Where I am coming from...
Everyone has a value system that he/she uses to interpret events and determine right from wrong. I find it necessary to describe mine to help you know where I am coming from.
Christians use the lessons of the Bible to determine Christian values; Jews use the Torah; Moslems use the Quran… etc. So where do American patriots get their often-heard-about American values? The answer I reckon is from the constitution of the United States. The Bill of Rights
specifically embodies those values. For example, an American can claim to be a US citizen, but cannot call him/her self an American patriot and oppose freedom of speech or freedom of religion, because those liberties are fundamental rights that describe the liberties and freedoms guaranteed in our Founding documents.
In a nutshell, the set of values embodied in the constitution of the United States is the value system that I will use to interpret events and decide where I stand. If that makes me “Liberal” for defending the side of civil liberties, so be it. If that makes me idealistic, then you are calling Jefferson and Madison unrealistic and foolhardy as well. I hope to stay above the labeling game and focus on the issues.