Over the 22 years I lived in America, I have seen a drastic change in the attitude towards the stars and stripes. What was perceived by many as the American flag is now viewed as the Federal flag, evoking distinctly mixed feeling.
The old Gadsden flag is currently re-gaining favor, mainly because it is perceived as the flag of the people instead of the flag of the government. Most people have as little liking for their state governments as for the feds, but the local rulers are perceived as more controllable in the long run.
While I view the United States as the best country in the world in total, we are now quite inferior to many others in personal freedoms, tax laws and other aspects. I wouldn’t trade better gun laws of the US for better drug laws of Belgium, but I admit that they are better off in that respect. Likewise, even in Germany (with its reputation for gruffness), customs and airport staff were significantly less rude than INS and TSA. In many ways, life in America is better than it has ever been. In others, it’s starting to resemble the USSR. That development is almost entirely based on the federal impositions on the population. It’s easy to flee New Jersey for Pennsylvania, it’s a bit harder to get away from the national jurisdiction. IRS, for example, tries to pursue even the people who aren’t Americans anymore.
Until about 2001, I would invite friends from Russia and Europe to visit because I wanted to share my wonderful new homeland. Now I invite them with advance apologies for the indignities they are likely to endure en route from the US government agents. Hopefully, we will all be able to be proud of America again someday soon.