4 Allegiance to Liberty It is the dual meaning of the term “patriot” and the accompanying political violence justified in the name of patriotism to which this study addresses itself. The former definition embodies the notion to which most Americans would associate the word “patriot.” It is commonly believed that a patriot is one who loves their country and who would fight to defend its values, principles, and physical borders. This was the patriot of Mel Gibson’s movie. The second definition of patriot, how- ever, has always walked hand in hand with the first. A patriot may be one who is a “disturber” of government. A founding principle of the American Republic was limited government. There are individuals and groups both in the past and in the present who have deemed it their patriotic duty to hold the U.S. government to account and require it to fulfill the limited role upon which it was founded. Though they may be thought of as “disturbers,” these individuals are, in their minds, pro- tectors of the true values of the United States. Therefore, they are the true “patriots” because they do indeed love their country beyond what others do, particularly in the presence of an overbearing and interloping government. The zealotry with which patriots act as disturbers of government sometimes manifests itself in violence across the decades. From Shays’ Rebellion to the Whiskey Insurrection to the Bonus March to the rise of militia and patriot groups in the 1980s and 1990s, the common thread among these self-proclaimed patriots has been a distrust of government, its actions, and its inability to fulfill its obligations under an idealized version of the meaning of the American Republic. As noted by author Richard Abanes, the more committed individuals such as these display the following characteristics: “an obsessive suspicion of their govern- ment a deep-seated hatred and fear of federal authorities a belief in far-reaching conspiracy theories and a feeling that for all intents and purposes Washington bureaucrats have discarded the U.S. Constitution.”8 Yet as sinister as these characteristics seem, for the patriot they embody the same ideal: an overwhelming love of government and a desire to return government to an idealized, pristine version of the past. As a result of the reelection of President Barack Obama in November 2012, the political cause of the patriot was reinvigorated. In the after- math of the election, political leaders in some 15 American states indicated the desire of their states to secede from the Union. During the off-cycle elections of 2013, one state—Colorado—saw 11 counties include “secession” from the state as an item on their ballots. According to the Denver Post, “Proponents say they have become alienated from the more urbanized Front Range and are unhappy with laws passed
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