this  argument founders on this question: To what must a 
patriotic American  must be committed to qualify as patriotic. Unless the object 
of the commitment  is identified and its parameters delineated, we will 
continue to talk past one  another.
        Further, Eugene's example  of  someone wanting to succeed out of 
impatience for a change that might  occur in two years is a straw man [sic 
person].  A person wanting to secede  now in light of the present the 
administration's reconstruction of executive  power--if that's what happening or if it is 
believed to be happening--probably  bases his or her conviction on empirical 
claims about the possibility of change  in two years, not just an inability to 
wait. These empirical claims may or  may not be true, but to suggest the advocacy 
of secession is motivated merely by  impatience is to present a caricatures 
of the claim, not a serious version  of the claim itself.
        Again, before we make sense  of "American patriotism" and how it 
should be used in contemporary debate, the  object of the patriotic commitment 
must be specified.  Is it the present  government? The Revolution? The 
Constitution? National Defense? American  culture? The continuing entity known as the 
United States whatever that is?  Nostalgic feelings of the idea of America as 
inculcated in us in  childhood?  What?  The intuitive notion of "American 
patriotism" needs  serious explication before its use in calling someone a patriot 
(or not) is  analytically and politically useful. 

Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener  University School of Law
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Conlawprof mailing list