The idea of American exceptionalism has been embedded in our collective DNA for generations. It is the faith-based belief that, as Ronald Reagan put it, America is a "shining city on a hill."
Do modern liberals believe that?
I almost never try to get into the other side's head or ascribe ill motives to those on the left. They are, I've always believed, misguided, not malign.
But I'm having second thoughts after listening to Barack Obama's defense of communism/socialism when he was in Argentina. He advised young people to get behind "what works" economically -- as if there is some deep mystery here.
Obama didn't misspeak. The modern left in America really has come to believe that communism, socialism, Marxism and totalitarianism -- or other terms for the monopolization of power into the hands of a ruling elite -- are superior to free-market capitalism.
The president of the United States is supposed to be the global spokesman for free enterprise. But, instead of traveling to Cuba to point out to the world the decades of stagnation, deprivation and dehumanization at the hands of the Castros, and instead of using this moment in history to showcase the triumph of capitalism 90 miles away, Obama praises Cuba's health care and education systems.
He might as well have been praising Mussolini for making the trains run on time. Even more unbelievable: The media applauded.
How far the Democratic Party has fallen. Can anyone imagine Obama, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders having the gumption or wisdom to tell Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall"?
It wasn't so long ago that leading Democrats -- JFK, Harry Truman and even the AFL CIO -- were staunch enemies of communism. Today, there is no place for such beliefs within the progressive Democratic Party. If it involves ceding power to the state, the left is all for it -- as evidenced by the rise of Bernie Sanders.
But for every action, there is a reaction, and the left's lunacy has given momentum to the tumultuous uprising on the right this year. Millions of voters who support Donald Trump want our government to put America first and focus on our own mounting problems at home, then worry about Europe, Israel, the melting ice caps, AIDS in Africa and so on. If your house is burning down, you put out that fire and save your own children trapped on the second floor, before you go down the street and put the fire out at your neighbors' house.
Here's just one observational data point that, admittedly, is anecdotal but speaks volumes about the left-right divide in America. At a typical Donald Trump or Ted Cruz rally, you will see American flags waving everywhere. These are patriotic gatherings. At Sanders events, you will see some flags, but not many -- because if you are a leftist, it's not cool to love America. What is much cooler is wearing a Che Guevera T-shirt.
At a Republican rally, you typically meet many veterans who served our country with honor and valor. Some who protest at Trump rallies detest those who are wearing military uniforms and call them fascists and give the Nazi salute. I've seen it happen. I want to grab these brats and shout at them like Jack Nicholson did in "A Few Good Men": "I would rather you just said 'thank you' and went on your way."
Trump voters see America losing both the economic and cultural wars vital to national survival. We have a $19 trillion national debt that has doubled in the past decade. We have wages flat or falling for most Americans. We have a political class that is actively trying to destroy whole industries -- coal production, oil and gas, community banks and so many others.
We have a president (along with the intellectual class) pushing a radical climate change agenda that will cost the middle class millions of jobs, but won't change the global temperature by a hundredth of a degree. Trade deals seem to be drafted to benefit foreign workers and businesses over our own. America pays far more than its share for programs like the United Nations and NATO. Our public schools put teachers first, not kids, and they often don't adequately educate.
We have courts overturning the will of the people in state after state on issues such as gay marriage. We have speech police. We have illegal immigrants who work here and live here and then wave the Mexican flag at rallies, as if to be intentionally offensive. (And I'm in favor of immigration.) Then they wonder why Americans want a wall.
We have the TSA searching the underwear of infants but letting certain adults pass through without inspection because we wouldn't want to be accused of profiling. We have a Justice Department thinking about prosecuting people for questioning the climate change "consensus."
This is the same crowd that seems to prefer the economic systems in Sweden and Greece and Cuba over America's. They preach human rights, but they don't seem to understand that economic freedom is a core human right.