Montana Politics US Politics

Liberals Love The United States, Too: A Message for the Fourth

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 using bike lanes as part of 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.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • I see many, many assholes here in GF flying the freakin’ flag EVERY freakin’ day of the year as if their residence was some sort of federal building! And then a lot of fat ass bikers flying the flag from the backs of their bikes! I want to stop and ask these folks just WHAT freaking country do they think they live in? Is it REALLY necessary to fly the flag continuously? Do they need to remind themselves daily of what country they live in? Why? You see, when I was a kid, we flew the flag on the appropriate days as everyone ELSE did. There was none of this continuous, endless flag waving crappola. It’s sickening to me to see, for this is NOT patriotism at all, but nationalism. BIG difference! Patriotism is great, nationalism is VERY dangerous.

    Most people who fly the flag endlessly are really not very bright, nor do they know they’re history, nor do they possess critical thinking skills. When you begin to believe that your country can do no wrong, you view every evil that your country does as right! And just! THAT is not being a good citizen at all. That is NOT what America is supposed to be about! TRUE freedom demands an educated, informed, engaged citizenry! I’m not seein’ that in any of these mindless flag wavers. Bumper sticker, sound bite patriotism is WORSE than sunshine patriotism!

    I have asked the rightwingers for YEARS to explain just what they love about America so deeply, yet only ONE in all those years attempted an answer, and that was Tim Baldwin. Of course, his answer was simply nonsensical platitudes, but at least he tried. You see, in my opinion, you DON’T get to pick and choose what you love about the country. The country must be taken as a whole, and that means all the evils that have been done in the name of our country also.

  • Glad you can speak for liberals. Progressive, socialists, dissidents might think differently, anyway, my definition of an American liberal is a pro-war pro-austerity right winger who favors legal abortion and gay marriage.

    Wy so anxious to “love” a mere symbol? Why not just objectively agree or disagree on activities of the many varied interest In this country. After all, the vast majority here are without representation.

    • Glad to hear your fresh take, Mark. It’s always enlightening to hear your distinct opinion on so many subjects. Your diversity of thought is especially enlightening.

      • Please, Pogie, you did nothing but applause lines in this post. And then accuse me of having nothing news?

    • It’s remarkably amusing,Mark, that in a post that denies the Principle of the Excluded Middle, you would pigeonhole the writer as being a victim of it while supporting it yourself. The country is not a “mere symbol”. The Declaration of Independence, though very symbolic, was much much more than a mere symbol. A profession of love for where one lives doesn’t need to be justified to you.

      Please quit trying so hard to pigeonhole others into your fantasy of contradictions. I know you won’t, but I did have to ask.

      • Countries are groups of people held together by many things, including mythology. Americans deeply believe American myths. It’s our glue. Glasnost, or myth-busting, had much to do with fall of Soviets. A little truth would kill us too most likely.

        But pray tell, what country out there wants our corrupt political system, defective health and education systems, decaying infrastructure, our media (perhaps the worst on earth)? What we do best is weapons. If we’re not attacking someone, we fail. If our education system produces vigilant citizens, the military folds.

        Happy fourth, patriots!

        • Actually, Mark, Monsanto not withstanding, what this country does best is agriculture. It’s certainly not as sexy or destructive as the military industrial complex, but it is and almost always has been our forte.

  • Don, there is much to like in what you wrote. Thank you!

    As to securing the border between the US and Mexico, there is Section 4, Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution. It states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.” Our framers didn’t know what the challenges would be in our century but they are serious. Just Google Hispanic and Latin gangs. I believe Arizona did petition the federal government for help from the invasion of criminal gangs and the violence they have brought. All they have received is a yawn reply. That violence has killed 10’s of 1000’s of people in Mexico by the same criminal elements. Secure borders function to minimize that ingress. Immigration policy functions to manage the orderly welcoming of just folks coming here.

    Thank you again for writing this post.

    • Craig, you might want to do some Googeling of your own. Since Arizona petitioned the US for relief in 2009 (continuance to 2010), the US has deported more people than in the 6 years previous. Many on the left hold that against Obama, that is true. But, the number of US Marshals in Arizona has increased 30 to 50% (depending on the study of permanent to temporary deployment). Illegal immigration across the border is on a downward trend. Though gang on gang violence has remained steady to slightly down, overall violent crime in Arizona has been decreasing, just as it has in the ‘non-invaded’ areas of the country. As Invasions go, I’d say your pet Constitutional pet-peeve is kind of a dud.

      • From HuffPo.

        Three BP agents have died in violent incidents involving the drug gangs over the past two years, including Brian Terry, a victim of Washington’s botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting operation.

        Major southwestern U.S. cities remain relatively peaceful, and that has caused some observers to argue that the concerns about spillover from Mexico’s drug war into the United States are overblown. But while violent crime rates in such American cities as El Paso and Tucson remain low, the situation in rural areas is more worrisome. Residents along the border from California to Texas are experiencing a slow but steady rise in drug-related violence and intimidation.

        Border Patrol agents haven’t been the only victims. Robert Krentz, a prominent rancher near Douglas, Ariz., was found murdered, and evidence indicated that he had paid with his life for stumbling upon a scout for a trafficking shipment. Gunmen attacked David Hartley and his wife Tiffany while they were jet skiing on Falcon Lake on the Texas-Mexico border. David was fatally shot in the encounter. That incident, and other problems with drug gangs on Falcon Lake, caused Texas authorities to deploy a small fleet of heavily armed speedboats in early 2012 to improve security.

        Ranchers and farmers throughout the borderlands increasingly report nasty encounters with cartel enforcers.

    • Craig –

      Ever consider that the inability of the Federal government to prevent the egress of guns to Mexico is more relevant than their inability to prevent the ingress of human beings?

  • Don, thank you. Don’t ever stop doing what you do. I come here for my daily dose of sanity and grammatically correct writing. I’m impressed and confused at the same time. You see, I spent a whole LOT of time in your home town of Shelby, and I must say that I have NEVER found it to be a bastion of either liberalism OR intellectualism. Hence, you amaze me!

    Not only that, I come by my cynicism honestly through age. I’m old, 62 now. I LIVED through all the Republican bullshit, assassinations, coups, civil rights, anti-war, etc. and all. And you didn’t. Yet somehow, you’ve inculcated all that. I don’t know how you did it, but it gives me great hope for the future that you have!

    I knew the Greatest Generation. They were my father, my relatives, my teachers, my mentors! They were no nonsense men who survived the Great Depression and the Great War. The fought for workers rights and died in the mines. They were tough. They didn’t run from rich assholes, and you couldn’t blow smoke up THEIR asses and call it good! They didn’t abide pissants like the current crop of fascist Pubes. They would have kicked some fascist ass with vigor! They were miners, mill workers, loggers, and working men of all stripes. And they were fighters for justice first and foremost, for they had suffered the abuses.

    They’re mostly all gone now, but they too would have loved your blog. They had zero tolerance for bullshit!

  • “Don, thank you. Don’t ever stop doing what you do. I come here for my daily dose of sanity and grammatically correct writing. ”

    I wouldn’t go that far Larry – POGIE is the last of the wannabe bloggers from a decade ago, that would write drivel, grammatically correct of course, and then expect pats on the back because they wrote it so GOOD – what he’s short on is ideas –

    Take a look at his first paragraph – where he tells you about his disdain for America, then tells you he loves it – I call B.S.

    • “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 using bike lanes as part of a global plot to strip the U.S. of its sovereignty. ”

      That’s disdain?

      Sorry Craig, I believe the B.S. is yours.

    • No one will ever accuse you of having written anything grammatically correct, Eric.

      Care to drop some more of your vaunted political predictions on us? I’ve missed those satirical takes on American politics. They were satire, right?

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, 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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