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Creating and joining civic groups to encourage people to get active in politics and civic life is a good thing, period. But some groups seem almost to be asking for some qualifiers to that – often, these days, when they presume to be speaking for people they’re not really speaking for.

Case in point today is We the People Vancouver, a politically-oriented group operating in Clark County. There’s some overlap and issue congruence with the Tea Party groups – the viewpoint generally can be described as conservative ideological, not greatly different from the Tea Party – but this one is distinctive on several levels, indicates an interest in a broader range of issues, and has gotten active in interviewing and presumably backing candidates. (Mainly Republicans show up; one of the founders is himself a Republican candidate for office.) About 80 to 100 people show up at a typical meeting.

All of which is just good civic activism, save for this: Their name. “We the People Vancouver” as a group name carries a presumption that this core of 80 to 100 people are acting and speaking on behalf of – or in concert with – all of the people of Clark County. Politically, Clark is deeply split, home to elected officials both liberal and conservative. How could any group with a clearly-defined point of view claim to speak for them all?

Toward the bottom of their website, you’ll see this organizational note: “We The People of Vancouver / SW Washington are part of the coalition forming” Go there, to the “Washington Patriot Hub,” which describes itself as a “communications hub” for conservatives, and you get another variation of this: Presumably, those whose ideology matches up with the groups involved are “patriots,” and those who see things differently are . . . not.

Sooner or or later, the whole matter of saying that only believers in an often extreme ideology are patriots or “we the people,” ought to be addressed more broadly. A lot of very patriotic Americans are being deeply insulted, day in and day out, by this kind of thing. And many of them don’t even know it . . .

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