Twitter user @TheSasckMask sent us the following question: “Do you believe that having the America love it or leave it mentality is not only a tribal but also a dangerous mentality?” Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discuss this issue.

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Transcript:

Next question is from Cassidy Brown who asks, “Do you believe that having the America love it or leave it mentality is not only a tribal but also a dangerous mentality?”

I do, and see, here’s my issue with this, “America love it or leave it. If you don’t like America get out.” It’s okay to be unhappy with what your country does. And not even necessarily in a partisan way. I mean you can think that we’re a good country, but we could be better. And that’s what you need to think.

Listen, if you look at any athlete or anybody like that who competes for a living, the second they start saying, “I’m the best. I can’t get any better than I already am,” they’re done. If you think you have reached the pinnacle and that you can’t get any better, you won’t get any better. And that’s the kind of mentality we need to have for the United States. If we sit back and have this tribal like, “We’re the best.” Then you’ll never be the best. If you think that everything is perfect in this country, we’ll never get better.

And it goes more to complacency, I think, than necessarily tribalism. We have so many people in this country, and I’m included in that due to financial reasons, I’ve never left this country. Most people haven’t left this country. But those of us who actually read and study and understand what goes on in other countries, we see that they may not be better than the United States but in some areas they are. We do some things better here in the US. They do some things better over in Europe. They do some things better up in Canada. They do some things better down in Mexico.

Everybody from any country in the world could look at somebody else and say, “I like the way you do this better than the way we do this. We could learn from you. We could take something from you.” Unfortunately, we don’t do that. But when you really get to talking to people who’ve spent a lot of time traveling abroad, they will be the first to tell you that America has a lot of problems that need to be fixed and that can be fixed. But often times they’re not fixed because we do have that mentality of, “Nope. We’re America, the way we’re doing it is better than everybody else.”

I mean look at nuclear weapons for example. It’s okay for us to have hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of them, but somebody else wants to make one and, “Oh my God they’re a threat to humanity. We got to wipe them off the planet. Nobody can have nuclear weapons but us.” No. That is a stupid and dangerous mentality to have. Nobody should have nuclear weapons. But if we’re going to sit here on stockpiles of them, we lose the moral high ground to say that nobody else can have them. I understand the threat of other people having them. I also understand the threat of us having them as we’re the only country in the world, in the history of the world, that’s ever dropped them on civilian populations. Nuclear weapons in the hands of the US could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons in the hands of anybody else. But we don’t seem to notice that because of the tribalism, and it all goes back to that America’s better than everybody else mentality. We’re not.

We have to always believe that we can get better, and that we should get better. Part of that is the conversation going on right now about Medicare for all, debt-free college, legalization of marijuana. Things that other countries have already jumped on and been successful with. Those are foreign models that we want to apply here in the United States because we desperately need it.

America is certainly not the worst in every regard, but we are far from the best in every regard. And if more people understood that and realized that you can love your country and not think that it’s the best in the world because we need to improve, that is actually more patriotic than thinking that everything’s perfect, everything’s fine and nothing should change.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced