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Commentary: Do candidates like America as well as love it?

Last year I pointed out on this Opinion page that a local liberal legislator wasn't familiar enough with our Constitution to even be aware that it begins with the words "We the People." This Democrat could not refute my point and so resorted to accusing me of challenging his patriotism.

As you know, patriotism simply means to love your country. It would not be correct to assume that just because someone disagrees with you politically that they do not have fondness or passion for their country.

But the real question we need to be asking is not whether a candidate loves their country but whether they like it. Do they like the ideals on which our country was founded? Do they like our form of government? When a candidate approaches you to ask for your vote this fall, I suggest asking if they like America.

Do they like the Great American Experiment of self-government launched by our founders or do they see Americans as sheep, helpless on our own and dependent on government for our every need?

Do they like and believe in American Exceptionalism? Or would they agree with President Obama's statement that he believes in this concept the same way that Brits believe in British Exceptionalism and Greeks believe in Greek Exceptionalism (which is to say, that he doesn't believe in it at all)?

Do they like our country's free enterprise system or would they prefer an economy depressed by stifling taxation, oppressive regulation and income redistribution?

Do they like the strict constitutional limits placed on federal power by our Constitution and its 10th Amendment, or do they attempt to usurp more and more of the powers reserved to the states and to the people?

Do they like the tradition of the American Dream or are their actions enslaving our children and grandchildren in insurmountable debt?

Do they like our legacy of allowing ventures to succeed or fail based on their own merits, or would they prefer to hold down the successful and bailout the failures?

Do they like that our nation has been a melting pot in which we integrate immigrants into our unique American culture? Or do they seek to separate us into groups of hyphenated Americans, divided based on our nationality, culture, gender and skin color?

Do they like it that our nation won the crucial struggle against communist aggression and the Cold War? Or are they on the side of a president who makes friends with communist thugs such as Hugo Chavez and has appointed at least one self-avowed Marxist?

Do they like our Second Amendment or do they work to chip away the edges of our fundamental right to keep and bear arms?

Do they like the First Amendment or do they support the currently proposed DISCLOSE Act, which would curtail free speech rights of groups of citizens such as the Tea Party organizations?

Do they like that our country has been the hope of immigrants yearning to breathe free or do they seek to make America more like the failing European socialist states from which many of these immigrants escaped?

Do they like that our country is the world's lone superpower or are they in favor of our president touring the planet to apologize for our strength and greatness?

To sum it up, liberal politicians asking for your vote may love our country, but do they like it? Do they like those ideals on which it was founded and on which it has endured these 233 years? Or would they like to see America "fundamentally changed," as our president promised five days before his election?

This November, vote for candidates who like America. Our freedom and constitutional republic depend upon it.

Ken Cobb is chairman of the Beltrami County Republican Party.