Let's put the symbols and platitudes aside for a moment.
Let's also start from a common ground of understanding that actions speak louder than words.
Now, let's look at the act of caring for the United States of America. Actually caring which often requires suppressing instant gratification for the good of the entire republic.
That last characteristic is is damn short supply.
Politics has become all about "winning" not governing. When winning becomes an end in itself, it is a selfish, self-indulgent act of betrayal.
Those who place winning at the top find ways to justify bias, distortion and outright lies. That betrays the truth.
When loyalty to a political party, party line or single political cause rises above loyalty to the United States, that betrays every citizen.
When winning becomes the ultimate political goal, the act of governing the country, of hammering out solutions, falls by the wayside. That betrays the very idea of America.
In this polluted political atmosphere of dishonesty, it's small wonder that the first thing that winning candidates do the day after election day is to begin raising money and plotting the next winning strategy.
Little wonder that the percentage of eligible voters who actually cast a ballot has plummeted.
Little wonder that the burning issues of the electorate never find solutions. Hell, a Congressman or Senator can't actually cast a vote to do the right thing: the party whip is there to coerce compliance with the official ideology.
Perhaps even more importantly, every vote has to be cast (or the member conveniently absent) with an eye on whether this is a "winning" vote or one which could be spun to an opponent's campaign advantage.
The same points apply in spades to the demagogues and flame-meisters behind partisan blogs, irrational independent committees and ideological militants.
The political insurgents on both extremes have effectively "Iraq-ized" America. Like fanatical Shiites and Sunnis, their stock in trade includes verbal car bombs and a relentless parade of suicide bloggers whose every blast polarizes and poisons any attempt at good intentions or collaboration for the good of the country.
Intolerance never breeds tolerance.
Intemperate speech never breeds discussion.
Polarization never creates solutions.
Liberty and justice for all demand cooperation and self-sacrifice on the part of every individual.
The good of the country demands that politicians and their acolytes refrain from the next polemical paroxysm of invective.
Stop. Think. Do the right thing. For once.