Editor's note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House. For another view on taxes, read here
Paul Begala says April 15 is the one day the government asks us to sacrifice for the greater good.
(CNN) -- Happy Patriots' Day. April 15 is the one day a year when our country asks something of us -- or at least the vast majority of us.
For those who wear a military uniform, those who serve the rest of us as policemen and firefighters and teachers and other public servants, every day is patriots' day. They work hard for our country; many risk their lives -- and some lose their lives.
But for the rest of us, the civilian majority, our government asks very little. Except for April 15. On this day, our government asks that we pay our fair share of taxes to keep our beloved country strong and safe.
Freedom isn't free. That's what the courageous World War II veterans of the American Legion taught me back in Texas Boys State decades ago. That phrase had special meaning for them. Those guys had seen buddies blown apart at Anzio or Guadalcanal.
I grew up in a different era. There was no draft, and while I have friends and family members who joined the military, most of my peers, like me, opted for the security and prosperity of the private sector.
This country has showered me with the blessings of liberty. So what do I owe my country in return? Paying my fair share of taxes, it seems, is the least I can do. Thanks to President Obama and the Democratic Congress, 95 percent of Americans will get a tax cut this year. No one -- not even the wealthiest 1 percent -- will have to pay higher income taxes until 2011.
So why are a bunch of Fox News clowns and right-wing cranks hosting "tea parties" all over the country? The Boston Tea Party, in case the clods at Fox didn't know it, protested "taxation without representation." Note the second word: without. The goofballs tossing tea bags today have representation. They voted in the election; they lost.
That a bunch of overpaid media millionaires would lead a faux-populist revolt is comical. They somehow held their populist instincts in check as George W. Bush and the Republicans cut taxes on the idle rich and put the screws to the working stiffs.
Bush's tax policies were a godsend to the Paris Hilton class, but they sent the country on the road to bankruptcy and helped ruin the economy. But now that we the people have decided to set things right, now that we've hired Obama to fix the mess conservatives created, now they're protesting?
Give me a break. Instead of tossing tea bags for the cameras, the Fox phonies ought to go to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There they would find better, braver men who have truly sacrificed for their country. They deserve nothing but the best -- not the shameful and shoddy conditions they endured during the Bush administration. iReport.com: Share your thoughts on taxes and tea parties
You want something to protest? How 'bout protesting how little we give back to our veterans? Or how 'bout protesting that the entire budget of the National Cancer Institute (where government researchers battle a disease that will strike half of all men and a third of all women) is 0.03 percent of what we gave the bandits at American International Group alone? Oh, but veterans benefits and cancer research might cost money. It might require -- dare I say it? -- paying taxes.
If the whiners at Fox News want to advertise their selfishness, they are free to do so. But please don't dress it up as patriotism. Patriotism is putting your country ahead of yourself -- which is the precise opposite of what the tea party plutocrats are doing.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul Begala.
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