Watching the Super Bowl for the first time in a decade and I’m touched by the nationalism being “rammed down our throats” (quoting Boehner). There was a touching commercial with the Kennedy quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” I have no idea what the commercial was for.
Given my understanding of the mindset of the modern conservative, I’m pretty sure this statement makes Kennedy a socialist. Wouldn’t a conservative say that being asked to do anything that isn’t for yourself (or your family) an infringement on your liberty? Perhaps you’ll do something for your beer league softball team or your church, but especially not for your country. We know “community activism” is for socialists like Obama, the peace corps is for hippie do-gooders, and political activism outside of electoral politics is frowned upon generally. Making an American think about doing anything outside of his/her own jouissance is considered an assault on freedom — that is, the freedom to not care about your wider community.
For American conservatives I think this is better: ask not what you can do for your country (unless you’re poor, in which case, join the army!), ask how your country and government can cut your taxes and make you feel good about yourself.