Keep cheering the hate leveled at America and we can kiss our democracy goodbye

·5 min read

Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day frontman, has not minced words after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"F--- America, I’m … renouncing my citizenship," Armstrong said at a recent concert in London. "I’m … coming here."

He continued: "There’s just too much … stupid in the world to go back to that miserable …excuse for a country."

Interesting choice of words, and ironic given that most of Europe (including Great Britain) has for years had more restrictive abortion laws than the United States, and many states will continue to allow more abortions than England does. Perhaps Armstrong would be more at home in North Korea or China, two of the few countries that allow abortion on demand throughout pregnancy.

While many celebrities like to spout off about politics, this struck me as particularly concerning because Armstrong is far from alone in his sentiment.

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I’ve seen the “F-word” more than I care to this past week from friends and strangers alike on social media as they reacted to the abortion ruling, and others on guns, school choice and praying football coaches.

Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was adamantly outspoken against the United States during a recent concert in London.
Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was adamantly outspoken against the United States during a recent concert in London.

Some of the outrage is directed at the five conservative justices who decided that abortion is not a constitutional right. But a lot of it is channeled at the country itself.

That’s dangerous.

Democracy at risk

It’s one thing to be disappointed or angry at new laws or court rulings. It’s quite another to feel such hatred for our system of government.

On Monday, we mark America’s 246th birthday. And it should be a day of celebration – not mourning.

No other country has the same level of freedom and liberty that we enjoy in America. And that’s not by accident. Our Founding Fathers, while imperfect, created the framework for our remarkable democracy.

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The words of our founding documents should be revisited frequently. Just think about these lines from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Declaration of Independence sets out the worthy goals the Founders envisioned, and the Constitution provides a framework of how to preserve it.

But what happens when citizens stop loving this country and fighting to preserve what it stands for? There are plenty of troubling signs that this is happening and that our democracy is at risk.

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An NPR/Ipsos poll published in January found that 64% of Americans believe democracy is “in crisis and at risk of failing.” The majority of Republicans polled buy into the “big lie” that voter fraud helped put Joe Biden in the White House.

Another poll highlighted that only 26% of those surveyed think that democracy will be secure for future generations. More than half believed U.S. democracy is “at risk of extinction,” and this feeling was shared equally by Republicans and Democrats.

This made me think of a 2018 interview I heard with Yascha Mounk, an associate professor of international affairs at Johns Hopkins University. Mounk was born in Germany to Polish parents, and he has thought a lot of about the future of democracy around the world, as his family has seen firsthand what life looks like under authoritarian regimes (as a German Jew, he lost ancestors to the Holocaust).

He had recently worked with a friend on the World Values Survey to gauge international opinions on democracy, and what they found was alarming: More than a third of Americans surveyed said they would be fine with a strong ruler who didn’t have to bother with Congress. Even worse, among Americans born after 1980, less than a third considered it essential to live in a democracy.

Hate America? Why defend it?

The reality is that citizens will not defend a government they do not love, and they cannot learn to love it if they don’t know and value what it means.

The ongoing Jan. 6 congressional committee hearings are drawing a lot of attention to the bad actions of former President Donald Trump who perpetrated the lie that he was the rightful winner of the 2020 election. Trump’s most ardent supporters bought into this falsehood and stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Biden from becoming president.

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That can certainly be seen as a threat to democracy.

So can all the outpouring of hatred at our country, which is leading some to violence.

Extremism and bad behavior on the right get frequent attention, but let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen on the left, too. Just look at the recent targetingeven torching – of crisis pregnancy centers, and the very real assassination threat against the life of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

As populism on both sides takes precedence over individual liberty and the foundation of our republic, the future of this “great experiment” doesn’t look bright.

“You can’t love your country only when you win,” Biden said at an event marking the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot.

That’s something all Americans should take to heart.

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fourth of July no time to hate America and put our democracy at risk