No, that's not patriotism

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Freshmen legislators are to be seen and not heard, is that it?

Or is it that legislators who don't take a hard-line, fist-clenching, spittle-spewing stance on one emotional issue suddenly deserve zero support from their party?

Conservatives who claim to have learned painful but important lessons from just a few months ago might want to step back and analyze how well they're doing in applying those lessons.

You'd think that after Democrats were dancing in the streets last November with President Obama's stunningly easy victory and his party holding serve in Congress, conscientious Republicans would enlarge their platform to accommodate more perspectives - and not coincidentally, more voters. You'd think the thumping with thorny sticks would give way to the offering of more olive branches, that more listening and less talking would be the order of the day. You might even think that the wiser and healthier course of seeking alternatives rather than issuing ultimata would be more diligently pursued.

But no. Fury with all things Obama still overheats the kettle on the Republican stove to the point that the whistling and screaming of the steam drowns out rational discussion. Disagree with freshman Rep. Luke Malek on the health exchange issue, if you will, but demonize him because he dared to think independently, research vigorously and offer a workable way for Idaho to go forward with an unsavory mandate? That's hard to justify.

Differences over policy are nothing new, but unbridled anger and threats are still no substitute for vigorous debate. If you listen you will hear more and more Republicans in North Idaho saying they not only disagree with some of the most important planks of their party, but they don't even recognize the party they once embraced.

And please, don't play the patriot card as an excuse for all the vituperation. Hate your president, hate your Supreme Court, hate anything and anybody you wish, but remember that by definition, a patriot is one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests. Do we also need to define "authority?"

Whatever it is that elected officials like Malek are offering, we want more of it, not less.

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