I have been called “anti- American” before, but I have never taken offense at that statement. Many of my friends are liberal and support my ideology, but some friends don’t understand the views I take. As a political science major and as someone who hopes to serve in a political office in the future, my beliefs about the government are very strong and important to me unlike many Americans who ingrained with a certain Americanism which forces them to believe certain concepts are right and cannot be questioned. I believe in a regulated market system. I do not fear socialism. And I do not support the actions that Israel has taken. All of these views do not make me unpatriotic. I believe maintaining a critical view of the government is as patriotic as unconditionally supporting every decision this country makes.
One of my friends is half Jewish, and although she doesn’t go to synagogue or observe Jewish holidays as many in the Jewish community do, she was extremely insulted when I said I was anti- Israel. I don’t really like to use the word “anti,” because I believe it is an amazing place, but I believe Israel has helped cause many of the problems and American hatred within the Middle East. I do not believe that America should support a government which unfairly treats the Palestinians and runs free throughout a region that is under so much scrutiny. My friend wouldn’t talk to me for a few days because of this statement, even though I described why I believe this. Although my friend and I are over the situation now, it was an unnecessary argument in the first place. Many politicians avoid the topic of Israel because they know that many things it does are wrong, but they don’t want to offend the Jewish voters who wont see it as patriotic or right but as anti-semitic towards the Jewish community in Israel. Differences of opinion on this issue shouldn’t be taken as offensive or discriminatory, but simply as different views on an extremely complicated issue.
Many other issues are also off limits to many people such as social democracy. People view socialism as an anti-American and wrong, which stems from the Cold War. People still get scared when socialism is mentioned in modern day America, when socialism is embraced in certain situations. In the current presidential campaign, John McCain has begun to portray Barack Obama as a socialist, because he desires certain forms of social democracy. I believe in universal health care, an issue which many people desire, but politicians do not want to be labeled as socialists if they advocate for it. Socialism was used as a fear tactic in tough times and people relate socialism to governments like the former Soviet Union and China. What many Americans don’t understand about social democracy is that many things have already been socialized and most people do not complain about them. Some off the top of my head are police and fire services, post offices, and public transportation. All of these are socialized programs which are funded by the government. I believe that socialism can be embraced without fear or loss of freedom. I believe health care is as important, if not more, than all of these on the list. I am nervous for the day when one of my family members goes to the hospital for a necessary surgery and gets denied because their health insurance won’t cover it. Every day people in America get denied health care even though they have health insurance. I believe there shouldn’t be health insurance, there should just be health care.
Questioning the government isn’t treason or being anti-American, it’s what is necessary in the complicated world everyone lives in today. I maintain a critical view of the government not because I dislike my government, but because I want what is best for the people around me. Although disagreements can occur in differences of opinion, I am just as American as someone who supports Israel and fears social democracy, because we both have the best for America in mind, but believe in different ways of achieving it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.