The message of this song is that despite the fact Steven Van Zandt (Little Steven) opposes Reagan's Republicans, it does not make him disloyal and he's still a patriot. He recalled to Mojo magazine in 2017:
"It was one of the most difficult songs I've ever written, because I knew my political stuff was gonna be very critical of the American government, and I wanted to make it clear that I was being critical from a patriotic point of view: (I'm) very proud of the ideals that our founding fathers had in mind when I created the country, but the fact is (the US is) still very much a work in progress, and very often goes off the rails. In those instances, it's up to the true patriots to say, Wait a minute, the government isn't always right, we need to be vigilant about keeping our ideals intact. So I knew it was the most important song I was ever gonna write, and I stared at that title for at least a year - I just couldn't work I just couldn't figure out how to make it work, but finally I did
When you're trying to write songs that are very simple, with no poetry or metaphor to hide behind, you have to find a way to do that without being obnoxious or boring or cornball... reggae helped!"