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What Is There To Love and Hate About Our Country?

I have written several postings related to Various topics including the military, Voting, the economy, religion and etc in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional issues in these topics.

Whether you were born in the US or now call it home we asked you what it means to be American. Here’s what some of you said

Dearborn in North America has been thrown into conflict about fear, ideology and identity politics the last year. A place of apparent contradictions, it is simultaneously a sleepy affluent suburb and the subject of rumors around Isis terror cells and sharia law.

With the launch of the Guardian documentary Dearborn, Michigan we wanted to know what you think it means to be American. We asked you whether its meaning has changed over the years and what you think the future of the country looks like.

‘An American is someone who embraces equanimity and prudence’: Bruce Rerek, 60, security guard, New York, NY

An American is a person who embraces equanimity, prudence, and the right to express one’s opinions and carry out those choices which will fulfill their life careers. It is a mistaken notion that the pursuit of liberty is one that eschews governance. True liberty is the maturity of mind and action within one’s country. To peruse happiness at the risk of hurt and destruction isn’t happiness, but self destruction. Privacy is paramount, not to cover criminality, but to insure that everyone is guaranteed a safe and inviolate home and is now extended to the digital world.

We have to question daily what being an American means in our thoughts and conduct. To have lived through the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war greatly molded my identity. As a person who identifies as a Jew and a gay man, I have seen the worst and the best from my fellow citizens. What I have taken away from this, now that I am in my sixth decade is that factions will arise who put forward hate and politicians will polish it with the veneer of faith and family.

I think the future of American will be one that I will hardly recognize. The fallout from the Trump era will take many years to sort out both from the GOP and the Democrats. It is my sincere hope that we can at least have the honesty to acknowledge that not only is the political system broken, but our environment, and even the drinking water we take for granted is at peril. Yet children will be born, they have to be fed and educated, and the rest of us still have to carry on. It is a funny thing about people: we are at our worst when things are seemingly good and and better when trouble is at hand. I do hold that this arrogance and anger cannot sustain. By increments America will return to some semblance of a nation that will be welcomed and not laughed at by the world.

‘Believing that our country was made great by opening our arms’: Julie, 23, works at a large tech company, San Francisco, CA

My parents emigrated to America from Malaysia before I was born, and I have their olive skin, their almond-shaped eyes, their straight black hair. I am an Asian-American; an “other” American, in the eyes of many. But being American doesn’t mean being white. You don’t need to speak English; you don’t need to watch baseball; you don’t need to eat hot dogs and burgers. It means that you belong to this country, and this country belongs to you.

Being American means that you believe that opportunity is the birthright of all those with the strength of will, the creativity, and the talent to seize it. It means believing that our country was made great by opening our arms to people, ideas, and cultures that are different from us – that America is America because it takes in the best the world has to offer and makes them ours.

But mostly, I think about Thanksgiving. Growing up, my parents would normally cook us dishes from their culture. We would eat rice nearly every night, with Malaysian curries and Chinese stir-fries. But I remember Thanksgivings where I’d wake up to the smell of turkey, stuffing, and yams. Napkins with pilgrims on them; apple pie, and an American flag hanging out front. It was as if my mother, with her carefully-clipped newspaper recipes on the fridge, wanted more than anything for our family – on this most American of holidays – to willfully, undeniably, be stamped as members to this country and this culture which was so different from the one in which she was raised. She wanted us to belong, and to succeed. And what’s more American than that?

A family having a traditional holiday dinner with stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables, pumpkin and pecan pie. Photograph: GMVozd/Getty Images

‘It meant being an empowered female’: Bridget, 66, graphic designer, Spokane, WA

In the 80s and 90s I used to comment about how grateful I was to live in the best place and time in all of human history to be a woman. Never before could women choose such autonomy and be safe doing it. We could be married or we could be single. We could largely go where we wanted and pursue education, interests, jobs, and careers that were chosen. In other words we could shape a life, not merely live one that was randomly imposed on us by the geography and circumstance of birth. I felt free and knew the freedom I felt was of a type never before available to women. Being a person who was so enthusiastic and grateful about – and even humbled by – being an empowered female entirely shaped my sense of being American.

Today, everything that made my life’s adventure so wonderful seems under siege. Every part of our system is now locked down to keep every person in their place of origin. If you’re born poor you’re gonna die poor. In fact it sure seems to me – with the very real erosion of meaningful and living-wage-paying employment – if you’re born middle class you’re gonna’ die poor as well. If one values personal autonomy, the future of America is dark. Our system developed, encouraged and protected the good-doers and did its best to deter the bad-doers. Today, we see rot all around us well rewarded. Only a rotten system could so reward a man like the current occupant of the White House.

As I approach the closing chapter of my life, I am racked with anxiety and insecurity. I was once a proud American and a most grateful American woman. The wondrous fertile ground in which personal motivation once thrived is being stripped away with every passing election. My heart breaks for those who will suffer and suffer greatly as our American darkness gains momentum. And my heart breaks equally for those who welcome the darkness they see as light. America was once on a path, imperfect as it was, to greatness. No longer. I am simply too old to believe I will see recovery. History is rich with stories of empires that became past tense. And in the past tense they stayed.

‘Worrying and feeling afraid’: Sarah, 37, web developer, OR

An inmate is led out of his cell at an American prison. Photograph: Eric Risberg/AP

Being American means I think all the time about whether my husband, who is in prison for a robbery, would have been given help and a chance to show he has changed if we lived in another developed country. We endure constant dehumanization and stress just trying to have a relationship, and the system does everything it can to make it difficult and ensure that prison is a dangerous place full of despair.

Being American means I worry about how the government will regulate fintech and bitcoin, and how I can’t participate in many innovative projects because they are off limits to US citizens. I think about how many people view the US as repressive and invasive because of our regulations. I think some regulation can be helpful, but the invasion of privacy and suggestion that everyone using bitcoin is criminal is unfair and just puts us behind the rest of the world. Being American also means I feel embarrassed when I talk to people in other countries, not just because of Trump but because of our long history of meddling in other country’s affairs, and now we are freaking out that someone did it to us. It feels childish and entitled.

Being American means I feel afraid that when my husband gets out of prison his darker skin and criminal record will make people, and especially police, afraid of him even though he’s done everything he can to change and become a good citizen and leave his past behind. Being American means I am afraid of my government. I am afraid of how much power is concentrated in the hands of a few rich people. Being American means feeling like your country is run by people who don’t care at all about your well being, because they have so much money they don’t have to care. Being American means being ashamed that our country is not being responsible for our part in climate change and not contributing to the world’s efforts to avert disaster.

‘Disappointment and disillusionment’: Philip Greene, 66, works for an auto parts store, Dayton, OH

To me, being an American has meant disappointment and disillusionment. I grew up in a small Midwestern military town where we were taught and believed that the US truly held a special place in the world; the only country that offered true freedom, where anyone could grow up to be president and where every individual enjoyed the benefits and opportunities of “our way of life”.

Policemen arrest black suspects in a Detroit street during riots that erupted in Detroit following a police operation in 1967. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

In the early 1960s, I watched as some cities erupted in race riots and protests. I remember sitting around the table with my family and their friends, listening to them blaming black people for burning their own homes and saying how they were just lazy and wanted everything handed to them. With no other influences available, I believed it, but still had questions. Then, at age 15, my family moved from Ohio to Vicksburg, Mississippi and the lids were ripped from my eyes. Not far from our house was a group of shacks and hovels – mostly pieced together with whatever scrap materials could be found. The streets were unpaved and little more than a one lane collection of pot holes. There was little evidence of electrical lines or telephone wires. I watched in horror one day as a police car sped through the ghetto nearly killing a young girl who was pulled out of the way just in time.

There were many, many others; African Americans who were expected to step into the street to allow a white person to pass; entrances and water fountains marked “Whites” and “Colored” and restaurants where people with dark skins could never go. Yes, all these things did, indeed exist; they are not myths. With this indelibly impressed on my mind, I began to look at other things: the war in Vietnam; the way women and gays were treated; the death grip of the rich on the poor. I have never since be able to see the my country as I did when I was a child. And though I work to make it a better place, I look back over the past fifty years and I see so few visions have come true.

‘It means being in a perpetual state of love and hate’: Ada, 63, semi-retired professor, Austin, TX

Being American means being in a perpetual state of love and hate: love for all those who sacrificed and endured so I could have more of the same opportunities I would have had if I had been born white, and hate for all those who continue to fuel and exploit racism and other isms to sow divisions and line their pockets.

My father was drafted into the segregated army during WW2. After President Truman integrated the military, they needed black officers who had a college degree. My dad had one so rather than return to his native Texas, he became a career army officer retiring at the rank of colonel in 1970. We lived on military bases so I grew up feeling very American and I understood from an early age that one must fight for one’s beliefs. I also understood that despite the stars and bars on my father’s uniform, there were lots of white people who did not think he was as good as them, and that I had to be twice as good as a white person just to be considered just as good.

I would argue things have never been worse in America. It’s been coming since the Reagan era which promoted two myths that in my opinion led directly to Trump. Firstly that the private sector is great and the government sucks, and secondly that racial and ethnic discrimination is a thing of the past. But I believe that the future of America looks a lot more like me than Donald Trump.

Five Things Tourists Love & Hate about Visiting The USA

Hate #1: US Sales Tax

When you are shopping or dining out in most countries, the price you see is the price you pay. But that’s not the case in the US. Every state has a sales tax that is added on to the price of the item. When you go to McDonald’s and order off the “dollar” menu, you end up paying $1.06 or whatever the tax rate is where you are. Tax can add anywhere from 5% to 20% on top of the price listed.

Love #1: Prices in the US

Overall, the US is pretty cheap to visit. Hotels, restaurants, and even shopping are very affordable in the States. Of course, you can spend more on luxury hotels and fine dining, but if you are traveling on a budget, you will have plenty of options when you travel to the USA.

Hate #2: US Restaurants

When you go out to a sit-down restaurant in the US, the final amount you pay is often much higher than the menu prices. First, you have the sales tax we already mentioned, and then there is the gratuity. While tipping does happen in other countries, the expectations are much higher in the US. You should plan to tip between 15% and 20%. 15% is generally considered the minimum amount to tip for restaurant or bar service.

Love #2: Diversity in the United States

The United States has always been and continues to be, a melting pot of cultures. Each region of the US has a unique culture, from Southern hospitality to New England charm. And then there are other cultures mixed in, especially in larger cities like Chicago, which has huge populations of Mexicans, Polish, Indian and others, with lively neighborhoods serving up amazing cuisines. With 50 states to visit, you’ll find interesting cultures and traditions in each.

Hate #3: Public Transportation in the US

Outside of major cities, there really is no public transportation in the United States. Smaller cities often have just a few bus lines and no train system to speak of at all. Amtrak is the train system, but the routes aren’t always convenient. If you plan to visit the US without driving, you’ll really need to stick to some of the larger cities along the Eastern seaboard, as the train options are better around New York, Boston, and Washington DC.

Love #3: People in the US

Americans are really great. When traveling abroad, a lot of people seem to think that Americans are superficial or fake because they are so friendly. A more reserved culture is suspicious of this friendliness, but it’s actually genuine. When we ask “how are you?” we actually mean it, and when we smile, it’s sincere. When I have lived abroad, I miss the people of the U.S. more than anything else. Of course, this varies by region, but for the most part, you will find most Americans to be very helpful.

Hate #4: Great Distances Between Attractions

The United States is huge and there are often vast distances between the things you want to see. Things are a little more concentrated in New England and the northeast, but if you are visiting the Southwest, the Midwest or the West Coast, expect a lot of long driving days between attractions. People think they can visit New York, Miami, and Los Angeles all in one trip because you’re not leaving the country, so it can’t be so bad. In reality, that is over 6,500 kilometers. The best thing to do is to focus on one region for each time you visit the United States.

Love #4: U.S. Cities and Small Towns

There are so many cool cities and towns to visit in the United States. Chicago is one of the best cities in the world, with big-city culture in a very easy to get around town. Each large city of the U.S. is unique and interesting, which makes it hard to decide where to go in the U.S. Apart from the big cities, small towns are really the heart of America. Take a road trip along Route 66 and visit all different kinds of towns.

Hate #5: Driving is a Necessity

Unlike traveling through Europe, having a rental car in the US is pretty much a necessity. Due to lack of public transportation and the great distances in the States, having a car is the best way to see the country, unless you are visiting the East Coast or Chicago, where public transportation is decent. This does add to your expenses for the trip. Not only will you have to pay for a rental car, but you’ll have to think about fuel, parking, tolls, and insurance.

Love #5: American Landscapes

There are so many unique and diverse landscapes across the country. There are the deserts of the Southwest, the Rocky Mountains, the Smoky Mountains, the Great Lakes, the Great Plains, the swamps and bayous of the South. There are so many different environments to explore throughout the United States beyond the amazing cities and towns.

The US is such an amazing and diverse country that everyone should try to visit at least once. With so many places to visit in the US, it can be hard to narrow down an itinerary for your USA trip. The “hates” are all really just things to avoid, rather than a reason not to travel to the USA.

Patriotism: Hate Your Government, Love Your Country

Sam recently posted to my Facebook page (which on any given day is a hotspot for political and social debate and bantering):

I’ve been thinking about ‘patriotism’ lately. What is it? The definition is ‘love of country,’ so, I guess more specifically, what is ‘country’ within that definition? What is the United States of America? Answer away, Facebook.

Answers included “pride”, “loving my country”, “mindlessly chanting ‘USA, USA’,” “leaving the country better than I found it,” among others. Many had the answers you might expect; other people had their own definitions entirely.

What exactly does the loud, super patriotic crowd in America actually love so much? It seems to me this collection of individuals proudly arm themselves to take on the very country they profess to love, yet hate, at the same time. Although they do not trust their government, or many elected officials, they also love the country, and by damnit hate anyone who doesn’t agree!

What is the “country” though? The military? The flag? The government? The inherent ideas and values passed on from the very beginning? Whatever the country is, they love it. Or do they? What exactly is #Merica, anyway?

Maybe it’s the good ol’ Founding Fathers. The Declaration of Independence promised, “All men are created equal!” But early American leadership forced indigenous people off of their land, enslaved an entire race of human beings still being brought to this country against their will and in the most vile conditions imaginable, neglected to grant half the population (women) equal rights or the right to vote, and failed to grant non-property owners the right to vote.

For hundreds of years after the nation’s founding, leaders gave orders to violently stifle demonstrators exercising their right to free speech. It’s almost as though those Founding Fathers everyone loves were just looking out for themselves and their fellow rich, white buddies, and didn’t actually give a damn about liberty, freedom, or the pursuit of happiness for anybody else.

With all of the other obvious instances of inequality, injustice, and infringement of “freedom” which contradict the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is it actually absurd to view America in the patriotic way that so many do?

Women still make less money than men, 50% of African American youth remain unemployed, children still go to bed hungry, and working poor people are shamed for government assistance. In the past, I have heard arguments refuting that point. These arguments were based on pure ignorance of the topic, or acknowledgement of its reality while admitting it is to be expected.

“Well, it would be ridiculous to actually expect equality!” they have said.

Patriotism cannot be based on the inherent values of our founding documents, as those values don’t really exist in practice, and really never have.

Then what about America is to be loved so deeply? The current government? No, it can’t be!

No one, particularly in the patriotic crowd, approves of or, oddly enough, desires to change the government. It is looked upon unfavorably by almost everyone. Whether you think it is a government that sucks or a corporate-controlled government that sucks, if you’re American you have a disdain for the government — especially if you’re a Tea Partier, who loves life-long government officials telling you government doesn’t work.

Either way, there is one freedom we do have, despite phantom efforts to abolish such a right — the right to bear arms. This will keep us on a level playing field against that $610 billion military budget should the country, err, government, err, well, “they”, ever take our freedom and liberty away!

Can you imagine if they tried to take freedoms and liberties away? Wait a second… maybe that military budget is… America? But why do us Americans have all of these guns if we patriotically have them just to fight against… America?

Perhaps patriotism, or “the country,” must really be just the flag. The stars and bars. It is a nice looking flag.

Or maybe not. I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, I guess “patriotism” is difficult to define. Kind of like “religion.”

And please, do not confuse this piece for ungratefulness. I realize this country is a lot better than many others. However, is it so horrible of me to hold this country to the standard they made for themselves in popular history books? Shouldn’t this country, the self-proclaimed greatest in the world, live up to the expectations it has created for itself?

No matter how you slice it, the “American Dream”, if such a thing even exists at all, is only true as advertised for a very small portion of the country. That very small portion is reaping the benefits of the “patriotic” majority, whatever the hell that is.

Why I Love and Hate Being an American

In Japan, with the plethora of thin people around, I liked to complain about my countrymen being so fat, the kids more and more likely to develop diabetes. In Thailand, with the political unrest, it was ignorance: “The average American wouldn’t know Thailand from Afghanistan.” Naturally, I exaggerated to curry favor with non-American expats and locals alike, but I meant a lot of what I said.

When I’m outside the good ol’ US of A’s borders, all I can see are the faults.

When I’m repatriated, it’s like a drop of water rejoining the pond: I start out as something unique, something that doesn’t seem as though it should be returned to the mass ”¦ but with a few ripples of time, almost indistinguishable from the rest of the drips.

This is not as black and white as I’m painting it. There are times I do in fact like, even love that I was born American when I’m abroad. When I’m unable to access certain blogs in China, when I see “no foreigners allowed” signs in Japan, when I talk to some men and women born and raised under the teachings of Islam and realize they have absolutely no desire to kill me. But some issues really tear me apart, as an informed American and a world traveler.

Expression

The good:

Freedom of expression. The first amendment. The right for people to assemble, to protest, to do almost anything but yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. It’s the cornerstone of everything that happens in this country. Millions of people disagree with hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, but I’m willing to bet a majority of those opposed still support their right to express what they want.

The bad:

Bigots and complete idiots have a voice too. In fact, they’re the ones people usually listen to. I disagree with a lot of Bill Maher’s tactics, but he basically has it right saying Rush Limbaugh “scares white men as they get into their truck at lunchtime.” And he reaches more people with scare tactics than Maher does with comedy.

Someone with the best intentions can stir up feelings of mistrust, even hate, with the wrong facts, or the omission of truth. My biggest qualm with American life: every piece of media is screaming at us, telling us the least important things in the world are the most important ”¦

Protesting, people dying in Thailand? Who cares? Tom Cruise is a “crazy” Scientologist!

There’s no money left for social security programs? Sorry, didn’t hear you ”¦ reading this story about finding the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast.

It’s like the entire American media is the voice of HAL 9000 – quietly assuring us everything is ok, everything will always be fine, or distracting us with the latest bit of mindless Hollywood gossip – while in the background systems are exploding.

Food

The good:

There are hungry, even starving people in the states, but by and large, food is cheap and easy to come by. With such diversity, authentic ethnic restaurants are available in even the smallest US cities. I challenge you to find another place with such a variety of food.

The bad:

Our eating habits are downright disgusting. Even those who are a little more conscientious than others are still inhaling foods our neighbors around the world might gag on. Aren’t we the country that turned hyper obesity into a recognized disability (may have been Canada, but I think we provided the snacks)?

Who knows how many products are filled with high fructose corn syrup? One of the most recognized words around the globe is “Coca Cola.” More and more kids are getting diabetes through exposure to products with just too much sugar.

The worst of the worst?

People

The good:

America has incredible diversity. I would venture to say it is one of the most racially diverse countries on Earth. With that diversity comes a variety of perspectives, voices in the government, influence on every aspect of life from reading literature to educating your kids on where their friends come from.

The bad:

I honestly don’t know where this idea of immigrants being enemies came from, but it seems to be deeply engrained in many Americans. There’s a sense that Caucasian is a somewhat “neutral race” and anything that deviates from that is abnormal.

Just look at the new law passed in Arizona: authorities can now demand people they suspect of being illegal immigrants present their papers. Citizens are being judged literally at face value, and it’s hard to see an end in sight.

Power

The good:

America is (or maybe just was) a shining example to the rest of the world, a pillar of democracy, freedom, a better way of life. People want to live here, are willing to leave everything they’ve ever known for a shot at the American dream.

The bad:

The dream may still be floating through the heads of many beyond our borders, but we’re not exactly setting the best example. Starting a war no one in the world agrees with. Using far too many natural resources so our citizens may enjoy privileged lifestyles ”¦ actually, no, it’s just wasteful. Letting our trust fund kids out into the world to be the faces that many foreigners associate with Americans.

We’re aware of the influence we have, and I think we wield an iron fist when it comes down to it; if so many countries are opposed to our presence in Iraq, why don’t they just stop us? Because they’re afraid. Afraid of how their actions will affect relations with America, the most powerful nation on Earth, and afraid of doing anything like sending their forces against ours.

There are times abroad when someone will tap me on the shoulder and question me nonstop about life in the states, and I can’t do anything but smile and say “yeah, it’s pretty sweet.” On the other hand, more often than not, I’m tempted to sew a Canadian flag on my backpack and inch away from the heated political discussion in the hostel.

Opinion | Patriotism rooted in love of country, nationalism in hate of others

Nationalism and patriotism are not the same thing. Both have their basis in love and loyalty to country, but that is where their similarities end.

Nationalists believe they are superior. Their culture, their ethnicity, and their interests are so much more important than the interest of others, they fear people who do not share their ideas and they often devalue people who are different than them. White supremacists and Nazis are examples. Donald Trump now identifies as a nationalist. (“‘I am a nationalist’: Trump’s embrace of controversial label sparks uproar,” USA Today, Oct. 24)

Patriots are more encompassing in their love of country. Because we are a large and diverse country, American patriotism takes on many forms. Our patriotism often has her roots in our freedoms, our opportunities, and in our boundless hope and generosity.

Charles de Gaulle put it this way: “Patriotism is when love of your own comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”

Are you a patriot or a nationalist? 

Do Democrats Hate America?

Anger from the left has been boiling over. But do Democrats really hate America?

Our perception that politics in America have grown more polarized in recent decades, unfortunately, is fairly accurate. The anger and vitriol seems to be at toxic levels. In recent weeks, rage over decades (centuries?) of racism and discrimination has resulted into protests across America and worldwide.

The most recent catalyst for the outbreak of protests is George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Black Lives Matter might be the largest movement in U.S. history. All of this occurring under the gloom of a global pandemic.

Much of this anger, as of late, has been from the left. Some of this righteous anger, in the form of “wokism” and the “cancel culture,” might be inadvertently contributing to a backlash from the right. In response to some of the anger and protests from the left, some conservatives, such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have gone as far as saying that today’s Democratic leaders “despise this country” and, consequently, are unfit to be in leadership roles. While I’m sure that there are some extremists in America who do indeed hate our country, let’s keep this discussion focused on the more typical American Democrat (or person who is more liberal or on the “left”). Is it true that they really hate America?

Does Anger Mean Hate?

First, let’s not conflate “anger” with “hate.” One can be angry without hating, and our own experience tells us this is true. Think of the times that you’ve been really angry with your partner, parent, close friend, or child. Did your anger mean that you hated them? Of course not! Just as you can love someone and be angry at them, one can love one’s country and be angry at aspects of it too.

Similarly, we can even dislike aspects of a person we love (e.g., the way he smacks his food when he eats). Granted, there is so much anger in many liberals right now that it might appear that many of them do indeed hate America. But just as those we love can hurt us most, consider that the level of anger that many liberals feel is a reflection of the pain and hurt underneath it.

People on the Right Become Critical and Angry Too

Clearly, it’s not just people on the left who get angry at our political leaders, laws, and policies. People on the right can be very critical and protest too, often in anger. Some examples include protesting requirements to wear masks, for gun rights, and banning abortions. There are people on the extreme right who despise the IRS, CIA, FBI, and the federal government in general. Yet, we shouldn’t claim that these people hate America … right?

Let’s imagine that Hillary Clinton had become president. Many (most?) conservatives would likely be extremely upset by this and criticizing her and almost every aspect of her administration. “A liberal Supreme Court justice nominated to replace a retiring conservative one? OMG, she’s awful!” The hosts at Fox News would practically be frothing at the mouth, just as the CNN and MSNBC news anchors do now about Trump and his administration. Further, we can imagine if President Hillary Clinton were restricting access to firearms and fending off abortion restrictions, there would be many angry protests from the right, to say the least.

How Conservatives and Liberals Are Alike

People on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum get angry and protest. Each side thinks they are right and the other side is wrong. Both sides vilify the other and engage in a type of fear-mongering. “Don’t let the other side win, or they will destroy America!” In an odd way, this makes conservatives and liberals the same, not different. The difference is what elicits fear and anger in each side.

Viewing Our Differences Through the Lens of Moral Foundations Theory

While we all like to think of ourselves as objective, we all are subject to many biases that shape our views and opinions. This comes into particular play in our moral values and judgments. According to social psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt and colleagues’ Moral Foundations Theory, conservatives and liberals’ evaluations of good/bad and right/wrong are influenced by how these different foundations are weighted.

Liberals tend to evaluate morality based more on the foundations of care/harm, fairness/cheating, and liberty/oppression whereas conservatives also include the foundations of loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. Most of this is subconscious, but it can result in liberals and conservatives almost speaking different languages when it comes to their moral reasoning. Each side looks at the other and thinks, “Why do you not see this? What is wrong with you that you don’t get this?” (You can read more about this in Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion).

The killing of George Floyd by police officers activated all three of liberals’ primary moral foundations of care/harm, fairness/cheating, and liberty/oppression quite strongly. From the left’s perspective, their righteous anger in the forms of protests and demands for change are warranted to correct wrongs in society and our politics. Many on the left were already quite angry about the Trump presidency for denigrating the values that many liberals hold dear (e.g., treatment of refugees, immigrants, and the poor, minority/LBGTQ rights, the environment).

Similarly, conservatives become quite upset when liberals act in ways that subvert the three other moral foundations: disloyalty to America, disrespecting authority, and dishonoring the sanctity of America. In many countries, and historically, one would be imprisoned or executed for merely criticizing the government. As a recent example, protesters in Hong Kong experienced China’s crackdown firsthand. What a great country we have that we can (peacefully) protest our own government!

Numerous conservatives look at people on the left and think, “What is their major malfunction? What a bunch of ungrateful complainers! How dare they be so critical of our great nation!” Agree with them or not, many conservatives find it almost heretical for liberals to be so critical of America, especially when it comes to the removal of statues, monuments, and renaming roads and buildings (there’s that “sanctity” moral foundation coming into play).

Can We Find Some Common Ground?

People don’t fit into discreet categories and, if we stop vilifying one another long enough, perhaps we can each see a little bit from one another’s perspective. We get so polarized that we often don’t listen to one another, which might be considered a form of switchtracking. We are too busy telling the other side how and why they are wrong instead of listening a bit to one another to try to find some common ground.

Conservatives are correct in that, taking a broad perspective, there are many wonderful things about America. We have done a lot “right.” We are founded on lofty principles that all people have the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are a world leader in so many areas—the arts, sciences, medicine, and technology. American ingenuity, allowed to flourish in our fertile economic and political conditions, is responsible for inventions such as the electric light, the airplane, cellphones, and personal computers. We helped win World Wars I and II. We put the first human beings on the moon. In many respects, we should all be thankful that we live here and not in some more oppressive country like North Korea or, even more broadly, medieval Europe, Stalin’s Russia, or Hitler’s Germany. Using both historical and global standards, America is a pretty awesome country.

Yet, liberals are also correct that America has many ills. We frequently don’t live up to our lofty aspirations. Many inequalities still exist. We have some embarrassingly bad policies and laws in our history, such as slavery and Jim Crow. Most Native Americans would not, understandably, praise America as the land of opportunity given that we took the land from them. It’s amazing to think that, even though America was founded on July 4, 1776, women were not even given the right to vote at the national level until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. To this day, many women and minorities still don’t often experience the same level of opportunities and benefits as the advantaged white majority. Much progress has been made in the areas of social justice, yet there is more work to be done.

Both liberals and conservatives have valid points of view. But the groups become more polarized when we don’t acknowledge this. Liberals could do a better job at appreciating the many great qualities about America while still calling for change and reform. Conservatives could do a better job at acknowledging that, even though America is a great country in so many respects, we have made many egregious mistakes in our past and still have work to do in order to “form a more perfect union.”

The Takeaway?

While there are certainly some extremists on the left who probably do hate America, most Democrats don’t hate America. However, many are angry. But saying Democrats hate America provides a rationale for Republicans to hate Democrats. This kind of polarizing rhetoric maybe the heart of the problem.

Once we become blinded by the view that people who hold different perspectives than we do are idiots, ignorant, or morally inferior to ourselves, it allows us to treat them with contempt and disdain. “My group is better than your group!” Strangely enough, Democrats and Republicans each point their collective fingers at one another making the same claim—that they have it right and the other group is wrong (or ignorant, stupid, uneducated, etc.). The reality is that most people are doing the best they can and trying to get it “right,” whatever that means. Simply put, if we thought our views were idiotic, we would change them!

Although Democrats don’t truly hate America, making this claim elicits the outrage that garners higher TV ratings, more social media shares and likes, and makes more money for networks. Media on both the right and the left foment this anger because their existence often depends upon it. We are all, to some degree, responsible, as well, as we collectively segregate ourselves into our tribes and convince ourselves that we are morally superior to those “others.” Until both liberals and conservatives realize that our real enemy isn’t each other, but our vilification of one another, we will continue down this path toward greater tribal animosity that is the real threat to our democracy.

What It Means To Love Our Country

As we celebrate the anniversary of our country’s founding, singing songs of our love for America, it is appropriate to consider whether our country really is worth loving and, if she is, what it means to love her. This question is more important now than ever before: it is perhaps the dominant dividing line in America today.  

Take the recent strife over the national anthem. While some Americans use the anthem as an occasion for protest, other Americans see a failure to stand during its performance as a betrayal of the land they love. This is not merely a dispute over etiquette. It is a deep disagreement over that most fundamental of political questions: whether—and how—Americans ought to love their country. Many of the other conflicts currently roiling America’s public life—conflicts over symbols of America’s past, over immigration and refugees—emerge from disputes over this same question. 

This essay offers a possible answer. It begins with an explanation of how and why we can love America well, in a way that is not only defensible but noble, and it concludes by considering how this love should affect our politics. 

Patriotic Affection 

Patriotic love properly begins with affection: the appreciation, the comprehension and esteem, of that which is good in its object. True affection appreciates only what is worthy of esteem. To esteem the vices in our country is not to love her well; indeed, it is not to love her at all. 

The affection we have for America ought to be prompted by the good things in her: the beauty of her rolling hills and soaring mountains, the nobility in her history, the justice in her laws and courts, the art and ideas her people have bequeathed to the world. And the highest sort of affection appreciates its object’s highest virtues. Americans ought to follow Pericles in appreciating that “[o]ur government does not copy our neighbors, but is an example to them.”  Athens, like America, had its share of Olympic medals; but better to exult in the constitution of our republic than in the constitution of our athletes. 

One might object here that this affection is too thin to be called patriotism. Affection cannot explain the unique love that Americans feel for America. After all, one need not reside within our country’s borders to savor Steinbeck’s stories or marvel at Madison’s handiwork. 

The answer is that, as St. Augustine pointed out long ago, “nothing can be loved unless it be known.” No one can love America like an American because no one knows her like an American. 

But to say that knowledge is essential to love does not imply that patriotism is the unique province of intellectuals. The knowledge that leads to love of country is not necessarily or even frequently propositional. Rather, it is the firsthand experience of a place that gradually helps us see what is beautiful about it. Nor does this imply that only those born in America can genuinely love her. An immigrant who has suffered under the oppression of authoritarianism is in some ways especially capable of knowing the value of the freedom Americans enjoy. 

A perusal of the The Federalist might give an interested Frenchman an understanding of our governmental institutions. But true affection for our Constitution can come only from living under the government it structures, participating in the politics it makes possible, and exercising the freedoms it secures. In a word, we love our country because she is, in some important sense, ours

Protecting and Promoting America’s Goodness 

But our love for America should not be limited to this. Patriotic affection ought to elicit a further desire to protect and promote America’s goodness. Americans today are the beneficiaries of those who pledged their lives and sacred honor to form this country, those who spent their lives in the struggle to keep it, and those who have worked tirelessly to shape it into a more perfect union. We have many blessings to be grateful for, and the appropriate product of our gratitude is a desire to promote these blessings. 

This desire to protect and promote our country’s goodness is properly called patriotism, but it is patriotism of a particular kind. When our country struggles or our government errs, patriotism arouses us to safeguard the things we love. Our love for our country is originally founded on all the countless lovely things about her. But our love for America does not rest on its remaining lovely. If it did, it would be no love at all. Such a false patriotism is, as C.S. Lewis once put it, “like loving your children only if they’re good, your wife only while she keeps her looks, your husband only so long as he is famous and successful.”  

Because true patriotism appreciates America’s charms but refuses to esteem her faults, it does not cause us to blindly endorse everything our country is and has been. It will not even permit us to be unmoved by our country’s sins. We promote our country’s goodness both by celebrating its virtues and by identifying—and remedying—its vices. This patriotism will not allow us to mark as noble what is ignoble. It compels us to cherish those goods that ought to be cherished and to remedy those evils that ought to be remedied.   

This patriotism thus aims to protect and promote America’s goodness, not her government. It entails no particular commitment to, or satisfaction with, the ruling authority of the state. On the contrary, it will sometimes require criticizing our government when it fails to promote and protect what is good about America. We ought to have affection for the justice and peace that our government secures, and our love for our country ought to compel us to promote these blessings—including by holding our government to account. An unpatriotic heart is thus characterized not by agitation, but by apathy. 

Objections against Patriotism  

Patriotism is frequently criticized as an unjustifiable preference for people who happen to reside within the same arbitrary lines on a map. Patriotism conceives of one’s country as a morally relevant object, as something to which we are loyal and of which we take special consideration. Yet morality is typically—and rightly—understood to be universal, with individual human beings the locus of moral concern. A critic might be left wondering how any patriotism can justify treating a subset of human beings as deserving of special solicitude. There are at least three reasons why the patriotism described here is in fact justifiable.  

First, this patriotism describes an inclination of the heart. The critic might say that we ought to replace our desire to protect and promote our country’s goodness with a desire to protect and promote the world’s goodness. But when it comes to the inclinations of our hearts, cosmopolitan love is outside the reach of mere mortals; our hearts would break were we to experience the world’s tragedies as if each had happened to our own mother. One can recognize universal love as the ideal while still praising people’s progress toward that ideal. Man’s natural inclination is to selfishness, not charity, and patriotism helps move him closer to the charity he ought to have. To return to Lewis: “those who do not love the fellow-villagers or fellow-townsmen whom they have seen are not likely to have got very far towards loving ‘Man’ whom they have not.”  

Second, this patriotism is constituted by a desire for our country’s good—not just her material prosperity, but her moral good as well. This patriotism therefore cannot justify ignoring the moral significance of non-Americans. All agree, for example, that we ought to love our family, and most even agree that this love rightfully privileges our family’s interests over others. But a familial love that justifies injustice to others is, in truth, an idolatrous imitator of love. Indeed, a proper patriotism, rather than promoting injustice, helps prevent it. As G.K. Chesterton argued, what is “really need[ed] for the frustration and overthrow of a deaf and raucous Jingoism is a renascence of the love of the native land.”   

Third, those inclined to take moral instruction from the Christian Bible have good reasons to affirm the nobility of loving one’s country as one’s country. Christ wept for Jerusalem. Paul was ready to sacrifice himself for his people. And there must be something to the story of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost: the miracle was not that those assembled heard the sermon in Peter’s language, but that they understood it in their own. The nations’ differences were not eliminated, but affirmed.  

Patriotism understood in this way—as the desire to protect and promote our country’s goodness—is not only justifiable. It is good. It stirs us to celebrate our country’s loveliness and inspires us to rectify her ugliness. 

How Patriotism Affects Politics 

On its surface, the patriotism outlined above shares some resemblance to the “new nationalism” some conservatives have celebrated in the current presidential administration. Matthew Continetti, for example, explains that the new nationalism binds Americans together “by our love of the land, its natural beauty, its inhabitants, its history, by what our people have achieved, what they have lost, what they have endured.” Likewise, Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru have endorsed a nationalism that “includes loyalty to one’s country: a sense of belonging, allegiance, and gratitude to it . . . [that] attaches to the country’s people and culture, not just to its political institutions and laws.” 

Continetti, Lowry, and Ponnuru are eager to craft policy recommendations from this new nationalism. But while the policies these writers recommend may or may not be prudent, it is difficult to see how they follow from an appreciation for, say, the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the courage of Dr. King’s convictions. The patriotism described in this essay certainly does not entail them. Desiring to protect and promote the goodness in America will lead to us to care deeply about what our government does, yes; but arriving at particular policy prescriptions requires identifying not only what is good about America but also which policies will protect and promote this goodness. 

Take, as examples, limiting immigration and promoting the exclusive use of the English language, two of the policies suggested both by Continetti and by Lowry and Ponurru. These policies follow from our patriotic sentiments only if they further, rather than hinder, what is good about America. But how to decide? The magnificent dome of St. Josaphat’s Basilica in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is ringed with verses written in the Polish spoken by the church’s original parishioners. Today, Spanish-language flyers cover its interior. Is this an example of something about America that needs correction—say, the unfortunate reality that English is not as universally spoken as some Americans might like—or is it an example of what is good about America—say, America’s tradition of welcoming immigrants?  

History alone, while important, cannot give us the answer. As Ross Douthat has incisively observed, “the real American past was particularist as well as universalist.” That is, America is and has been a country of immigrants from all across the world, and it is and has been a country of Protestant, Lockean Englishmen. Each American, drawing on his own moral principles and aesthetic predilections, must decide which elements in America’s topography and culture and history are worthy of his affection—which elements are worth protecting and promoting. 

This debate will always be difficult. But it is essential that we see that those who disagree with us on this question are no less patriotic than we are. 

The bad news is that we will never reach consensus on exactly what is worth loving in our country. The good news is that many of the things Americans love about America are not mutually exclusive. Most of the time, our countrymen are right to love these things, for they are truly good things. Loving America well requires the capacity to relish the countless visions of her goodness held by Americans across our country. 

Most of all, loving America well means taking her seriously—working to preserve what is lovely about her and to fix what is not. No one can love America like an American, and that is precisely why we are called to do it.

Why Do Americans Hate America?

Why is that people from other countries know what there is to love about America but our citizens don’t?

Following Independence Day, Dennis Prager lamented, “This Fourth of July weekend, there were a spate of opinion pieces arguing how bad America is and how immoral its founding.”

He then asked a very powerful question, “Can America survive if its own people despise it?”

It makes one to wonder why so many Americans hate America. After all, the United States has been the freest, most prosperous nation for over 200 years. The simple answer is we are not teaching our children what there is to love about AmericaThomas Sowell wrote an excellent piece about this as well.

So, what is it that makes America so unique, that sets us apart from the rest of the world, and is so worth celebrating?

Interestingly enough, it is people from other countries and immigrants to the United States—particularly those from socialist and communist countries—who can articulate it best.

One such person is Thomas Peterffy. In 2012 Mr. Peterffy released a video sharing his personal experience as an immigrant from socialist Hungary and his concerns that America may be following the same path.

We’ve been blessed with unprecedented freedom for so long in our country that we tend to take it for granted. And we’re so busy enjoying it that the decades of slow encroachments on those freedoms have gone virtually unnoticed. But for someone like Peterffy, who witnessed socialism firsthand, it’s a lot easier to recognize when you’re on that path and deeply troubling when you know where it leads.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Peterffy and ask why he feels America is so unique from the rest of the world.

His response was the American Dream, and then stressed the importance of understanding what that means. Peterffy describes the American Dream as “a free market economy where people are free to acquire, own, transact and accumulate property, including land and operating businesses.”

This is also known as capitalism. And while that has, unfortunately, come to be a bad word in our society, it is a very good principle and practice that benefits all of us. Capitalism is simply our freedom to keep what we earn. It is the freedom to own, manage and maintain the fruits of our labors— our home, our car, our clothes, our money, our businesses. It is something we have just come to expect in America but in a world marching to the socialist drum; it is a very rare and unique idea.

The exact opposite of the American Dream, or capitalism, is communism, something Peterffy knows a great deal about.

“In communism only the government owns property and owns businesses. For individuals, it is strictly forbidden to own any property other than personal property, the nature of which is very limited and clearly defined,” he said.

Peterffy further explained that socialism is any state between capitalism and communism.

“It was originally defined as the way to transfer society from capitalism to communism in a controlled and gradual fashion. Initially socialism is soft, aside of some regulations and some limits on businesses people are mostly free. Then it slowly hardens. There are more and more regulations, tighter limits on the size of businesses, higher taxes, large firms and farms are nationalized,” he said.

“As it hardens further, the sizes of houses and apartments any family may occupy is strictly limited in square feet. Income tax rises to close to 100 percent above certain income levels, no private business may have more than x number of employees. All larger businesses and lands are owned by the government,” he continued.

Before we write this off as the rantings of an old man from an old era, believing such things couldn’t happen in today’s world of “progress,” we need to look at what has happened to Venezuela. It is the perfect example of the path from capitalism to communism in real time. It is devastating to see what has happened to their country especially in the last 15 years. No one recognized it as socialism when Venezuela nationalized their oil industry in 1976. In fact, much of the world’s leaders were heralding it as a visionary move.

Shortly after that, President Jimmy Carter announced his Windfall Profit tax to redistribute profits from “greedy” oil companies.

Anyone who sat in long lines paying ridiculous high prices for gas probably considered this a great idea. After all, the oil companies were making all that money and we were scrimping to try and fill our gas tanks. It’s hard to believe that something so seemingly “generous” could lead to the collapse of an entire country, such as in the case of Venezuela, and yet that is exactly where it leads; as people like Peterffy are well aware.

When I asked Peterffy what his concerns were for America today he said our path to socialism citing the increasing number of Americans under 40 who think positively about socialism.

“It is difficult to get young people to think about this rationally,” he said. “They don’t seem to realize that in a free economy people can spend their money on whatever they choose.”

Surely that is a principle we can all get behind.

Do you want to decide how to spend the money you earn or do you want someone deciding it for you? It doesn’t matter how much money it is, whether $5 or $5 million. The principle is the same. If we want the freedom to live the American Dream then we have to stop criticizing others for doing so.

The fact is, America is more than geography. It is an ideal; a belief that everyone has equal opportunity, that we are all free to pursue our dreams and work hard to achieve them. It is the freedom to keep what we earn and decide for ourselves what we will do with it. It is the freedom to worship, to speak, to provide for our families, to live in peace and prosperity. There is so much to love about America; but if we don’t start sharing it with our children, our neighbors and friends, Americans will continue to hate America and I fear we will witness the answer to Mr. Prager’s question.

THE REAL REASON THERE’S SO MUCH HATE AND DISFUNCTION IN AMERICA…

We’ve become a country of hate.

We’ve become a country of blame and finger-pointing.

We’ve become a country of entitlement.

We’ve become a country that is all about ME… not about WE.

We’ve become a country that’s led to believe we must pick a side (and that anyone who disagrees with us is wrong).

We’ve become a country where morals have been thrown out the window.

What we’re witnessing today in American society disgusts me… In fact, I’m sick to my stomach with all the hate, one-sidedness, and a complete lack of respect for others.

So I wanted to do this blog post to bring some attention to the real problem at hand…

FIRST, HERE’S WHAT IS NOT THE CORE PROBLEM…

The problem is NOT politicians (there have been both good and bad politicians for thousands of years… nothing new here).

The problem is NOT Republicans and it is NOT Democrats (a political viewpoint is nothing more than a viewpoint from the people… it’s never the core problem).

The problem is NOT the media (media can only amplify the voices, behaviors, and morals of the society that it reports on… they are not the problem… the people are).

The problem is NOT income inequality (this too has been around for thousands of years… my guess is that there will always be large differences in income provided some people work harder, smarter, and take bigger risks than others).

The problem is NOT the police (for anyone who believes police are the issue, have you ever considered why they have a job in the first place? It’s to protect law-abiding citizens from the knuckleheads who can’t obey the law… if you want to disband the police, simply stop breaking the law and they won’t have a job…)

The problem is NOT racism (racism and discrimination have been going on for thousands of years… from race to religion… it’s not new and even if racism ended tomorrow, it still doesn’t fix the fundamental problems in America).

HERE’S THE REAL PROBLEM IN AMERICA…

The real problem can all be summed up in one quote from Time magazine…

“No society has ever survived after its family life deteriorated…”

Yes, the real reason we have so much hate and dysfunction in America is that we’ve ripped apart and bastardized the one thing that holds any society together… FAMILY.

Why is family so important?

Family is where you learn right from wrong.

Family is where you first learn to play together as a team.

Family is where you learn how to have healthy conversations and debates.

Family is where you learn that it’s ok to still love someone even if you don’t completely agree with them.

Family is where you learn it’s NOT ok to discriminate, that it’s NOT ok to treat others badly, and that it’s NOT ok to tease someone because they look different than you (regardless if it’s color of skin, handicapped, they way they dress, etc).

Family is where you learn that you aren’t entitled to anything… that you’ve got to put in the WORK for anything you want or desire.

Family is where you learn that you can’t be selfish… that it’s NOT all about you… it’s about the family UNIT.

Family is where you learn about LOVE and what it looks like to do good in God’s eyes…

Yet today we have hardly any focus on the family… it’s no longer a priority.

Today you’re considered weird if your family has sit-down dinners and prays at the table and has real discussions as a family…

Sadly, it’s now easier to disregard our families and blame anything we can point our fingers on as being the problem…

All while we celebrate and applaud the celebrities who cheat on their spouses and leave them for “better looking” replacements…

We celebrate divorces like they are nothing more than an 8th grader leaving their junior high sweetheart (have we completely forgotten that marriage is a covenant that every couple signed with their spouse and God).

What’s really sad is that we’ve forgotten what it means to be loving parents who are fully engaged with our children… it’s easier to just buy them a phone or have them sit in front of the TV than it is to be the loving parents that we know we’re called to be…

And hardly anyone has time to have a sit-down dinner with our family because we’re all too busy… I know the feeling… it’s not easy to be a good parent, it’s work!

STILL NOT SURE THAT A BREAKDOWN OF THE FAMILY IS THE CORE ISSUE?

Spend a day at your local prison and ask the prisoners who’ve committed the worst crimes what their family life was like… almost every single one of them will tell you they came from a broken and dysfunctional family.

Heck, spend a day at any public school in America and just ask the teachers what the biggest problem is… they’ll be quick to tell you that more and more kids lack parents who care… that countless parents are using public schools as daycare so they don’t have to put any work into their kids… that the family life in so many of these young children is non-existent… how sad.

How can we possibly expect anyone to know right from wrong and how to love thy neighbor if we’re not doing it as a family?

How can we expect to have a stable foundation as a society if there isn’t a stable family structure?

Simply put, a breakdown in the family results in a breakdown in society.

It’s really simple math… disrespectful kids with no foundation equal disrespectful adults with no moral compass…

That’s always been the case, there are just more of them today than at any time in American history.

Christian Nationalism: America’s Traditional Political Order

The following remarks were delivered on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, at the third annual National Conservatism Conference in Miami.

It is such a pleasure to be with all of you “semi-fascists” and “extreme threats to our democracy,” as the President affectionately calls you. And not just you, of course. When Biden refers to “semi-fascists” and existential “threats to our democracy,” he is referring to a larger group. He is referring to half of the country. He is referring to the “MAGA Republicans,” which is to say, statistically, the Republicans, which is to say, about half the country.

Which is strange thing to think: that “government of the people, by the people, for the people” could be threatened by the very existence of half of the people. That our “sacred,” two-party system faces the threat of annihilation if anyone even thinks of voting for the party out of power. Something certainly seems amiss about “our democracy.”

I suppose the first thing amiss about “our democracy” is that we don’t actually have a “democracy.” The men who built our country were deeply distrustful of democracy from the beginning — not just back in 1789, when our Constitution went into effect, or even 1776, when the Founding Fathers declared independence from Britain. It goes even further back to 1630, when Governor Winthrop described the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a shining “city upon a hill” and “a model of Christian charity,” and even further back, in 1620, when Governor Bradford and the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. All of those men, and especially the Framers of the Constitution, gave us a mixed regime with an executive power, an aristocratic element, and, of course, a strong democratic representation in a federal system that balanced power between three branches of government as well as between three distinct interests — the people, the states, and the higher unity of the people and the states — in a nation.

The nation has a physical aspect: spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, above a fruited plain from sea to shining sea. The nation, in its physical nature, has a body: that is, the body politic. But our nation, just like the people who constitute it, is not merely a body. Our nation, like all nations, is also a soul. It must be. The soul is the substantial form of the body. It is the intellectual principle of the body. The soul animates the body. Without the soul, the body is dead. A body politic must have a soul in order to live. So what animates America?

For most of American history, the answer was obvious: Christianity. The Pilgrims of the Mayflower undertook their voyage primarily “for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.” Our Founders and Framers established our nation, according to John Adams, “only for a moral and religious People.” Adams spelled out what he meant by morality and religion in 1813 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: “The general Principles, on which the Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which, that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite . . . the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were United.”

Adams’s clear articulation of the nation’s religious grounding poses a problem for the secularists who deny America’s Christian spirit because it contradicts another quote, also ostensibly from John Adams, on which the argument against America’s Christian character rests.

According to the secularists, John Adams declared in 1796 that “the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” So how do we make sense of that apparent contradiction? Here we see the proof of Alexander Pope’s warning that “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” Because when we look into the origin of the phrase, we find that it does not come from any founding document. It does not come from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist, or even the private papers of the men who built the country.

The statement comes, instead, from the Treaty of Tripoli, which, though signed by Adams, was not written by him. It was written by diplomat and Jeffersonian Republican Joel Barlow, and it was only written to persuade Muslim pirates to stop abducting and enslaving American sailors. The statement was not so much a statement of principle — or even of law — as it was a ransom payment by a struggling nation to international criminals.

When they were not attempting to placate Muslim pirates, our Founding Fathers spoke much more favorably of Christianity and its role in American public life. Adams, obviously, directly contradicted his own professed nonsense from the Treaty of Tripoli, and most if not all of the other Founders did as well. John Jay, co-author of the Federalist and the first chief justice of the United States, put it bluntly: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Had the ACLU existed at the time of the Founding, it no doubt would have taken the chief justice to court.

In 1814, Francis Scott Key composed his most famous poem, “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” in which he summed up the American creed:

“O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand / Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation! / Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land / Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! / Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, / And this be our motto — ‘In God is our trust!’ / And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The U.S. Navy recognized Key’s poem for official use in 1889. The White House followed suit in 1916, and it became the national anthem by congressional resolution in 1931 with the affirmation of then-president Herbert Hoover. In 1954, President Eisenhower added a variation of this near century-and-a-half-old national motto to the Pledge of Allegiance, and, as anyone with a dollar in his pocket knows, the motto also appears on all U.S. currency — an important reminder, especially these days, that it is a much safer bet to trust in God than in the value of the U.S. dollar.

I could go on citing the countless other evidences of America’s Christian character, but there is not enough time in this entire conference, let alone in a single speech. Suffice it to say, the soul of America is and always has been, essentially, Christian. And since the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, America is and has been a nation. So what does that make America’s traditional political order?

I am no academic. I do not have an advanced degree in political science. But it seems to me that if a political community is defined at the physical level as a nation — and not, say, an empire or city-state — and then is defined at the metaphysical level as Christian — and not, say, Zoroastrian — then that would mean the traditional political order of the United States is “Christian nationalism.” I fail to see how even the most zealous opponent of Christian nationalism could look at any epoch in the history of the United States and come to any other conclusion.

And yet today the liberal establishment considers “Christian nationalism” to be the most dangerous and radical idea in public life. How’s that? Simple. The liberal establishment detests the traditional American nation both in body and soul. At the level of the body, the liberals seek to disfigure the nation, most notably over the past sixty-some-odd years by erasing national borders and flooding the country with millions of foreign nationals — the largest migration of human beings in recorded history. And at the level of the soul, the liberals seek to corrupt the nation, perverting and, in fact, inverting the nation’s animating spirit: its moral and religious order.

Until 1963, public schools taught the Bible and banned pornography. Since 1963, public schools have banned the Bible and increasingly teach pornography. If you haven’t come across the children’s book “Gender Queer,” a pornographic comic book by Maia Kobabe, consider yourself lucky. Unfortunately, your children are not so lucky and very likely have come across the book in their middle school and high school libraries.

Much as we all might wish to dismiss the whole debate with some platitude about free speech, the question cannot be avoided because schools have to teach something. If the schools teach biblical morality, they cannot teach “gender queer” morality; if the schools teach “gender queer” morality, they cannot teach the biblical view. This inversion in the latter-half of the 20th century was not a development or evolution of our national character, nor was it a neutral expansion of free speech. It was a spiritual revolution. A change in religion. A reordering of the nation’s soul.

You can actually track this change as it occurred, year-by-year, using Google Ngram Viewer, a tool which demonstrates the prevalence of words and phrases in books over time. The phrase “Christian nation,” according to Google’s textual analysis, appears in English literature consistently from the 16th century onward, peaking in the middle of the19th century. The same goes for  “Christian country.” The same goes for “Christian civilization,” which really took off in the early 19th century, peaked around 1870, and has been declining steadily ever since. All as we might expect.

Where it gets a bit strange is when you look up the literary history of the phrase “liberal democracy,” which today we are told describes the very essence of our nation. It is simply taken as a given that America is, at her core, a “liberal democracy.” But the phrase “liberal democracy” appears pretty much nowhere, according to Google’s textual analysis, until about 1930. It didn’t really start to take off until the mid-1950s, and it really only spiked in usage around 1982. If “liberal democracy” constitutes the soul of our society, no one seemed to know about it until about 40 years ago.

The phrase “liberal democracy” appears nowhere in the text of the Constitution or the Federalist Papers or the Declaration of Independence. The word “liberal” appears in the Federalist Papers just five times — and then only in the classical sense to mean “generous.” Never once is it used to refer to the political ideology. Indeed, the word “democracy” and its derivations appear nowhere in the Constitution or the Declaration. It appears just 18 times in the Federalist, and each time it appears, it is invoked with disapproval. So how on earth did America become a “liberal democracy”?

By contrast, the word “nation,” along with its derivatives, appears in all three founding documents. It appears in the Federalist alone 569 times and always with approval. The Federalist proposes that America “should, to all general purposes, be one nation, under one federal government.” America’s body politic, according to the Founding Fathers, would be national and her soul, Christian. One might call it, “Christian nationalism.”

Liberals hate Christian nationalism, not because it is a departure from the American political tradition, but because it is the American political tradition, which the liberals do not like. Liberals hate Christian nationalism because it is the opposite of atheist globalism, which is the scheme they prefer. The term “liberal democracy” lends itself to this agenda of atheist globalism by diverting the nation’s attention away, at the physical level, from its own citizens in favor of the ever-expanding international community of supposed “democracies,” and by turning the nation’s soul away at the metaphysical level, from our common good — which can only come from God — toward the glittering idol of individualism and choice.

The Left has led this spiritual and physical mutilation of our country. I think of it as a sort of “gender reassignment surgery” for the nation, one that has turned a once-beautiful creature in the image and likeness of God into a grotesque caricature fashioned after our own fantasies and delusions. The leftists led the transformation. But to be fair, they didn’t meet much resistance from the conservatives. They couldn’t have. Such a radical restructuring of the nation’s body and spirit could never have taken place in so short a period of time had the conservatives had even a smidge of the clarity and courage necessary to conserve anything at all.

The conservatives have failed to conserve the nation and continue to fail each day because they fall into the trap laid by the liberals. They fail to recognize the importance of both the nation’s body and soul, as well as the connection between them.

Consider how conservatives have attempted in vain to stop the spread of transgenderism. The liberals argue that there is a difference between biological sex and gender expression. (It is a little more complicated than that, since some excitable liberals claim that there is such a thing as a “biologically female phallus” and “biologically male uterus.”) But at their most coherent, liberals ground their arguments for transgenderism in a distinction between sex and gender.

And how do conservatives argue against it? To date, we simply claim that there’s no such thing as gender expression. We cite facts about genitals and chromosomes, and we appeal to the same sort of reductive, soul-denying scientism that the liberals used to get us into this mess in the first place. But, of course, there is such a thing as “gender expression.” Of course men can be effeminate and women masculine. Of course the behaviors and self-conceptions of men and women can differ from those implied by their physical bodies. Of course living bodies have souls which lack chromosomes and genitals, but, nevertheless, are real. The reason transgenderism is wrong is not that there is no distinction between the physical and metaphysical self, the symbol and the symbolized, the body and the soul. The reason that transgenderism is wrong is that men aren’t supposed to act like women. Transgenderism is wrong because there very much is a distinction between our sex and the way in which we express our sex — and we have a duty to express our sex in the correct way.

“Duty” was once a common concept among conservatives. In many ways, it defined conservative thought. Edmund Burke, as he laments the passing of “the age of chivalry” for “that of sophisters, economists, and calculators,” eulogizes “that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom!” Such notions are considered ridiculous today, not only on the Left, but also in many quarters of the Right, which has forsaken duty, sacrifice, obedience, and submission in favor of the same babble about rights and entitlement for which we once rightly mocked the Left.

At other times, when conservatives are not denying the soul in a misguided effort to own the libs, we fall into the opposite error and deny the body. We see this especially in the case of immigration. For decades, self-styled conservatives have denied the physical aspect of the nation entirely, parroting the liberal platitude that America is nothing but “an idea.” Not a place, not a people — just an idea. Even the most hardline mainstream conservatives on the issue have denied that there would be any reason to curtail the unrestricted flow of foreigners into the United States, insisting instead — quite to the contrary — that America should embrace more immigration than ever, just so long as the immigration is legal. But a nation that does not have any practical borders, a nation that does not in any way distinguish its own people from any other people, is not a nation at all. A living nation must have an idea to animate it — it must have a soul — but it must also have a body, without which the soul cannot act in time and space.

The central thesis of Joe Biden’s presidency, articulated in the earliest days of his campaign and reiterated just last week, is that we are now engaged in a battle for the soul of our nation. If you don’t believe him, look no further than his appointees. Biden’s assistant health secretary is a man who thinks he’s a woman and demands we castrate little kids. Biden’s deputy assistant energy secretary is a psychosexual sadist who dresses grown men up in leather dog outfits and photographs himself dragging them around on a leash. And Biden’s new deputy monkeypox coordinator is a store-brand Anton LaVey, whose headshot depicts him wearing a leather pentagram chest harness atop his pentagram pectoral tattoo. Now, in Biden’s defense, he never did tell us which side of the battle he is on. If personnel is policy, our nation’s soul is in trouble. And if that bizarre speech Biden made a couple of weeks ago — the angry one in the dark with the infernal red backdrop and the screaming and the gesticulating — is any indication, the President wants to take the soul of our nation straight down to the bad place.

Ronald Reagan rightly understood that, ultimately, “there is no such thing as a Left or Right” — that when you really get down to it, “there is only an up or down.” And in time and space, we must always be moving in one direction or the other. There can be no stasis. There can be no neutrality. Political communities must have a shape and a shared end. In vibrant political communities, the various parts of the body politic fulfill the function and duty proper to their role, and all of the parts work together toward the common good — or the body politic will atrophy and die. The Left is mounting a concerted attack on our nation’s body and soul. The leftists wish for our traditional nation to die. It remains to be seen whether conservatives will muster the wisdom to understand this fact and the will to live. We have before us a choice between life and death, blessing and cursing. If we are to have any political future at all, we conservatives at least must choose life — life in body and in soul — that the United States and our descendants may live.

Resources

the guardian.com, “‘A perpetual state of love and hate’: readers on what it means to be American.” By Rachel Obordo; woltersworld.com, “Five Things Tourists Love & Hate about Visiting The USA.”; thewestendnews.com, “Patriotism: Hate Your Government, Love Your Country.” By Sam Shain; vagabondish.com, “Why I Love and Hate Being an American.”; theleafchronicle.com, “Opinion | Patriotism rooted in love of country, nationalism in hate of others.” By Marna Maldavs; psychologytoday.com, “Do Democrats Hate America? Anger from the left has been boiling over. But do Democrats really hate America?” By Mike Brooks PhD.; thepublicdiscourse.com, “What It Means To Love Our Country.” By Kian Hudson; the blaze.com, “Why Do Americans Hate America? Why is that people from other countries know what there is to love about America but our citizens don’t?” By KIMBERLY FLETCHER; saltstrong.com, “THE REAL REASON THERE’S SO MUCH HATE AND DISFUNCTION IN AMERICA…” By Joseph Simonds; dailywire.com, “Christian Nationalism: America’s Traditional Political Order.” By Michael Knowles;

Miscellaneou(Military, Voting, Economy , Religion and etc) Postings
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/11/27/dominion-voting-system-exposed/
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https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/09/27/voter-fraud-with-mail-in-ballots-fact-or-fiction/
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https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/09/09/voting-along-party-lines-is-old-school/
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https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/09/22/do-we-need-military-bases-in-every-country/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/12/25/navarro-2020-election-report-examined/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/01/01/did-brad-parscale-almost-bankrupt-the-trump-2020-election/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/02/02/what-gives-people-the-right/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/02/04/the-origins-of-the-term-gaslighting/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/03/16/election-reform/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/03/16/voter-fraud-in-2020-revisited/
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https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/03/23/the-history-of-unions-in-america/
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