It wasn't that long ago that both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates sounded proud to be Americans. That, broadly speaking, both parties sounded patriotic, deeply appreciative of our heritage. That is certainly not the case today.
One party is proud of America, the other ashamed. One party recognizes the serious errors of our past but sees a greatness beyond that. The other party sees us as defined by our errors and failings.
On Saturday, I tweeted, "Do you remember the day (not that long ago) when both the Democrats and Republicans sounded patriotic?"
In response, Raymond E. Grim commented, "This 4th of July I really saw the separation between the Rs and Ds on love of our country. The Rs talked about the greatness of our country. The Ds complained about President Trump and patriotism."
And my colleague at Stream.org, John Zmirak, wrote, "Yep. The VENEER of patriotism was kept up under Obama, but only to allow him to 'fundamentally transform' the country. (Remember Michelle wasn't proud of America till HE GOT ELECTED.)"
It is not surprising that it was a Republican, Senator Ted Cruz, who exposed Colin Kaepernick's selective quotations from Frederick Douglass, which Kaepernick posted on July 4th.
The former NFL quarterback wanted Americans to remember the perspective of Douglass, who famously said, "What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine" And, "There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour."
Sen. Cruz pointed out that this speech was delivered in 1852, more than a decade before the Civil War. That makes a big difference.
Cruz then cited some of the closing words of this important speech, which included: "Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably, work the downfall of slavery. 'The arm of the Lord is not shortened,' and the doom of slavery is certain."
And, "I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from 'the Declaration of Independence,' the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age."
It is this note of hope, of national pride, of confidence in the solid foundations of our country, that is so lacking in today's Democratic Party:
—The Founding Fathers were bad men. (I can virtually guarantee you that the voting districts and educational institutions most upset with the Founding Fathers tilt heavily Democrat.)
—Capitalism is evil. (Oh, if only we were a socialist country!)
—Whiteness is shameful, especially when it is male whiteness. (And our country was founded by white men and is run by white men until this day.)
—Yes, we have a lot of apologizing to do. In fact, we need to apologize simply for being ourselves. It's embarrassing to be an American.
—Illegal aliens are heroes, and we are morally obligated to support them and provide their health insurance. In contrast, secure borders are selfish and a strong military is hateful.
And on and on it goes, coming to a head on this Fourth of July.
As John Nolte wrote, "Because Democrats and the media have to be (obscenity) about absolutely everything America-related, rather than join President Trump in celebrating America on the Fourth, they—no joke—raged against the idea of celebrating the birth of our great nation in our nation's capital."
Interestingly, while taking a taxi from Manhattan to LaGuardia airport this past Tuesday, my driver, who came to the States from Pakistan in 1992, said to me, "No one who moves to America from another country goes back home."
Obviously, this was not meant to be a scientifically accurate statement, but the overall sentiment is undeniably true.
America is the land of opportunity, incredibly so.
America is the "can-do" country, where anything seems possible.
America is the desired destination of countless millions who would love to make our country their home.
America is the land of freedom. (When I asked on the radio this week, "What are some of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of our country?", one of my staff members replied, "The fact that we can have this conversation openly is one of our greatest strengths.")
Without a doubt, from a prophetic perspective, America has many serious needs and is guilty of many sins. Having written books referring to our sickly condition, I would be the last to dispute this assessment.
And it is part of the duty of gospel ministers to call us to repentance and change. Count me in for that, on virtually a daily basis.
But America is also an amazing country, a country with wonderful roots. And one would expect our political leaders to celebrate our heritage rather than denigrate it.
Even political pragmatism would suggest that you would have a better chance of rallying voters by cultivating a healthy sense of national pride rather than a crippling sense of national shame.
So, by all means, let's recognize our ongoing problems and address our very real shortcomings.
But let's do so realizing that we really are privileged to live here in America, which was and is intended to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
May our political leaders take heed.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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