The United States of America is, among many other things, a nation, and the Left has long made clear its contempt for nationalism, patriotism, and other relics of what it considers to be humanity’s benighted “tribal” past. It is partly for this broad ideological reason that many liberals reject the symbols of America—the “stars and stripes,” the Pledge of Allegiance, the Constitution, or a statue of George Washington, for instance.
Nationalism is not the only reason, however. Leftists also believe America is not merely a nation, but a bad nation—a nation defined by oppression, which the Left sees everywhere.
It is telling that as racism and sexism have ebbed in the United States by every objective measure, the Left nonetheless perceives an increase in prejudice and discrimination. No wonder, then, that many leftists feel justified in rejecting the most popular symbols of America. They have concluded that ours is a country beyond redemption—or “irredeemable,” to borrow a term from the last Democratic nominee for president. The election of Donald Trump confirms this belief.
The result has been a cratering of liberal patriotism: the gap between the percentage of Republicans and Democrats who are “extremely proud” to be Americans has ballooned to 42 points (74 percent compared to 32 percent) in 2018. Just 23 percent of self-described liberals are “extremely proud” of this country. (Incidentally, even during the Obama years, conservatives and Republicans were more patriotic than liberals and Democrats.)
Consider some anecdotal evidence as well: recently, a government-funded charter school in Atlanta abandoned the Pledge of Allegiance in deference to the negative “emotions” it evokes in students and parents. (The school rescinded the policy after a national outcry.) A local elected official in Connecticut has begun to kneel during the pledge of allegiance, in imitation of the protests that recently swept through the world of professional sports. Last week, we witnessed a renewal of those protests by NFL players, who seem indifferent to the lasting damage they are inflicting on “America’s game.”
Meanwhile, churches, municipal parks, schools, and universities are reconsidering their public memorials not only to Confederate leaders, but to Founding Fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The New York Times published an article claiming that the U.S. Constitution is an “outdated relic” and that “the subversion of democracy was the explicit intent of the Constitution’s framers.” The American flag was burned at a recent demonstration in support of firebrand congresswoman and Trump-hater Maxine Waters. The contempt for the country among a certain segment of the “liberal” Left is palpable.
One of the most telling pieces of evidence that anti-American sentiment is viewed as legitimate on the Left is the oft-repeated threat by liberal celebrities, and even ordinary Democrats, prior to November 2016 that they would leave the country if Trump won the election. Virtually none of them were foolish enough to follow through, of course, but the mere fact that they would give voice to such ideas is a testament to their lack of faith in American democracy, the American people, and the American spirit.
Quite a few leftists are more loyal and devoted to their cherished ideals of political correctness and creeping socialism than they are to the United States of America as a nation and as a people. That is a sad thing to have to say about one’s fellow countrymen, but it is inescapably true.
Can the Midterms Relieve the Tension?
The last time that the symbols and basic institutions of America were under such sustained assault was during the Johnson and Nixon years, when the U.S. public was sharply divided by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights era. The Left succeeded in ushering President Nixon out of office, yes, but it didn’t succeed in pulling the wool over the American people’s eyes.
Americans saw every night on their television screens confirmation of the extremism, spitefulness, and anti-American apostasy of left-wing activists. In those days, as is the case now, liberal rage boiled over and produced criminality and violence, usually on a small scale, but sometimes in the form of mass protests, riots, and terrorism.
The result was predictable: Americans recoiled. They increasingly turned to the right, to the voices of patriotism and “law and order,” and to the Republican Party, which flourished and achieved its greatest electoral successes since the 1920s in the ensuing decades. The ultimate product of the leftist descent into anti-Americanism and radicalism was therefore the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, when he ran on a platform of restoring American greatness.
One has to wonder whether the American people’s response to the stridency, extremism, and disloyalty of the modern Left will be the same as it was in the 1970s and ’80s. President Trump says the 2018 midterm elections will bring a “red wave,” and Americans will reject the Left’s hysterical Trump-hatred, its obsession with impeachment, its advocacy of open borders, its dalliance with socialism, its ill-considered embrace of identity politics and political correctness, and, perhaps most of all, leftist contempt for America itself.
The talking heads guffaw, but history suggests that Trump may be right.
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