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At party conventions, 2 views of patriotism

By Connie Cass

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Sept. 6 2012 10:00 a.m. MDT

Vice President Joe Biden, left, walks out with a stage manager for a microphone check in preparation for his speech at the Democratic National Convention early Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C.

David Goldman, Associated Press

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When the Democrats and Republicans trot out their patriotism onstage, it can sound like they love two different nations.

Mom, apple pie and the American dream, it seems, can justify almost any policy: Higher taxes on the wealthy or lower taxes on the wealthy. Strengthening the social safety net or reducing dependency on government. Legal abortion or an end to abortion.

Here's a look at some of the contrasting views of freedom and the American way expressed by speakers at the Republican convention last week in Tampa, Fla., and this week's Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.:

TAXING WEALTHY AMERICANS

—The American free enterprise system "is dedicated to creating tomorrow's prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today's." — Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

—"Being asked to pay your fair share isn't class warfare — it's patriotism." — Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker.

SAFETY NET PROGRAMS

—"Under President Obama, the dream of freedom and opportunity has become a nightmare of dependency with almost half of America receiving some government benefit." — Rick Santorum, former senator and Republican primary candidate.

—"We believe that government has a role to play, not in solving every problem in everybody's life but in helping people help themselves to the American dream." — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

ROLE OF BUSINESS

—Republicans champion entrepreneurs who start businesses large and small. Romney "helped start businesses and turn around failing ones. By the way, being successful in business - that's a good thing," said Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

—Democrats applaud small businesses and workers but sometimes admonish corporations and Wall Street. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke of "big banks that brought our economy to its knees" and "the insurance companies that were ripping us off." He praised the auto bailouts for saving "more than a million American jobs in an important, iconic industry."

CENTRAL PLANNING

—"When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself. That's what we do in this country. That's the American Dream. That's freedom, and I'll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners." — Paul Ryan.

—"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business — you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet." — President Barack Obama in a July 13 campaign appearance; his words were mocked at the Republican convention. Obama speaks at the Democratic convention Thursday night.

ABORTION

—"I thank God that America still has one party that reaches out their hands in love to lift up all of God's children — born and unborn — and says that each of us has dignity and all of us have the right to live the American Dream." — Rick Santorum.

—"We believe that freedom means keeping government out of our most private affairs, including out of a woman's decision whether to keep an unwanted pregnancy and everybody's decision about whom to marry." — Deval Patrick.

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