I'm glad you asked, so heres my take on it.
First of all Gruenwald was exploring the abstract concept of 'patriotism' - how there are different types of patriotism, and how being 'patriotic' is not necessarilly an automatically good thing.
In doing this, Gruenwald was not referencing a real life person or persons, real life events, nor was he even really criticising any particular side of the political spectrum.
He used two characters - Rogers and Walker - to represent two different perspectives - two Americas - but he was careful to ensure that they werent portrayed as 'right' and 'wrong', just *different*, and Gruenwald stops short (aside from Reagan as a snake perhaps)of choosing a side himself when he writes the story. He plays it for the most part right down the middle.
Rogers was senior, old fashioned, idealistic and traditional; where as Walker was young, ambitious, realistic, and pragmatic. Despite their differences both were clearly 'good guys'.
The two defeat the true enemy (the Red Skull) by working together - perhaps hinting at what can be achieved if both the left and the right can forget their small differences long enough to concentrate on common goals - and both end the tale as heroes.
Now lets look at Spencers run on the book.
First of all its no secret that this story was influenced by the 2016 Presidential election and its subsequent fallout, so the story is a representation of real events and some of the people who participated in them.
Does Spencer choose a side? Yeah.
- Having a bunch of good 'ol boys beating Mexicans up on the border and yelling about 'the wall' shortly after Trump mentioned his intention to build one (and youre an idiot if you buy spencers assertion that this was a coincidence!).
- Setting up Rick Jones as a clear proxy for Edward Snowden (and conversly setting SHIELD up as 'the man', just trying their hardest to infringe your civil liberties).
- Giving us a clear commentary on BLM and the way our police relate to our communities, but completely ignoring all of the nuances of that debate, instead choosingto give us a 100% white, 100% racist police force, enforcing 100% punitive laws on a 100% black, 100% innocent community.
- Having the people responsible for the Americops be a trio of walking, talking Republican stereotypes - rich, white, Texan, belonging to the traditional Republican pillars of the media, politics, and big business, racist purely for the sake of it, and with no objective bu to stop a black man (Sam Wilson) from holding an influential position in American society.
- Creating characters such as Ariella Connor - a clear parody of Anne Couture, who is so deeply racist that she is repulsed by the mere touch of an immigrant, even when that immigrant is saving her life.
- Steve Rogers #17 may as well have been titled 'Trumps fake news', as the whole thing is a sideswipe at the perceived media manipulation and use of 'alternative facts' by the right. Of course there is no hint of a suggestion that the left have ever done such a thing...
- Then theres Secret Empire itself - a story about an icon who wraps himself in the flag whilst simultaniously burning the constitution, dupes the population into supporting him by playing to their greatest fears and ignorances, creates a threat that didnt actually exist in order to convince them that he is the only one who can protect them from it, and pointing the finger of blame firmly at those who are 'different'.
Captain America fighting fascists isnt new, nor is it a bad thing -its what he's always done - but Spencer doesnt set his sights on fascists. He isnt attacking the 'alt-right', or the 'far right' - he attacks anyone who stands anywhere on the right and conservativism in general, drawing a line in the sand and making it quite apparant that if you stand on the opposite side of it to him then you are part of the problem.
Social media only helps reinforce this, and Spencers online comments closely mirror what he is perceived to be saying in his comic books, and he even announces open season on his own fans readers, routinely dismissing that there is any justifiable reason to have voted for the man who currently sits in the White House.
How many times did someone tell Sam Wilson "Youre not my Captain America"? Notice how the people saying it are always white guys who fit the worst possible stereotypes - from the handlebar moustached redneck with his trucker cap and aviators, to the weasly desk-bound cop?
Youre kidding yourself if you think that isnt a direct criticism from Spencer aimed at ANY person who didnt like Sam as Cap for ANY reason. If you dont like him then you are a racist, because there cant possibly any good reason for not liking Sam Wilson unless youve got a problem with black guys...
Of course if social media existed in 1986, maybe Mark Gruenwald would have showed his hand a bit more too. I'd like to believe that Gru wouldnt, but we'll never know either way, so we have to settle for the fact that whatever his inherent personal politics were, they were no way as obvious in his writing as Spencers are.
Now dont perceive any of this as a defence of, or support for any of the people who found themselves in Spencers sights. I have zero personal respect for the likes of Trump and his cronies, and I am happy to critise them. Theyre not the anti-christ though, theyre not Nazis no matter how much Spencer tries to allude to them being Nazis, theyre not the worst thing to happen to America, and as much as I personally wouldnt have voted for them thats different to saying that there is NO justifiable reason for voting for them.
Its impossible for any writer to completely eliminate bias from their work, but deliberate bias should be avoided. Gruenwald managed in avoiding it. Spencer meanwhile seemingly revelled in embracing it.