An interior dialogue

Is it possible to despise a country's government, and still like its citizens?

Of course. Two examples. I myself grew up in South Africa in the 1980s. I was a voter in the apartheid era, when only white people could vote. The state was despicable, yet I would not want that feeling to spill over to me personally.
Did you vote for them or against them?
Niether. I had a little round badge that read "if voting could change the system it would be illegal". I went on pro-democracy marches and demos, which you could also attribute to an excess of youthful energy and desire to get into trouble.
And the second example?
Americans. There are so many fine USA'ians that I have communicated with via this site, yet I despair of their political process.
You dislike the Bush administration? Well, remember it was a close decision. The next one should be better.
The current administration is the worst of a long series of bad ones. Richard Dawkins recently commented in a UK newspaper words to the effect that if a global multi-billion dollar company had spent a year and millions of dollars on choosing a new CEO, and had finally decided on GWB, it would reflect badly on the whole company. And the fact that GWB won (or close as dammed) the election, means that the process of selecting the opposing candidate, by the time it was down to a two-horse race, was just as bad.

There must be competant leaders somewhere in that country, but the politcal process does not bring them forward. There's a kakistocracy going on here.

Fine words coming from someone who grew up in the Apartheid state.
OK, that state was wrong, was a government of shortsighted, callous petty men, and it was eventually replaced with something not perfect, but a whole lot better. I may not have done as much as I could to bring it down, but I certainly didn't prop it up. What kept it going so long was fear of the unknown. Better the devil you know and all that.
So you dislike the US government entirely, but the people are great?
I think so. But in a real sense the government is the people, the will of the people, or at least what the people deserve. If they don't like it, they should change it. In my opinion, the way in which their politicians are funded by industry is corruption. Institutionalised corruption on massive scale, yet it is invisible. I can't even tell the difference between their two political parties. You might as well call them the "bought" party and the "paid for" party.

Saying that the USA is fine except for its politics and industry is like saying that you like someone except for their personality.

So how do you feel?
I don't know. I really don't know.

Hear the words of wisdom from Oolong:
people are responsible for their government - a responsibility they should not shirk - but not necessarily to blame for them. We know all too well that individual struggles have a way of failing to change anything, and it is only fair to blame individuals as far as they could have done better but didn't...