When my seven-year-old daughter asked me this question last night, I was gutted. Do I, the daughter of a Harley-riding, ultra-conservative, flag-flying World War II veteran, love America? I, who lives the American Dream? Granddaughter of orphan and immigrants; waitress and community college student-turned-Harvard and Stanford grad, do I love America? I have always been a patriot! I welled up with tears when I first heard that the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the United States armed forces was the 442nd Infantry Regiment in World War II–an all Japanese regiment, many of whose soldiers had family in internment camps. (I’m getting goose bumps right now!) I could weep with gratitude and respect for the many, many fine soldiers who died for America and what she stands for.
Or perhaps I should say, what she stood for. I’m afraid my patriotism has crossed the Rubicon.
Until a few years ago, I was of the mindset that no matter how far America had fallen, she was still the best country that ever existed. I never gave up hope that her foundations would withstand the vicissitudes of special interest politics and the pendulum would swing back to her birthright: defense of liberty and respect for private property. Unfortunately, I have come to believe that America will not swing back. It seems inevitable that rather than returning to a free and prosperous America within the system that made her great, America will fall and have to be rebuilt on a new foundation.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the system to collapse! As the youngest of nine growing up in a small house, I dreamt of having a big enough share of the bed and a dry towel to use. I have these things now and they are better than I imagined! I’m as happy as a clam to be living at the pinnacle of 10,000 years of civilization’s progress, better off than almost every single one of the 125 billion people who have come before me (as is everyone reading this). But the fact is, I think Ron Paul is right about the future of America. During a recent interview on LewRockwell.com, Dr. Paul said he didn’t think our politicians would do the things that needed to be done to save the system, and particularly that the currency would have an irremediable crisis. He said that his goal is to make sure people are ready with the right ideas to try to rebuild this once-great country instead of being swept along in the wrong direction. (Recall Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” The globalists are lying in wait.)
The question remains, however: Do I love America? For the first time ever, I have to think seriously about this question. I think blind patriotism is dangerous, and that good feeling you get when you salute the flag and feel proud to be an American is exactly what lets our government get away with murder. But what about the American Experiment? It does make us different from any other nation, doesn’t it? I think so. The idea that a government was dedicated to liberty and justice for all instead of privilege for some was unique and it spawned many of the greatest achievements of mankind. Unfortunately, the experiment was destined to fail and it has. (See my review of Democracy: The God That Failed.)
In puzzling over the answer to my daughter´s question, I realize that I have come to recognize a more sophisticated understanding of nationhood. The idea that America as a nation ís the same as America as a country is the essence of the American Experiment. ´We the People´ were the government for once, in contrast with the traditional tension between citizenry and government personified in the hated tax-collector. America´s democratic republic was supposed to bring government under the control of the people and by so doing allow us to identify with government as protector of liberty and of individual rights. The reality is, however, to quote the great Ludwig von Mises, ¨Government is the negation of liberty,¨ and the failure of the American Experiment proves this once and for all. Through the evolution of my political philosophy and in recognizing the error that is government, Í acknowledge that a society´s identity is independent from the identity of its over-arching coercive state. I now see that America and its people are not only separate from the government, but that we are in conflict with that government.
So, yes, in short, I do love America. I love the libertarians and the drop-outs and the billionaires, I love the Ron Pauls and the Steve Jobs, I love the truckers and the waitresses and the day-traders and the bloggers, I love the pot-head comedians and the crazy New York City cabdrivers, and I love the seven-year-old girls who actually want to know the difference between a libertarian and an anarcho-capitalist (well she is my daughter!) Yes I do love America, but no longer for its flag or its rhetoric, but for the fact that if society is ever to triumph over government it will be here, where Americans still know that America is ¨We the People¨ and not ¨It the State.¨