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The Most Unpatriotic American

Dear Editor:

What would you call a person who terrorizes about one-half of the United States Congress and thereby blocks solutions to festering issues like joblessness, crumbling infrastructure, gaping budget deficits, poverty for millions, neglect of the environment and opposing measures to slow global warming?

There is no generic name for such a person, but there is a man named Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. He has stated something like, "I want to shrink the US government to fit into a bathtub from which it can be flushed down the drain."

Norquist uses an effective tool for getting his way. He cajoles or coerces Republican representatives and senators to sign a pledge never to vote for raising taxes. Should a signer weaken in this resolve, Norquist recruits a candidate to oppose the renegade in the next election, and Norquist then generously supports this challenger with funds, either directly or with the assistance of deep-pocketed allies.

The tool works because to many legislators electoral defeat must be avoided like a brain tumor or pancreatic cancer. Nothing else matters as much - reelection is everything. Never mind the fate of the country or the fate of people "on the other side". The consequences of such dedication are devastating for our country and deeply destructive for millions of Americans.

Patriotism, simply defined, is love of country, especially of its people. Devotion to abstractions such as "the flag" or "the Constitution" or "the past" may be sincere, but it's a poor substitute for "love of the American people." It is people who built this nation, people who settled our continent, people who built the infrastructure and defended the country against its enemies. Norquist's philosophy focuses on maintaining and improving the economic well being of people who already are well off. To accomplish this, Norquist and his followers are willing to ride roughshod over millions who are less fortunate. Norquist's followers readily denigrate people who try to climb the ladder to a better life. Herman Kane, one of the 2012 Republican presidential aspirants, preached, "If you are not rich, it's your own fault."

ParalyzIng the legislative and executive branches of the government hurts millions of people who are the fabric of our nation, people who work and strive daily and are essential to the functioning of our nation. It's instructive to watch the weekly lists of casualties of our wars. So many of the fallen victims come from hometowns where opportunities are scarce for youngsters, where joining the Armed Forces opens a path to a career, albeit one that entails risks of losing health, limbs and life in wars far from home.

People from less advantaged backgrounds are hurt most by our Congress' paralysis due to the Republicans' insistence on keeping taxes low for the rich, thereby blocking legislation for creating jobs.

It's shamelessly unpatriotic, and Grover Norquist, more than any other American, is responsible for this.

Cordially,

Emil B. Rechsteiner

Boston Road

Groton Herald

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