Editor’s Note: The soft-on-terror charge against Democrats was a winner for Republicans in the years after the 9/11 attacks but hasn’t resonated as well in the last two election cycles. Still, the GOP apparently thinks there’s some mileage left in the old smear, so it’s coming out again for Election 2010.

However, some rank-and-file Americans – like Lynne Gillooly of North Carolina – are fed up with the political expectation that voters will respond again to fear, as she says in this guest essay:

The country that once stood heroically against Hitler’s Third Reich is now so enveloped in fear that we readily sacrifice our rights and freedom to combat an enemy whose main goal is to incite fear.

We have helped them succeed by listening to the likes of Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney, Sean Hannity and Bill Kristol. Their message is essentially to convince us to cower in fear so the big Military Industrial Complex can take care of us.

Benjamin Franklin, a Founder who recognized that the American revolutionaries were facing a true life-or-death struggle and must “all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately,” also said, “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Today, a different breed of American “leaders” has helped the terrorists succeed by going on talk radio, Fox News and many other venues to scare us into believing that not only do we need to sacrifice our own rights and freedoms to combat this enemy, but we need to strip our enemy of basic human rights as well.

These “leaders” tell us that it is necessary to set aside fundamental American principles and the rule of law that our veterans fought and died for.

Under George W. Bush, we accepted illegal wiretapping of citizens without FISA warrants, the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, all in the name of “national security.” We also let Bush gut the Geneva Conventions, which set standards for the treatment of all prisoners, including American captives.

These “leaders” also assured us that the billions of dollars going into the pockets of privatized defense contractors through bloated no-bid contracts were vital for our own safety. Meanwhile, they cut corners on funding for veterans’ benefits, labeling them “too generous.”

How has it come to this? It seems to me that the Republican Party has lost its way. They serve different constituents than the people who voted for them.

During the Bush-Cheney administration, the Republicans failed at managing the economy; they failed at being fiscal conservatives; they are touting themselves now as deficit conscious after eight years of overseeing massive federal deficits; and they are returning to their best weapon for regaining power — scare tactics.

They are again playing the “soft on terror” card as they did in 2002 and every election since then. They are doing so even at the expense of U.S. principles and rule of law.

The American people need to remind these "leaders" that this is still the country that our veterans, past and present, valiantly fought and died for. This is still the United States of America. This is still, as our anthem proclaims loud and clear, The Land of The Brave.

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