Jonah Goldberg: Liberals dislike America
A new Pew survey found that 44 percent of Americans don’t often feel pride in being an American, and only 28 percent said that America is the greatest country in the world. Respondents who “often feel proud to be American” were overwhelmingly conservative (from 72 percent to 81 percent depending on the kind of conservative). A majority (60 percent) of “solid liberals” said they don’t often feel proud to be an American.
Georgia Rep. John Lewis recently said that, “If the Civil Rights Act was before the Congress today, it would not pass, it would probably never make it to the floor for a vote.” Lewis is right. If it came before the Congress today, it wouldn’t pass. You know why? Because we passed it 50 years ago. If, somehow, we had Jim Crow today, the American people — and Congress — would vote to abolish it in a landslide.
A legitimate hero of the civil rights era, Lewis has adopted the liberal habit of suggesting that his political opponents have a burning desire to return to the era of Jim Crow. At the 2012 Democratic convention, for instance, he gave a thundering speech that equated a vote for Mitt Romney with going back to the era of segregation.
Why liberals have become so comfortable running down America is no doubt complicated, but I think one part of the answer is obvious. Liberals tend to equate patriotism with the government. Obama was supposed to usher in a glorious new era of European-style big government. He’s failed, though alas not entirely. But in the attempt he aroused a populist movement — the Tea Parties — full of people who wore their traditional patriotism on their sleeves and tricorn hats. The forces of American exceptionalism proved formidable, taking advantage of our exceptional constitutional structure to thwart European social democracy.
Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor-at-large of National Review Online. You can write to him in care of this newspaper or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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