Over at TPM Cafe, the amazingly talented Matt Yglesias reports on some research that says most Americans believe that "America is the Greatest Country in the World," but less than half think "Democrats believe that America is the Greatest Country in the World." Matt wonders if the poll isn't reflecting correctly that many on the left are uncomfortable with the idea that America is "the Greatest." Here's my comment, cross-posted at the "Matt Yglesias" section of TPM Cafe:
From what I hear, most of the Left's discomfort with the "America, the Greatest" idea derives from concern about what the Right has been doing here the last 10-15 years or so (with the growing support of a majority of Americans). From that perspective, I am certainly in the "not comfortable" category regarding America #1.
But if I take a step back, and think about the many things we still do right in this country (at least until the Repubs push us back even more), I get totally comfortable. No country on earth embraces diversity and tolerance to the extent that we do. No country on earth values free speech more than we do. No country on earth has higher hopes and dreams for itself and the other nations on the globe.
Now, I know the Right is hacking away at this. But our day will come. We will stop their effort to take us back to the 19th century (or even further), and will reverse the damage they have done. I know we will even re-start the progressive march our society had been until they made progress their sworn enemy.
How do I know this? Because no nation on earth has a better system for allowing its people to work out their differences. Corrupt media blocking voters from real information? Well, our good old American ingenuity and spirit is devising ways around that. Corrupt politicians gaming the system and stacking the courts? We are starting with local school boards and working our way up. One way or another, we will overcome adversity. We always have, and I believe we always will.
Boiled down, I see us as suffering a crisis of leadership. I love Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi as much as the next America-hating liberal, but they are not leaders in any transcendant way. I'm not sure we've had real leaders since Kennedy. The right's veneration of W shows how much people want strong leaders. He's an idiot and they worship him.
Carville said sometime in the last year or two that our next great leader probably isn't even in politics at this point. He or she may be 17 years old right now, or working as an inner city math teacher. What I do know for sure is that without Ronald Reagan the Right wouldn't be where it is today. (Nor would we have had the success we did without FDR.) The next leader of that stature is coming -- I have enough faith in my fellow Americans to believe that such a person will rise up in due course. And that that leader will restore our confidence that America is indeed the greatest nation on earth.
Until then, we'll just continue with the business of finding political cannon fodder.