A Pro-Government Demonstration

This is an interesting thought.

[The 1.8 million admirers who gathered on the Mall to hear President Obama's inaugural address] was probably the largest pro-government demonstration in U.S. history.

A pro-government demonstration. Think about that. Americans turning out to celebrate government as a force for good. I think Michael Kazin is correct when he writes:

That spirit is probably strong enough to withstand the news that some high-placed Obama appointees had failed to pay their taxes -- and may even be bolstered by the president's apology for "screwing up" the process.

[more ...]

Whether Americans will continue to view government in a positive light will depend upon how well the government governs, on the patience of the populace, and on the effectiveness of the Republican opposition. The resurrection of the liberal belief in the efficacy of government is nonetheless encouraging.

Kazin writes about "the revival of Americanism" or patriotism on the left. Kazin argues that liberals have found fresh ways to express their love of country after 40 years of conservative branding that equated disloyalty with opposition to conservative policies. I'm not sure liberal Americanism has been revived -- we've always loved the promise of our nation and its core values of liberty, equality, and fairness -- so much as it has been unleashed. There wasn't much to celebrate while conservatives controlled a government that relentlessly undermined those values.

For that reason, I disagree with Kazin's conclusion that "after decades in denial, progressives have finally realized that they cannot lead America if America does not hold a privileged place in their hearts." There is nothing new about that realization, or about the liberal veneration of American values. It has simply taken some time for those who do not define themselves as liberal or conservative to understand that right wing policies are not the logical product of patriotism and do not advance the public good.

As Kazin notes, normally mellow liberals grew outraged by the worst abuses of the most recent Bush administration and vowed to take their country back. Whether "a liberal movement flourished" seems less clear. Frustration with lousy government flourished as voters came to realize that viewing government as the problem assured that government would be the problem. A government that can't respond effectively to natural disasters, that won't regulate the excesses of the financial industry, that sends soldiers to die on the basis of faulty intelligence, left voters convinced that there had to be a better way. I doubt that most of those voters embraced the L-word. Democrats represented an alternative and the center shifted its voting pattern. Whether it shifted philosophically (or whether it eventually will) remains to be seen.

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    Pro-Government???? (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by lentinel on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 06:52:30 AM EST
    The massive presence at the inauguration of Obama had to do with the inauguration of Obama.

    It is quite a leap to spin this into a pro-government demonstration.

    It had nothing to do with patriotism.

    Patriotism is earned when the country behaves in a manner which encourages love.

    What would help revive patriotism, imo, would be the cessation of military activity that kills children.

    Until then, patriotism is nothing but a flag pin.

    Yeah... (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 07:52:20 AM EST
    I wouldn't call it a pro-government demonstration either...definitely more of a pro-Obama "thank god Bush is gone" party.  

    Being a minority... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Thanin on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 10:39:23 AM EST
    there was a level of patriotism and pro government sentiment with this specific inauguration.  So while I understand what youre saying, theres a level youre not seeing in this.

    Define patriotism. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 07:32:57 AM EST
    If  jingoism and nationalism is defined as patriotism as the conservatives so often do, count me out. Particularly when the conservatives add their authoritarin component.

    To restate Tchris, our core values  of liberty, equality, and fairness as well as the rule of law are worth fighting over and for. And that is the sort of patriotism I can stand up for.  

    Patriotism (none / 0) (#7)
    by lentinel on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 09:19:48 AM EST
    When our government begins to respect "our core values  of liberty, equality, and fairness as well as the rule of law", patriotism will emerge in a natural way.

    We are being asked to die for something that our government is not willing to practice.


    The sentiment is still strong (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by indy in sc on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 08:36:52 AM EST
    in my circle.  So many people I know who were never engaged in politics and current affairs before this election cycle are still very engaged.  They are watching all the press conferences, paying attention to the status of bills in congress, following confirmation hearings, and beginning to really understand the stakes.

    I hope it continues.

    That picture of those million of people made me (none / 0) (#1)
    by suzieg on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 04:32:59 AM EST
    sad and nostalgic for our demonstrations for civil rights and against the Viet Nam war - why are these people not coming out, in those numbers, in demonstrations against the war? Why are they so apathetic? is it because their male loved ones are not about to be drafted? I wonder if the families of those soldiers, who are mostly forgotten and out of the news, felt the same way...

    The people (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by lentinel on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 07:07:14 AM EST
    have been trying to do something within the system for years.

    They elected a democratic congress in 2006 with the mandate of ending the war in Iraq. Pelosi and Reid and the rest ignored us and went along with Bush's surge. Obama sings its' praises.

    Obama began by lighting the fire of people hoping to end the war.
    Once he inherited that mantle, as contrasted with Hillary the Evil One, he ignored the peace movement. He supported Lieberman.

    Now he is President.

    The war goes on.

    A new one is brewing in Afghanistan.

    Both wars are underreported and are not even the subjects of conversation on blogs such as this one.

    The people are not apathetic. They are exhausted. There is nowhere to turn.

    People are desperate. They have lost their homes. They are hungry. There is no immediate relief. For most, there is not even relief in the long term.

    If the government continues on its' path, the people may take to the streets again. Perhaps a brave and honest politician will speak out and encourage action. Civil disobedience may re-emerge.

    It is up to Obama. If he reveals himself to be on our side, civil disobedience can be avoided.

    But it doesn't look good right now.

    "...all experience [has] shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."

    --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence


    This makes me so sad (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by sj on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 10:10:51 AM EST
    The people are not apathetic. They are exhausted. There is nowhere to turn.

    Because it's so true.


    Not just the people here either (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by CST on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 10:21:06 AM EST
    There was a terrible report today about how there were more suicides in January in the military than there were "war casualties".