A couple of great, progressive takes on Independence Day:
You can be certain that on this, as on every July 4th, patriotic oratory will flow as well from liberals declaring their love of flag, country and the Declaration of Independence. Many will speak of how our constitutional republic is to be revered especially for its guarantees of liberty and justice for all and -- hint, hint -- limits on the powers of overreaching monarchs.
But the progressive and the reformer have a problem with what passes for unadulterated patriotism. By nature, the reformer is bound to insist that the country, however glorious, is not a perfect place, that it is capable of doing wrong as well as right. The nation that declared "all men are created equal" was, at the time those words were written, the home of an extensive system of slavery.
Most reformers guard their patriotic credentials by moving quickly to the next logical step: that the true genius of America has always been its capacity for self-correction. I'd assert that this is a better argument for patriotism than any effort to pretend that the Almighty has marked us as the world's first flawless nation.
I think patriotism starts with telling the truth. Truth is the American bottom line. I don't think it's an accident that among the first words of the first declaration of our national existence it is proclaimed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident...".
Patriotism also means dissent -- when it's hardest. The bedrock of America's greatest advances--the foundation of what we know today are defining values--was formed not by cheering on things as they were, but by taking them on and demanding change. [...]
So, on this Fourth of July, the bottom line is that we will only be stronger if we reclaim America's true character and strength -- if we declare our independence from a politics that lets America down --if we truly commit ourselves to the big hearted patriotism determined "to 'make it right' and "keep it right" once again.
Happy 4th, everyone.
-- Guest Post by Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report