Since when does the American left believe America is great?
In what was mercifully one of his last major primetime speeches as president, Barack Obama declared to the fawning hordes at the Democratic National Convention that "America is already great."
The "America is great" message echoed First Lady Michelle Obama's Monday night speech, in which she lectured, "Don't let anyone ever tell you that this country isn't great."
In speech after speech, Democratic Party elites breathlessly proclaimed how great America is and how misguided Donald Trump is for painting a "dark" vision of America.
Claiming the "America is great" mantle as a way to differentiate from Donald Trump's "America is in decline" message might have been a shrewd political strategy were it not being promulgated by an invariably non-credible messenger: the American left.
The left has never held the United States and its core institutions in high regard. Just the opposite: the left has consistently promoted a decidedly negative view of America.
This is a movement and a political party that venerates left-wing extremists like Ta-Nehisi Coates, who believes America is inherently and irreversibly racist.
This is a movement and a political party that has wholeheartedly embraced the radical black Lives Matter movement, an explicitly anti-American organization whose leaders never proclaim the virtues of America, but only amplify its alleged sins.
How can a movement that perpetuates the "white privilege" lie claim that America is great? Can a nation where bigotry and discrimination are ubiquitous really be great?
Can a nation where corporations and the "1%" allegedly control our politics and our economy be great?
If we are to believe the things the left has historically said about America and says about America today, it's impossible to see America as a great nation.
When he ran for president in 2008, President Obama infamously sought to fundamentally transform America. Because a country that's already great does not need to be fundamentally transformed, it follows that in 2008, Obama did not think America was great. We know he has never believed that America is exceptional.
As Obama was calling for fundamental transformation, Michelle Obama confessed to being proud of the U.S. for the first time in her adult lifetime because her husband won a few primaries.
Now the Obamas assure us that America is already great and rebuke those who want to upend the status quo. What's changed since 2008? It's true that Obama has in many ways altered our republic's cultural, economic, and political fabric through Obamacare, left-wing Supreme Court appointments, unconstitutional executive orders – the list goes on.
Perhaps Obama believes he has made America great. But even this explanation is belied by his frequently painting an America as a country besieged by unacceptably lax gun laws, trigger-happy racist cops, gender discrimination, a Congress not willing to advance all his policies – again, the list goes on.
Bernie Sanders, the de facto political leader of the far left, is a democratic socialist and a staunch denier of America's greatness who seeks to transform America's political and economic foundations. Did I miss the campaign speeches in which Sanders extolled America's virtues? Was the "America is great" message subliminally hidden in Sanders's sweeping condemnation of American society as being controlled by billionaires (right before he endorsed the billionaire's favorite candidate)?
The left has historically never touted America's greatness, opting instead to present a view of America as a deeply flawed, unjust nation, whose only salvation can come by the grace of an all-powerful Leviathan.
In contrast to the Democrats' sudden and transparently opportunistic embrace of America's greatness, Donald Trump's convention speech, panned by liberals as "dark," actually reflected the current national mood: 70 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, and a majority believes that the established political class and its favored special interests benefit at the expense of ordinary Americans.
In assailing Trump's assessment of the state of the union, the mainstream media pointed to Reagan's "Morning in America" to contrast the Gipper's optimism with Trump's alleged cynicism. What the media conveniently forgets to mention is that Reagan's "Morning in America" was the theme of his 1984 re-election campaign, after four years of the Reagan administration.
When Reagan ran in 1980, it wasn't morning in America; it was national malaise, and Reagan made sure to emphasize how bad things were after four years of Jimmy Carter every chance he got.
And for all the talk about Obama's hope and optimism, the underlying theme of his 2008 campaign was fundamental change. He was calling for change not because he thought things were going swimmingly. Obama's soaring rhetoric and flowery prose may have artfully masked his message that the country was in turmoil in a way that Trump's blunt, artless delivery cannot, but Obama's campaign was grounded in an optimistic future that could be realized only if the nation voted for him, not John McCain.
Obama and the left did not think America was great in 2008. This week's empty rhetoric about America's greatness notwithstanding, they don't think America is great in 2016, either.