On Loving America

Joel Stein writes on how conservatives “love” America in The Los Angeles Times, arguing that in a sense conservatives do love American more than liberals. This love is in a tribalistic sense, “out of birthplace convenience.”

I still think conservatives love America for the same tribalistic reasons people love whatever groups they belong to. These are the people who are sure Christianity is the only right religion, that America is the best country, that the Republicans have the only good candidates, that gays have cooties.

The difference is that conservatives think loving one’s country means defending it no matter what. For example, a conservative responds to reports of torture or violations of the Geneva Conventions by attacking those who release such information and justifying the actions, not by considering what America really stands for.

The love for America felt by liberals is a far more meaningful form of love. Liberals love America despite knowing their country has faults, and are willing to work to correct those faults. This is what it takes to have a have and maintain a great country. The blind form of love expressed by conservatives is a pathway towards decadence and destruction of what makes America great.

Liberals love the ideals America was founded upon, and hold our current government to those ideals. This is exactly what the Founding Fathers would have expected of us.

I love American because of the civil liberties which were guaranteed by our Founding Fathers. Conservatives often attack those who defend civil liberties out of a blind love for authority, which is not really the same as loving America.

I love America for its heritage of separation of church and state as promoted by the Founding Fathers when they formed a secular government. While this view is clear in the writings of the Founding Fathers, along with many court decisions, the religious right has been promoting a revisionist history which denies this. Loving America means respecting such important principles, not attempting to rewrite our history.

I love our free market system which gives everyone the opportunity to achieve wealth and prosperity. Therefore I oppose perversions of this system which conservatives have promoted, such as Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force and the K Street Project.

Liberals who love America responded to the 9/11 attack by seeking bipartisan unity to defend the country and respond to those who attacked us. Republicans instead took advantage of 9/11 as an excuse to pursue their preexisting goals on foreign policy and restriction of civil liberties while promoting a course which led to a weakening of America’s role in the world. For a group which claims to love America, the right has done a remarkable job of undermining both our national security and moral authority in the world.

The love for America felt by liberals, and the principles our country was founded upon, is necessary to preserve our nation as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The tribalistic love for America felt by conservatives would give us the America of McCarthyism. Nixon and Watergate, and the Bush/Cheney years. This would be an American where civil liberties are ignored, the free market is replaced by crony capitalism, and those who disagree are told to either love their version of America or leave it.

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