If threatening force against duly elected members of Congress is called “patriotism,” you might be living in George Orwell’s “1984.”

If they call it “censorship” when the government doesn’t force a private entity to publish something, you might be living in “1984.”

If winning a majority of lawful votes is called “stealing the election,” you might be living in “1984.”

If police using minimal force against a violent mob are called “traitors,” you might be living in “1984.”

If “preserving our freedoms” means contesting the results of free and fair elections, you might be living in “1984.”

If it’s “conservative” to argue in defense of an insurrection, you might be living in “1984.”

If it’s “liberal” to do the same things that have always been done during a presidential transition, you might be living in “1984.”

If it’s “leadership” to rile up thousands of supporters to the point they’re chanting calls to hang the vice president — yes, that actually happened — you might be living in “1984.”

And if people warning against socialism constantly cite a novel written by a democratic socialist about the evils of totalitarianism, you just might be living in “1984.”

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, we felt it appropriate here to highlight today’s counterparts to the linguistic gymnastics of the oppressive Ingsoc regime of Orwell’s novel “1984,” published more than 70 years ago.

Instances like these abound demonstrating irresponsible and indefensible mischaracterization of important principles of political science. Terms like patriotism, freedom and leadership have been turned on their heads, and it’s time we set things straight.

Real patriotism is not “my country, right or wrong” — in fact, that’s “a thing that no patriot would think of saying,” author G.K. Chesterton, an influence on C.S. Lewis, once wrote. Patriotism means commitment to the ideals our nation was founded on, even when our nation hasn’t lived up to them. It means upholding, not tearing down, the governing structures that our founders put in place, and if you happen to think the people occupying elected positions need removed, patriotism means using the means built into those established governing structures to remove those people — not breaking into legislative chambers and dragging people out by force. Violence is the way of totalitarianism, not republican self-government.

Whether we like it or not, President Donald Trump lost the election fair and square. Elections officials from both parties, in every contested state, have said so. Trump’s own top cybersecurity appointee said so, days before he was fired for speaking up. Every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said so in reiterating the military’s commitment to upholding the Constitution. Judges across the country have said so — including U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, a Trump appointee who led a chapter of the conservative Federalist Society when he was a law student. Anyone alleging the election was stolen is selling something. Don’t buy it.

Conservatism, whatever’s left of it, entails accepting the results of our recent elections regardless of our feelings about them. Freedom of speech means private entities, even monopolistic ones, have the right not to publish something they don’t want to. Law enforcement officers are patriots, not traitors, when they stand ready to give up their very lives to fulfill their lawful duties. And leadership means taking steps to surrender one’s authority when appropriate, rather than grasping onto it with every ounce of strength.

Jan. 6, 2021, was a black mark on America’s legacy of republican government. But we have the choice to reject the seditious actions committed that day. We have a chance at restoring our fellow citizens’ confidence in our commitment to constitutional government. We cannot squander it.


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