Dissent is patriotic | PostIndependent.com

Dissent is patriotic

Ryan Conrad

Dear Editor,

In a democracy decisions are made by the people. In this country we have nearly 300 million different opinions to reconcile and consider in order to make decisions. This task requires an active debate between diverse and often conflicting points of view (including the majority of Americans who did not vote for Bush).

I was startled that Mr. Doran’s 12/3 letter would criticize one of the most important features of a democratic system. What Mr. Doran interpreted as negativism or “Bush bashing” is merely the healthy pulse of a functioning democracy. In order for Americans to make informed decisions we need to be exposed to a wealth and variety of information and opinions. Our media, and particularly our local media, plays a crucial role in allowing people to voice their opinions and, yes, even criticize the government.

It is perfectly acceptable to criticize the opinions of others but when you attack the rights of others to voice their opinions you are attacking one of the fundamental American freedoms, the right to free speech. One of the beauties of living in a democracy is that you have the right to disagree with people. I have friends and loved ones of all political stripes, and though I may vehemently disagree with them, I always respect their right to hold their own opinion.

I would like to remind Mr. Doran that there are plenty of countries that stifle public discourse and prohibit criticism of the government: China, North Korea, Stalin’s USSR, Hitler’s Germany, Iraq. Our freedoms are what make us American.

Nearly 230 years ago this country was created by individuals who rose up against their government to create a system built upon the ideals of freedom. In the nearly 230 years that have followed people brave enough to challenge the status quo have created the realization of American ideals through their pursuit of justice. They abolished slavery, they abolished child labor, they abolished the 14-hour workday, and they fought to give all Americans equal rights. Criticizing the status quo to progress and improve our nation is an American tradition. Dissent is patriotic.

Dissent is American. The moment we cease to criticize and hold our government accountable is the day we shall lay our democracy to rest.

Thank you,

Ryan Conrad

Glenwood Springs

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