May 19, 2017

Are you blaming America when you criticize American politicians?

Can you love your country yet dislike politicians and your government? Retweet

By Perry Willis

We did a review of U.S. military history prior to Veterans Day (2016). We’re upgrading those articles to run prior to Memorial Day. Let’s begin by addressing the most common criticism we received last year…

“Why do you blame America for everything?”

It’s simple. I never blamed America for anything; I blamed American politicians. Can you see the difference? Some people can’t. They unconsciously assume that…

  • The “government” is the same thing as the country
  • Politicians are the same thing as the government
  • Criticizing politicians is the same thing as criticizing the country
  • And criticizing the country is like blaming each American (including the reader, who then gets offended)

These are likely unconscious reactions. So let’s do some conscious thinking about them, starting with this question…

Do countries cease to exist when governments fall?

  • Did Germany vanish when the Nazi government fell?
  • Did Russia cease to exist when it was no longer a part of the Soviet Union?

Of course not! That’s because governments and countries are different things. And the same is true for the politicians who control governments. Thus… 

  • It’s possible to love your country while disliking both your government and the politicians who rule it
  • I’m criticizing neither your home nor you personally if I say that U.S. politicians did something bad

Capisce?

Now, let’s carry the point a bit further. I don’t like politicians as a class of people. Some are okay, but most are not. Nearly all of them…

  • Assume they’re qualified to make large choices for vast numbers of people.
  • Feel justified in imposing their preferences through threats of violence — “Do what I and my fellow politicians say, or we will punish you. Continue to resist us and our agents will kill you.”

And what is true of U.S. politicians is true of politicians everywhere in the world!

But when it comes to reviewing military history, do we really need another article telling us how bad Hitler and Tojo were? I think not. What we really need is more honesty about our own government’s military history. We have a greater chance to control that, and more responsibility to do so. Plus…

There’s one more crucial reason to focus on what U.S. politicians do. Many writers have observed that…

When the U.S. catches a cold, the rest of the world catches the flu.

All U.S. actions are magnified because of our size, wealth, and power. Good U.S. actions have more impact, but so do U.S. mistakes. And, as Shakespeare observed, the good that we do is often buried with our bones, while the bad lives on. Such has been the case with U.S. military history. We’ll begin to review that record starting tomorrow.

Perry Willis
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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