A local cornered me at the Floyd County Store recently and, in an angry voice, wanted to know “why you support that black bastard Obama.”

It’s not the first time I’ve run into racism here or elsewhere in this country. I’m sure it won’t be the last. His next comment was, sadly, also something I’ve heard too often..

“John McCain is a real American,” he said. “He loves America. Obama hates America. He and his liberal buddies aren’t patriots.”

Listen to the partisan propaganda from both sides of the political spectrum and you find that each think they have a monopoly on patriotism and love of country.

But partisans, be they Republicans or Democrats, aren’t patriots. They don’t love their country. They love their party, their narrow piece of life through a slanted political bias, their hatred and disregard for anything and anyone that doesn’t agree with their myopic view of the world.

This is not a new phenomenon. Author Horatio King warned that partisanship overshadowed patriotism in his book, Patriotism vs. Partisanship, published in 1900 — 108 years ago.

In 1796, George Washington, in his Presidential farewell address, warned the country about the danger of political parties:

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

Like too many lessons of history, Americans ignored Washington’s wise advice. Now we have a party-dominated electoral system where the interests of the powerful special interest groups that control each party’s agenda are placed ahead of the interests of the nation. Political partisans base their beliefs on the fantasy that their views are superior to others and the only views worth considering. In such an atmosphere, unity and elected officials with a true love of country are impossible dreams.

I have a sticker on one of my motorcycle helmets. It reads:

I’m not a Democrat.

I’m not a Republican.

I’m an American.

There is a difference.

Damn right there is a difference. And, by the way, I’ve not decided who, if anyone, I support in the 2008 Presidential circus.