You can love something even as you try to change it. You cannot, however, love something that you are trying to change into its opposite. The same applies to the question of whether President Obama genuinely loves America.
Patriotism is a rational attitude toward one’s country—when it deserves to be loved. But to someone living in a nation with a long heritage of authoritarian rule, the proper attitude toward his country is hatred—a hatred of being enslaved, a hatred of being prevented from living his life and achieving his goals. If he tries to change the nature of his country by fighting for freedom, he is being motivated by a love for that which his country is not. He has evaluated it as something bad and he wants to transform it into something good.
According to the code of altruism, however, this evaluation holds true for America.
Altruism demands self-sacrifice. It demands that you surrender your money, your values, your rights for the sake of others. It declares that you have a moral duty to subordinate your interests to the needs of others, and that the state must enforce that duty by taking from the “haves” and giving to the “have-nots.” It demands that the individual be sacrificed to the collective.
And since it does not stand for collectivism, America—according to this philosophy—is an object of opprobrium. After all, the rest of the industrialized world has nationalized health care, yet we still have a private, selfish system. We have severe inequality in incomes—we have an economy that is not fully regulated—we permit greedy corporations to “underpay” their workers—we allow the rich to keep too much of their money—we have an inadequate welfare state—we fail to provide free college education, free child care, free birth control. There is too much self-interest in pursuit of private profit, and not enough self-sacrifice in pursuit of the “public interest.” Under the altruist-collectivist ethics, America should not be loved; it should, instead, be reshaped into something very different.
America was founded on the idea of individual rights—the idea that you have a right to your life, your liberty and the pursuit of your happiness. It was the first nation in history to be established on the principle of freedom, the freedom to live for your own sake without coercion by the state. This principle is what distinguished this country from others. It is what defined American exceptionalism. It is what made America a magnet that drew immigrants, from all over the world, who wanted to live in the land of opportunity—the opportunity to make what they could of their lives by their own efforts, not the opportunity to have the state provide for their needs.
This is what America was and, in its core spirit, still is—and it is what the collectivists seek to quash. “You didn’t build that,” President Obama says scornfully. This country, he believes, must forsake its foundation of independence and its heritage of individual liberty. Consequently, he embraces a foreign policy under which the citizen is ordered to sacrifice for an international collective, and a domestic policy under which the citizen is ordered to sacrifice for a national collective. He embraces an ethics incompatible with that of a free society.
President Obama may declare that he loves America—but it is an America that, by having abandoned its original principles, has been transformed into its antithesis.♦♦