A Liberal’s Love for the United States: A Note on the Fourth of July

I’m never going to enjoy a Toby Keith song about America, nor demand that my neighbors “love or leave” this country. It’s unlikely that I will ever refer to an American media outlet as traitorous, or demand that we build a fenced wall between the United States and Mexico. I don’t believe that, this, or any country has been chosen by a higher power to lead the world, and I don’t believe that the United Nations is a global plot to strip the U.S. of its sovereignty. I do, however, love the United States.

I love America for what it aspires to be, and what is has the potential to become. The foundation of what this nation celebrates today, the Declaration of Independence, was more than a statement of revolution; it was a statement that governments exist to secure the rights of their citizens, and not to enrich and empower the few. That aspiration has been an inspiration for countless people, revolutionaries and dreamers, and a model for governments around the world for over 200 years.

I love America for its incredible diversity, for its commitment to the idea that our unmatched military might should be used for good, not dominance, its belief that every man and woman should have the opportunity to achieve his/her dreams, and its incredible optimism. I love America for its sense of community, its belief in civil rights and equality, and its capacity to be united.

And yet, we fall so short of some of those aspirations. Our government, like any human institution, often falls short of the aspirations that guide it, and sometimes even deliberately does wrong. With all of our power and all of our wealth, we sometimes fail to do what is in the best interest of the world, or even our own citizens. As someone who loves his country, I cannot be silent when  I believe we are on the wrong course. I cannot acquiesce when the government oversteps its power, or when it ignores its responsibility to the people it serves.

Liberal criticism of our nation’s policies is often mistaken or mischaracterized by the Right as hatred of America, or a desire to leave. Nothing could be further from the truth. We criticize the government because we believe it can be better, do more, and infringe less. Blind devotion to one’s country is not patriotism; it is nothing more than subservience that Jefferson would have despised.

The celebration of our independence isn’t limited to one side of the political spectrum. Patriotism isn’t about whose flag is flown higher or whose lapel pin is shinier; it’s about working together to make our nation what Jefferson and the other founders hoped it could be, an inspiration for the rest of the world:

The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

Have a wonderful Fourth.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • We are a great country. We have a great capacity for good. We have a great capacity for evil. And most of all, we have a great capacity to delude and decieve ourselves! We live on our myths. We are a nation of individuals, NOT individuals making up a nation. And this is a direct result of our mythology.

    We are much like Argentina which has had a saying for a long time. Buen pais, mal gobierno, which means good country, bad government.

    Born in 1951, this country is unrecognizable to guys like me. I had the privilege of growing up in the golden era of this country. But that is all gone now. The fascists won. This country, and democracy, died the day the CIA was born. And Truman actually feared as much, and he stated so.

    The American dream is dead. It was killed the day the CIA killed JFK. And then Robert too. That was our first coup. Shorty thereafter, the REAL criminal/fascist element was grought into our government. It was brought in by Nixon. This was something new. Reagan picked up the mantle and ran with it. And Bush institutionalized the fascists in the government by firing any vestigial contigent of folks that believed in good government and democracy. Now, what we are left with is institutionalized criminality and fascism. We are NOT a democracy. That is a myth.

    The really disheartening thing is the alacrity with which people in this country ignore the evil that this country does. For example, the rape of Fallujah was exactly what the Nazis did in Guernica! There’s a REASON that Cheney had the painting of Guernica removed from the UN before he would speak. The similarities were too great.

    We as a nation are unable to admit that our leaders are capable of great evil. And that’s a fatal flaw. The rest of the world knows though. Whereas we did indeed used to be a beacon of hope, we no longer are.

    So, do I love my country? Yes. I love much about our country. I was always thankful that I grew up when I did. Am I sorry to see what our country has become? Yes, for it didn’t have to be this way. We as a nation were unable and unwilling to believe that OUR elected leaders could be so evil. But they were. And as a result, we have done tremendous evil around the world. I’m am NOT proud of what our country has done to innocent countries around the world.

    When I was a kid, you could travel to nearly ANY country in the world and be admired simply because your were an American. But that is all gone now. Our leaders could travel anywhere in the world and be welcomef. Bush could NOT even go to London without having the entire city sealed off! What does that tell you?

    Our future was stolen from us. I don’t know if we’ll ever get it back. Hard to say. I’m not optimistic, for we seem to be further backwards all the time. And we seem to be losing at a fast rate our collective memory. When old guys like me are gone, I’m afraid it’s over for good. Hence, it’s important to remember that our country was not always like this. It WAS at one time full of promise and hope. But when you murder your dreamers, the dreams die too. How do we now get the criminal element out of our government when they have become so thoroughly entrenched? (War criminal henry kissinger appointed by bush to investigate 911?? Wow! Now THAT’S the fella for the job, right? Allen Dulles to investigate HIS murder of JFK? Works for me!)

    Buen pais, mal gobierno. As true for us as it is Argentina.

  • Why I love the United States of America?

    “As someone who loves his country, I cannot be silent when I believe we are on the wrong course. I cannot acquiesce when the government oversteps its power, or when it ignores its responsibility to the people it serves.”

    Because we don’t have to be silent or agree. More to the point, none of us do.

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