I Love My Country, But Let’s Not Kid Ourselves.

Dennis Sanders

Dennis is the pastor of a small Protestant congregation outside St. Paul, MN and also a part-time communications consultant. A native of Michigan, you can check out his writings over on Medium and subscribe to his Substack newsletter on religion and politics called Polite Company.  Dennis lives in Minneapolis with his husband Daniel.

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49 Responses

  1. Pinky says:

    This election wasn’t about race, and the post-election controversies weren’t about race. It wasn’t about race in Florida in 2000, or Ohio in 2004, or Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan in 2016. Close elections get heated. This time we had a perfect storm of broadened voting procedures, close elections, and a two-months-long presidential temper tantrum.

    The violence was probably mostly white but who cares rioters against probably mostly white but who cares officers protecting probably mostly white but who cares Congressmen. It was about the certification of a white president-elect over his white opponent. Pence is white, and Kamala is (from what I hear) a cop, a Jamaican-Indian who managed to garner no votes in her presidential run. I only mention her background because it seems to matter to African-Americans, who also haven’t embraced her Jewish husband.

    The violence last year, where people were shouting racial slogans, was about race. This wasn’t.Report

    • InMD in reply to Pinky says:

      I think you’re right Pinky. But I also think it was about something worse. A concerted, cynical, evidence-free attack on the electoral process by an executive who has (also without evidence) asserted every election he has run in was rigged, including, most bizarrely, those he won. Now I didn’t think the muttering in 2016 was right either but let’s not let that unprincipled crap prevent us from calling a spade a spade.Report

      • Pinky in reply to InMD says:

        A spade is a spade. (That feels weird to say in a thread about race.) Trump was wrong, to an extent that impeachment is a reasonable part of the conversation. The point of my comment wasn’t to restate my disgust at what Trump has said and done but to argue that framing this in terms of race isn’t reasonable. A thing can be wrong without being racist.

        I could accept this article if it stuck with the point that African-Americans see the incident in light of historical oppression. It’s a bit of a pompous argument, but I wouldn’t have felt the need to comment on it. But this article says the event was about race, and that’s nonsense.Report

        • Ozzzy! in reply to Pinky says:

          I’m sure there’s a snappy bridge quip in there somewhere about an elite suit calling a spade may be a spade, and a response of something like: no trump takes the hand, or something like that. Would probably make for a good tweet.Report

        • InMD in reply to Pinky says:

          Fair point (including that I didn’t think too hard about that expression before using it).

          But I agree that there’s a lot of question begging in the classical sense that goes on with these assertions.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

      This election wasn’t about race, and the fact that Trump lied about the election being stolen in cities with large minority populations (Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta) is a complete coincidence.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Your point is that claims of fraud were about race, claims that were backed by 140 or so elected GOPers and about 75% of Republican voters. That’s a bit different. I totally understand that Pinky wasn’t aware of those facts when he wrote what he did.Report

  2. Doctor Jay says:

    Thank you for writing this Dennis. Keep speaking up.

    Saying “I enjoy this” doesn’t really fit. I need it, though. I need to know about it. Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power.Report

  3. Chip Daniels says:

    The biggest error we Americans make is to imagine that all the struggles are ended and victory is safe.
    It isn’t, and never will be.

    The struggle to establish dignity and equality to all persons is going to be a never ending one.Report

    • Doctor Jay in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I was just thinking about this very thing. I think it’s kind of like having a nice lawn. You can’t just throw out some grass seed and say, “done!”. No, you have to mow it. You have to pull weeds. You have to water it, you have to fertilize it sometimes.

      So you can neglect it and have a weed-infested mess. Or you can cut it every day, roll it every week for 500 years and have one of those marvels that you see in England.Report

  4. greginak says:

    Really good piece Dennis. I too love my country but we have been terrible at times and not just long ago. To many people can’t integrate those two points. We aim high and strive to be great but to often have been as bad as any country has ever been. This is who we have been very recently: paranoid, racist and violent. We have to struggle against this forever.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

      Is it a bannable offense to say that I *don’t* love my country? Honestly, I don’t even know what the expression means. It’s not like my country is my kid or parent. It’s just the place I was born. One reason I don’t love my country is that the celebration of ignorance and arrogance we call “Trumpism” defines who we are as a people. Trump is often (conveniently) identified as the cause of Where We Are, but he isn’t. He’s just an opportunist.

      Likewise, the pre-Trump years weren’t all that fucking great either. Except for the wealthy. The highlights of the post-Nixon presidencies are Reagan reducing taxes on the rich and Bill Clinton offshoring American manufacturing jobs, and George Bush illegally invading a foreign country.

      I don’t love my country. But I do think that any hope for this country going forward includes a repudiation of populist insurrections against the worst-except-for-all-the-rest type of government we actually have. For better or worse, the politicians we elect and the policies they enact are *who we are* as a country. And the GOP has elected apologists – and in some cases accomplices – who support a coup on that system.
      Don’t love those folks.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Moderation? Do curse words trigger mod? I wrote the word “fucking”.Report

      • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

        I don’t think it should be a bannable offense. Though I do try to keep my flag waving immigrant grandmother in mind whenever I despair. There’s a reason people will still go through hell to get here. Like, what complaints do I really have that would resonate with my recently arrived Ethiopian neighbors?

        Of course being better than the most dysfunctional and sclerotic parts of the world is a floor and not a ceiling. And to your second and third paragraph we really have a challenge here. We’ve reached the point where post truth populist insurrections and the totally-out-of-ideas bought and paid for post war establishment are running cover for each other. That’s not sustainable and I question the judgment (sanity?) of anyone with any sort of emotional attachment to either.Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        It is bannable to say you love the country just to get in it’s pants then ghost it the next day. Other then that F away. Do i love my wife because she is an objectively better human than others. No, i love her because i love her. I love my country for lots of reasons, none of them particularly rational. Does that mean the good ol US of A is better than other countries. No. I am more than happy to have people from Ghana, Luxembourg and Thailand to love their countries. Got a great Obama speech saying this kind of thing but it broke conservatives brains the first time.

        America has been great while at the same time as being not all that great. The highlights of the pre trump years were lots of immigrants coming here and successfully building lives so their grandchildren could eventually turn into selfish ass regular old Americans. But we could use a lot more immigrants.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

          The highlights of the pre trump years were lots of immigrants coming here and successfully building lives so their grandchildren could eventually turn into selfish ass regular old Americans.

          Truer words have never been spoken, err, written, my friend.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to greginak says:

      Hmmm, what triggers moderation anymore?

      Anyway, I got a comment in mod.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Stillwater says:

        Dude, I just spent 5 minutes pondering the question of what triggers political moderation in the context of greginak’s observation about extremism.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Pinky says:

          You’ve been an apologist for the GOP during the Trump presidency, yes? I understand your confusion.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Stillwater says:

            I think the key is humility. To not overestimate or underestimate yourself. Believe in your principles, not yourself, and it’s easier to stay loyal to those principles.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Pinky says:

              Really? That’s your response?

              Dude. You should be *apologizing* right about now.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Stillwater says:

                I felt like my comment addressed both the big-picture issue of how to keep perspective across a difficult presidential term and the small-picture issue of how to keep perspective when someone makes a good-natured reply about misreading a comment.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Pinky says:


              • Pinky in reply to Stillwater says:

                I feel like you could benefit from reading about “I” language as a tool for blunting criticism.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Pinky says:

                Pinky, I understand that you confuse your feelings for facts. I’m not sure why I need to read anything to clarify that point though. But if it’s a worthwhile topic maybe you could explain it to me in an OP-length essay about the origins and thought processes of Christian conservatism. It’d be nice for you to, so to speak, lay your cards on the table.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                This will be a useful change of topic you can respond to Pinky:

                A majority of Republicans, 51%, say GOP leaders who supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the election *did not go far enough* via ABC/Washington Post poll. Only 16% say they went too far; 27% say they handled it about right.

                The Party of Moderation yo.

                I don’t know about you Pinky, but I’m just not seeing a lot of humility in the Republican party anymore. Thoughts and feelings?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                You really have to wonder what their questions were and the timing of this… and those numbers add up to 94%.

                That aside, I think the big question is what happens in a few years after Trump is gone and we’re rational again.

                Do we keep on with the magic thinking and having our own personal “facts”? Do political parties get a way to push back on that? How and should they?

                Like fish in water, we tend to not be aware of just how much magic thinking is around. Everything from “true communism has never been tried” to “the election was stolen” to “god”.Report

  5. CJColucci says:

    As the sports cliche goes, you are what your record says you are.Report

  6. Chip Daniels says:

    From La Times:
    Biden plans early legislation to offer legal status to 11 million immigrants without it

    We are about to get a storm of totally not racist economic anxious Republican wailing, with some flurries of murderous cosplay.Report

  7. Pinky says:

    I haven’t heard about any violence yesterday. The press had been warning about it – “Q” is the 17th letter of the alphabet. This makes me optimistic about Inauguration Day.Report