First, we gave a credit to earned income. … Wasn’t that the American thing to do? Secondly, we decreased the tax rates on small corporations. Wasn’t that the American thing to do? And third, we increased the taxes paid by individuals in the higher brackets. … Wasn’t that the American thing to do? Fourth, we increased still further, more steeply, the taxes paid by individuals in the highest bracket. … Wasn’t that the American thing to do?
Martin Luther King made it a part of his standard rhetoric to praise America:
My beloved nation … can well lead the way in a revolution of values. . . . The day has passed for superficial patriotism. I criticize America because I love her. I want her to stand as a moral example to the world.
By contrast the liberal news sites I follow run stories every year arguing that American independence was a bad idea because it did not immediately end slavery, and they have been full this weekend of riffs on Frederick Douglass' "What is the Fourth of July to the Slave?"
I do understand why liberals do this, but as King and FDR showed it is perfectly possible to agitate for rejecting the way America has been without trashing the idea of the nation.
To me, anti-American rhetoric is a perfectly example of why the left in America never really wins: because they would rather be on the moral high ground than win elections. Republicans understand this; remember Steve Bannon saying, "If Democrats talk race, and Republicans talk nationalism, Republicans win."
If you want, like Bernie Sander et al., to make the US more like the Nordic countries, then you might consider the rhetoric they used to advance their own Democratic Socialism. It was all about the nation; the Swedes who introduced socialism to Sweden called their program Folkhemmet, the People's Home, and said that for all Swedes to take care of each other like a big family was the most Swedish possible thing.
If liberals really wanted to run up big electoral majorities, they would use patriotism as FDR and JFK did, arguing that police brutality and inequality are un-American, and calling on the spirit of the Declaration to advance freedom and equality. So long as they would rather be moral hipsters loudly taking the side of the oppressed, they will not get what they claim to want.
People are tribal; the sense of belonging to a group is as fundamental to our make-up as anything else. People hate to be told that groups they identify with are bad. Telling Americans that the United States is a bad thing is a flat-out losing proposition. It doesn't matter how strongly you believe this to be true; in a democracy, you have to get the votes before you can do anything else, and insulting people is a bad way to get votes.
Don't rail against the world; change it.