Tag: pledge of allegiance
How Much Right-Wing State Government Costs Us -- In Human Life

How Much Right-Wing State Government Costs Us -- In Human Life

Conservatives often argue against proposals for public remedy on grounds of futility. Public remedy will be ineffectual, they say, because the problems it is meant to fix arise from intractable social conditions or human nature. When the new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson recently responded to demands for gun regulation after a mass shooting by saying that “at the end of the day” the true problem is not guns but the “human heart,” he was making the futility argument.

The “futility thesis,” as Albert Hirschman calls it in his classic The Rhetoric of Reaction, has a long history, but it has special relevance to contemporary politics. It played a major role in the neoconservative attack on liberal programs of the 1960s and subsequent rollback of federal regulation and spending. One of Ronald Reagan’s favorite lines, “We had a war on poverty, and poverty won,” perfectly expressed the conservative charge that liberal reform was futile. That view helped persuade Congress under Reagan and his successors not only to cut programs for low-income communities but also to devolve policy to the states through such measures as block grants that let the states decide how money would be spent.

More from Paul Starr

Although we hardly knew it at the time, the United States was conducting a national experiment: What would be the effect on Americans’ well-being if we turned over a wider array of policies to states controlled by political parties with opposed agendas? Three other developments have made state governments more central in policymaking. One is preemption. Since the 1980s, states in Republican hands have increasingly preempted local laws, preventing Democratic-run cities from adopting such policies as tobacco taxes and anti-smoking regulations, paid sick leave, and higher minimum wages.

The other two developments advancing the power of states are the work of the Supreme Court. By striking down the constitutional right to abortion, the Court has given states leeway to adopt diametrically opposed policies on reproductive rights. And by refusing to impose any limits on partisan gerrymandering, the Court has enabled incumbent state parties to expand their legislative majorities and entrench themselves in power.

These shifts have greatly increased both the importance of state-level policy and divergences between red and blue states. For many purposes, it no longer makes sense to think of the United States as one country. Depending on their state of residence, Americans live under drastically different policies concerning public health, taxes, the stinginess or generosity of public benefits, unionization, gun safety, and many other things that affect their well-being, indeed, their survival.

So what have been the results of the national experiment in putting more policymaking in the hands of states? Survival, as registered in mortality rates and life expectancy, is the ultimate measure of well-being, and the data for the United States in recent decades do not tell a happy story. While life expectancy continued rising in all the high-income countries in the late 20th century, the United States began lagging behind its peers. By 2006, it ranked last, and after 2014, life expectancy in this country began falling. The pattern, however, varies considerably across states.

As state-level policy has diverged since the 1970s (and especially since 2000), so have differences in mortality rates and life expectancy among the states. These differences are correlated with a state’s dominant political ideology. Americans’ chances of living longer are better if they live in a blue state and worse if they live in a red state. The differences by state particularly matter for low-income people, who are most likely to suffer the consequences of red states’ higher death rates. To be sure, correlation does not prove causation, and many different factors affect who lives and who dies. But a series of recent studies make a convincing case that the divergence of state-level policymaking on liberal-conservative lines has contributed significantly to the widening gap across states in life expectancy.

In a 2020 paper, a team of researchers led by Jennifer Karas Montez assembled annual data from 1970 through 2014 on both life expectancy and state policies in 18 different policy domains, including health, labor, the environment, and taxation. In previous work, one of the collaborating scholars, Jacob M. Grumbach, had shown that state-level policies over that period had polarized on a liberal-to-conservative spectrum. According to the new Montez study, which controlled for differences in state populations, the polarized shifts in state policy were associated with changes in life expectancy. States that adopted liberal policies were more likely to experience larger gains in life expectancy (and in recent years to avoid an outright decline). Connecticut and Oklahoma were the two states whose policies shifted the most, Connecticut toward the liberal side and Oklahoma toward the conservative side. In 1959, life expectancy in both states was 71.1 years; by 2017, it had increased to 80.7 years in Connecticut but only to 75.8 years in Oklahoma.

Couldn’t the explanation for such changes lie in changes in education, income, and other characteristics of the states? Montez and her co-authors estimated the association of life expectancy with state policy liberalism, net of other factors such as the composition of the state’s population. Taking those factors into account, their model indicated that if all states’ policies were the same as Connecticut’s in 2014, U.S. life expectancy would have been two years longer for women and 1.3 years longer for men—and if all states’ policies were like Oklahoma’s, Americans’ lives would have been shorter.

In a 2021 study, Benjamin K. Couillard and co-authors approached the question a different way, exploring alternative explanations for the increased geographic divergence in life expectancy. Much recent research on individual mortality rates has pointed to the increase in “deaths of despair” (drug overdoses, suicides, and alcohol-related disease), concentrated among Americans without a college degree. Might those deaths and the share of the college-educated population account for the increased divergence across states? The Couillard study found that it accounts for only about one-sixth of the change.

And what about changes in per capita income among the states? Perhaps life expectancy has fallen in states where incomes have fallen, while it has risen in states where incomes have gone up. It turns out, however, that changes in state incomes don’t predict changes in life expectancy. What does have an impact are differences in levels of state income over the preceding three decades. The longevity of a population today reflects the investments in health made in years past. The Couillard study concluded that “the most promising explanation” for rising geographic disparities lies in “efforts by high-income states to adopt specific health-improving policies and behaviors,” efforts which have “reduced mortality in high-income states more rapidly than in low-income states, leading to widening spatial disparities in health.” These efforts, they write, “include anti-smoking policies, expansions of Medicaid, income support, and norms around health behaviors.”

The full impact on life expectancy of a change in policy often takes years to emerge. For example, higher tobacco taxes may reduce smoking and deaths from lung cancer and other diseases, but mortality rates do not immediately register the effect. Similarly, much of the benefit from providing health care to children shows up only in adulthood. Untreated disease in children affects their energy and performance in school, onset of disabilities, adult health, and overall ability to thrive later in life.

In one of the rare studies that tracks long-term effects of policy, Andrew Goodman-Bacon used state-by-state variations in the original introduction of Medicaid coverage for children between 1966 and 1970 to estimate health and economic effects in adulthood. He found that early childhood eligibility for Medicaid reduced death and disability and increased employment up to 50 years later. In fact, it saved the government more than its original cost because the recipients later received less in public benefits and paid more in taxes.

Another recent study also makes a powerful case against the futility thesis. So many Americans already own guns that it may seem that no policy limiting firearms can make any difference. But in a paper published this year analyzing state-level changes in gun regulations and gun mortality from 1991 to 2016, Patrick Sharkey and Megan Kang found “strong, consistent evidence supporting the hypothesis that restrictive state gun policies reduce overall gun deaths,” including both homicides and suicides committed with guns. They used data on nine categories of gun laws to create an index for each state based on the balance between restrictive policies, such as background check requirements, and permissive policies, such as concealed-carry laws. For 2016 alone, they estimated that restrictive policies passed since 1991 averted 4,297 deaths, about 11 percent of the total gun deaths that year.

The shift of policymaking to the states is often justified on grounds of federalism and the belief that decisions should be left to the level of government closest to the people. But if conservatives genuinely believed in that principle, would they be agitating now for a national law to ban abortion? Would they be hoping that the Supreme Court continues to strike down state and local gun restrictions? Would they continue to support decisions by state legislatures to preempt local laws? What unites the right is not a principled belief in federalism or local control but a preference for making decisions at whatever level of government they dominate.

What also unites conservatives is a complete absence of any self-reflection about the impact of their policies on life and death in America. The futility thesis must be a great consolation to those who believe in it because otherwise they would have to confront the toll that their policies have taken. The balance of power in the states has been literally a life-and-death matter. Liberals and progressives should know that the policies they have struggled to enact have not been in vain.

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect,professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history.

Reprinted with permission from The American Prospect.

Retired U.S. Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn

VIDEO: Michael Flynn Forgets How To Say The Pledge Of Allegiance

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's former national security adviser and a supporter who was one of the loudest voices seeking to steal the 2020 election, completely botched the words to the Pledge of Allegiance on Sunday.

Flynn was at a rally for Lin Wood, the Trump-supporting lawyer who filed multiple failed lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 election based on lies of voter fraud. Wood is running to be chair of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Video of Flynn's embarrassing slip-up was posted to Twitter by Ron Filipkowski. Flynn tells the crowd gathered at the rally, "I want you to hear every single word of the Pledge of Allegiance, that is our pledge to each other, that is our pledge to this country. It's a pledge of allegiance to the United States of America."

"I Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America," Flynn starts out. He then skips a section and says, "Individual" — which is not part of the pledge — and awkwardly stops reciting it as the crowd continues.

He doesn't pick up reciting the words again until the end of the pledge, saying "Under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

It's unclear how Flynn — who seconds earlier touted the importance of the pledge — completely forgot the words.

Since leaving the Trump administration and pleading guilty to lying to the FBI as part of the Russia probe, for which Trump eventually pardoned him, Flynn has descended into a dark pit of QAnon conspiracy theories.

In July 2020, he posted a video of himself pledging allegiance to QAnon — the baseless conspiracy theory that claims, among other things, that Trump is some kind of savior who would purge the government of supposed Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

And after Trump lost the election to now-President Joe Biden, Flynn was a loud voice in Trump's ear trying to convince Trump to eschew a peaceful transition of power. In fact, Flynn tried to prod Trump into invoking martial law to stop that peaceful transition from happening.

Flynn also promoted the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6 that helped lead to the violent and deadly insurrection at the Capitol, in which a pro-Trump mob sought to block the certification of Biden's win.

Now, Flynn is backing Wood's bid to run the South Carolina GOP, a critical race as the state is one of the earliest in the presidential nominating contest.

Like Flynn, Wood has spread debunked conspiracy theories about voter fraud in the 2020 election. Also like Flynn, Wood is a QAnon follower.

Now South Carolina Republicans are worried about his bid to try to lead the party, as Wood is under investigation for committing voter fraud, has called for the execution of Mike Pence, and is currently fighting the Georgia state bar because it ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to keep his law license.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Hakeem Jeffries

WATCH Rep. Jeffries’ Scorching Brooklyn Takedown Of Utah GOP Trumpster

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) figuratively set fire to freshman Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT)in a speech that called him out for daring to criticize Democrats for not being patriotic while Owens himself had voted, one day after the January 6 insurrection, to overturn the results of a fair presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

On one of his first days in the chamber, Owens lectured House Democrats on needing to show national unity by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance alongside Republican counterparts. Owens did this even though he himself voted on January 7 to challenge the Electoral College's votes declaring Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 elections, thus attempting to overturn millions of non-white Americans' legal votes and destroy the very notion of Democracy itself.

Owens said, "Tonight [people] will not stand for the flag because they've been taught by their adults not to love our nation. What can we do here as leaders? Guys, let's put aside the partisanship and appreciate the fact we have a body here of every color under the rainbow, every background… I'm gonna follow up with what Congressman Lee [Zeldin] says: 'It's not about words. It is about actions.' Fifteen seconds to show our kids that we are adults, that we can agree to disagree, where we love our country enough to at least stand up and recognize our flag."

In response, Jeffries said, "He sat here lecturing us about patriotism, and I was just going to ask him how he voted after a violent mob attacked the Capitol, to hunt down members of Congress, to hang Mike Pence, to assassinate Nancy Pelosi, to stop us from undertaking our constitutional responsibilities as part of the peaceful transfer of power. More than 100 officers seriously injured: brain injuries, head trauma. Ine officer lost three fingers. Another officer, because of an assault on him, is likely to be blind. Officers Sisnik died, blood was spilled, two other officers are no longer with us.

"And you want to sit here and lecture us about patriotism?!?" Jeffries continued. "When you voted to object to an election that you know Joe Biden won, and perpetrated the big lie. But the notion of you come in here lecturing us on your first day before this committee… it's not about words, it's about actions. You know what? Explain your actions on January 7 when you supported an insurrection."

The Radical Roots of America’s Songs (And Pledge!) Rebuke Trump’s ‘Patriotism’

The Radical Roots of America’s Songs (And Pledge!) Rebuke Trump’s ‘Patriotism’

“We all salute the same great American flag,” President Donald Trump told an enthusiastic crowd at a rally of evangelical Christians and military veterans at the Kennedy Center last Saturday.

Wearing his flag label pin, Trump appeared on stage decorated with a massive American flag. The audience — many of them decked out in red, white, and blue — waved miniature American flags. As he walked off the stage after his 35-minute speech, the First Baptist Dallas Orchestra played “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Before Trump addressed the crowd, a choir performed religious hymns along with America the Beautiful.

In anticipation of July 4, Trump sought to wrap himself in the flag, religion, and the military. To Trump and his followers, these are symbols of patriotism. In Trump’s worldview, that means “America First,” deporting undocumented immigrants, restricting immigration from Muslim countries, and withdrawing from the Paris climate accord and other international agreements.

Last year, at a rally in Tampa during his presidential campaign, as his followers chanted “build that wall,” Trump interrupted his speech and gave a bear hug to an American flag on the stage behind him—apparently as a way to demonstrate his patriotism.

At a speech to the American Legion in Cincinnati last year, Trump said, “We want young Americans to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.” He promised the war veterans that he would work “to strengthen respect for our flag.” He promised that in a Trump administration, “We will be united by our common culture, values and principles, becoming one American nation, one country under one constitution saluting one American flag—and always saluting it—the flag all of you helped to protect and preserve, that flag deserves respect.”

Of course, many Americans believe that Trump has brought shame, not respect, on the American flag. His brand of flag-waving patriotism is rooted in xenophobia and racism. Only some people, Trump believes, deserve to be Americans.

“We want to make sure that anyone who seeks to join our country, shares our values and has the capacity to love our people,” Trump said at the Kennedy Center rally.

What would Trump think about Francis Bellamy, the Christian socialist who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, or Katherine Lee Bates, the poet who penned America the Beautiful and was not only a socialist but also a lesbian?

Trump doesn’t understand that the ways Americans express their patriotism are as diverse as our nation.

To some, patriotism means “my country—right or wrong.” To others, it means loyalty to a set of principles, and thus requires dissent and criticism when those in power violate those standards. One version of patriotism suggests “Love it or leave it.” The other version means “Love it and fix it.”

This is a longstanding debate in American history.

Former President George W. Bush questioned the patriotism of anyone who challenged his war on terrorism. In his 2001 State of the Union address, for example, Bush claimed, “You’re either with us, or with the terrorists.” He introduced the Patriot Act to codify this view, giving the government new powers to suppress dissent. (The anti-war movement countered with bumper stickers illustrated with an American flag that proclaimed “Peace is Patriotic.”)

In contrast, President Barack Obama said: “I have no doubt that, in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.” He observed that, “Loving your country shouldn’t just mean watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. Loving your country must mean accepting your responsibility to do your part to change it. If you do, your life will be richer, our country will be stronger.” He was echoing the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, who declared, in a speech during the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, “the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.”

Progressives understand that people can disagree with their government and still love their country and its ideals. The flag, as a symbol of the nation, is not owned by the administration in power, but by the people. We battle over what it means, but all Americans—across the political spectrum—have an equal right to claim the flag as their own.

Indeed, throughout U.S. history, many American radicals and progressive reformers have proudly asserted their patriotism. To them, America stood for basic democratic values—economic and social equality, mass participation in politics, free speech and civil liberties, elimination of the second-class citizenship of women and racial minorities, a welcome mat for the world’s oppressed people. The reality of corporate power, right-wing xenophobia, and social injustice only fueled progressives’ allegiance to these principles and the struggle to achieve them.

Bellamy, a Baptist minister who lived from 1855 to 1931, wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 to express his outrage at the nation’s widening economic divide. He had been ousted from his Boston church for his sermons depicting Jesus as a socialist, and for his work among the poor in the Boston slums.

It was the Gilded Age, an era marked by major political, economic, and social conflicts. Progressive reformers were outraged by the widening gap between rich and poor, and the behavior of corporate robber barons who were exploiting workers, gouging consumers, and corrupting politics with their money. Workers were organizing unions. Farmers were joining forces in the so-called Populist movement to rein in the power of banks, railroads and utility companies. Reformers fought for child labor laws, against slum housing and in favor of women’s suffrage. Socialists and other leftist radicals were gaining new converts.

In foreign affairs, Americans were battling over the nation’s role in the world. America was beginning to act like an imperial power, justifying its expansion with a combination of white supremacy, manifest destiny and the argument that it was spreading democracy. At the time, nativist groups across the country were pushing for restrictions on immigrants—Catholics, Jews, and Asians—who were cast as polluting Protestant America. In the South, the outcome of the Civil War still inflamed regional passions. Many Southerners, including Civil War veterans, swore allegiance not to the American but to the Confederate flag.

Bellamy, a cousin of Edward Bellamy, author of two bestselling radical books, Looking Backward and Equality, believed that unbridled capitalism, materialism, and individualism betrayed America’s promise. He hoped that the Pledge of Allegiance would promote a different moral vision to counter the rampant greed he argued was undermining the nation.

When composing the pledge, Bellamy had initially intended to use the phrase “liberty, fraternity, and equality,” but concluded that the radical rhetoric of the French Revolution wouldn’t sit well with many Americans. So he coined the phrase, “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” as a means to express his more egalitarian vision of America, and a secular patriotism aimed at helping unite a divided nation.

Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance for Youth’s Companion, a magazine for young people published in Boston with a circulation of about 500,000. A few years earlier, the magazine had sponsored a largely successful campaign to sell American flags to public schools. In 1891, the magazine hired Bellamy to organize a public relations campaign to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America by promoting use of the flag in public schools.

Bellamy gained the support of the National Education Association, along with President Benjamin Harrison and Congress, for a national ritual observance in the schools, and he wrote the Pledge of Allegiance as part of the program’s flag salute ceremony.

Bellamy thought such an event would be a powerful expression on behalf of free public education. Moreover, he wanted all the schoolchildren of America to recite the pledge at the same moment. He hoped the pledge would promote a moral vision to counter the individualism embodied in capitalism and expressed in the climate of the Gilded Age.

In 1923, over the objections of the aging Bellamy, the National Flag Conference, led by the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the opening, “I pledge allegiance to my flag,” to “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” Ostensibly, it was revised to make sure that immigrant children — who might have thought that “my flag” referred to their native countries — knew that they were pledging allegiance to the American flag.

In 1954, at the height of the Cold War, when many political leaders believed that the nation was threatened by godless communism—the Knights of Columbus led a successful campaign to lobby Congress to add the words “under God.”

A year after Bellamy composed the Pledge, the same social conditions and political sympathies inspired Bates to write the poem America the Beautiful, which was later set to music written by Samuel Ward, the organist at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey.

Like Bellamy, Bates was a Christian socialist. She belonged to progressive reform circles in the Boston area, was concerned about labor rights, urban slums, and women’s suffrage, and was an ardent foe of American imperialism. A professor of English at Wellesley College, Bates was also a lesbian who lived with and was devoted to her Wellesley colleague Katharine Coman, an economics professor.

Most Americans are unaware that much of our patriotic culture—including many of the leading symbols and songs—was created by people with decidedly progressive sympathies.

Consider the lines inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Emma Lazarus was a poet of considerable reputation in her day, who was a strong supporter of Henry George and his “socialistic” single-tax program, and a friend of William Morris, a leading British socialist. Her welcome to the “wretched refuse” of the earth, written in 1883, was an effort to project an inclusive and egalitarian definition of the American Dream – a view clearly at odds with Trump’s narrow understanding of American history and values.

In the Depression years and during World War II, the fusion of populist, egalitarian and anti-racist values with patriotic expression reached full flower.

Langston Hughes’ poem, Let America Be America Again, written in 1936, contrasted the nation’s promise with its mistreatment of his fellow African-Americans, the poor, Native Americans, workers, farmers and immigrants:

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath

But opportunity is real, and life is free

Equality is in the air we breathe.

In 1939, composer Earl Robinson teamed with lyricist John La Touche to write Ballad for Americans, which was performed on the CBS radio network by Paul Robeson, accompanied by chorus and orchestra. This 11-minute cantata provided a musical review of American history, depicted as a struggle between the “nobody who’s everybody” and an elite that fails to understand the real, democratic essence of America.

Robeson, at the time one of the best-known performers on the world stage, became, through this work, a voice of America. Broadcasts and recordings of Ballad for Americans (by Bing Crosby as well as Robeson) were immensely popular. In the summer of 1940, it was performed at the national conventions of both the Republican and Communist parties. The work soon became a staple in school choral performances, but it was literally ripped out of many public school songbooks after Robinson and Robeson were identified with the radical left and blacklisted during the McCarthy period. Since then, however, Ballad for Americans has been periodically revived, notably during the bicentennial celebration in 1976, when a number of pop and country singers performed it in concerts and on TV.

Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and A Lincoln Portrait, both written in 1942, are now patriotic musical standards, regularly performed at major civic events. Few Americans know that Copland was a member of a radical composers’ group.

Many Americans consider Woody Guthrie’s song This Land Is Your Land, penned in 1940, to be our unofficial national anthem. Guthrie, a radical, was inspired to write the song as an answer to Irving Berlin’s popular God Bless America, which he thought failed to recognize that it was the “people” to whom America belonged.

The words to This Land Is Your Land reflect Guthrie’s belief that patriotism and support for the underdog were interconnected. In this song, Guthrie celebrated America’s natural beauty and bounty, but criticized the country for its failure to share its riches. This is reflected in the song’s last and least-known verse, which Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen included when they performed the song in January 2009 at a pre-inaugural concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial, with President-elect Obama in the audience:

One bright sunny morning;

In the shadow of the steeple;

By the relief office;

I saw my people.

As they stood hungry;

I stood there wondering;

If this land was made for you and me.

During the 1960s, American progressives continued to seek ways to fuse their love of country with their opposition to the government’s policies. The March on Washington in 1963 gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. famously quoted the words to My Country ‘Tis of Thee, repeating the phrase “Let freedom ring” 11 times.

Phil Ochs, then part of a new generation of politically conscious singer-songwriters who emerged during the 1960s, wrote an anthem in the Guthrie vein, The Power and the Glory, that coupled love of country with a strong plea for justice and equality. The words to the chorus echo the sentiments of the anti-Vietnam War movement:

Here is a land full of power and glory;

Beauty that words cannot recall;

Oh her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom;

Her glory shall rest on us all.

One of its stanzas updated Guthrie’s combination of outrage and patriotism:

Yet she’s only as rich as the poorest of her poor;

Only as free as the padlocked prison door;

Only as strong as our love for this land;

Only as tall as we stand.

This song later became part of the repertoire of the U.S. Army band.

And in 1968, in a famous anti-war speech, Norman Thomas, the aging leader of the Socialist Party, proclaimed, “I come to cleanse the American flag, not burn it.”

In recent decades, Bruce Springsteen has most closely followed in the Guthrie tradition. From Born in the USA, to his songs about Tom Joad (the militant protagonist in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath), to his anthem about the 9/11 tragedy (Empty Sky), to his album Wrecking Ball (including its opening song, We Take Care of Our Own), Springsteen has championed the downtrodden while challenging America to live up to its ideals.

Steve Van Zandt is best known as the guitarist with Springsteen’s E Street Band and for his role as Silvio Dante, Tony Soprano’s sidekick on the TV show, The Sopranos. But his most enduring legacy should be his love song about America, I Am a Patriot, including these lyrics:

 I am a patriot, and I love my country;

Because my country is all I know.

Wanna be with my family;

People who understand me;

I got no place else to go.

And I ain’t no communist,

And I ain’t no socialist,

And I ain’t no capitalist,

And I ain’t no imperialist,

And I ain’t no Democrat,

Sure ain’t no Republican either,

I only know one party,

And that is freedom.

Since the American Revolution, each generation of progressives has expressed an American patriotism rooted in democratic values that challenged jingoism and “my country—right or wrong” thinking. They rejected blind nationalism, militaristic drum beating, and sheep-like conformism.

Throughout the United States’ history, they have viewed their movements—abolition of slavery, farmers’ populism, women’s suffrage, workers’ rights, civil rights, environmentalism, gay rights, and others—as profoundly patriotic. They believed that America’s core claims—fairness, equality, freedom, justice—were their own.

America now confronts a new version of the Gilded Age, brought upon by Wall Street greed and corporate malfeasance. The gap between rich and poor is still widening. Although the economy has improved in recent years, Americans are feeling more economically insecure than at any time since the Depression. They are upset by the unbridled selfishness and political influence-peddling demonstrated by banks, oil companies, drug companies, insurance companies, and other large corporations. They are angry at the growing power of American-based global firms who show no loyalty to their country, outsource jobs to low-wage countries, avoid paying taxes, and pollute the environment.

With Trump in the White House, we are, once again, battling over immigration and who belongs in America. With Trump’s approval, right-wing groups and talk-show pundits, calling themselves patriots, have unleashed a new wave of hate and bigotry.

Trump claims he wants to “make America great again” and “bring jobs home.” But those sentiments conflict with Trump’s own business practices. The entire Donald J. Trump Collection of clothing—including men’s dress shirts, suits, ties and accessories—was made in factories overseas, mostly in China, Bangladesh, and Central America, to take advantage of cheap labor.

Trump follows in the tradition of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, America’s largest corporation, who promoted the motto “Buy American.” But today the retail giant, now owned by his heirs, imports most of its merchandise from Asia, much of it made under inhumane sweatshop conditions

Trump’s nativism, xenophobia, racism, selfishness, materialism, and faux patriotism would have appalled Francis Bellamy. Trump may want to require American schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but his vision of America is a far cry from Bellamy’s.

Over the past few years, efforts like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Dreamers immigrant-rights movement, the battles against the Keystone pipeline and for marriage equality, and the Fight for $15 (minimum wage) campaign have generated a new wave of activism, but nothing has inspired more protest than Trump’s election in November.

This movement, which embodies the Pledge of Allegiance’s idea of “liberty and justice for all,” reflects America’s tradition of progressive patriotism. It recognizes that conservatives don’t have a monopoly on Old Glory.

Happy July Fourth.

Peter Dreier teaches politics at Occidental College. His latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame(Nation Books). Dick Flacks, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, is the host of a weekly radio show, Culture of Protest, which streams at 6 pm (PT) at www.kcsb.org. His memoir, Making History/Making Blintzes (coauthored with Miriam Flacks) will be published next year by Rutgers University Press.

IMAGE: Donald Trump hugs an American flag as he takes the stage for a campaign town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire. REUTERS/Brian Snyder