Sure, there has been and still is, plenty wrong with the Great Republic. The struggle to improve is eternal.
American liberals who celebrate the inherent greatness of the country's political system - who look beyond its failures and look to its strengths for support - will convince more of their countrymen that progressivism is innately American.
But to do that, they have to choose love, over the grudge.
It seems that there are so many stupid patriots, some people have decided that it is stupid to be a patriot.
This I think captures a great weakness of some American liberal thinking – the habitual denigration of the country and fear of celebrating its marked advantages over other countries. A shying away from the glories of the country’s history, cultural legacy and institutional strengths, because large swaths of that history were harshly injust. Or because the current politcal climate is so toxic.
But if Americans have inherited such great possibility and historical achievement, how smart is it to ignore that while critiquing the nation’s flaws? It is neither fair nor accurate. It is like hating your sister for life, because she stole your boyfriend in high school. If you choose your grievance over your sister, what you will have is a bad memory and grudge where love might be.
This error robs liberals of their most powerful argument: that America was meant to be progressive. That the Enlightenment tenets of the Founders were radically liberal – not conservative, not collectivist, not socialist, but humanistic and individualist. A philosophy and government structure imbued with the seed of liberty- which inevitably translates into a lifting of burdens from the oppressed. As it has done and will continue to do.
But to express that, one must believe it, and to believe it, one must choose love over the grudge.