The Independence Day weekend is typically a time when we rally around the flag and celebrate the birth of the nation. However, a new poll suggests a continued decline in American pride. The Gallup Poll found “Pride in the U.S. has hit its lowest point since Gallup’s first measurement in 2001.”
Seventy percent of American adults still say they are proud of their country, but less than half (45 percent) say they are “extremely proud.” That’s the second year in a row that figure is below 50 percent.
Patriotism peaked for two years after 9/11, but then began to wane during President George W. Bush’s second term in 2005. And now the extreme political polarization and the election of Donald Trump have brought the numbers down even more.
The biggest decline is among Democrats. Just 22 percent say they are extremely proud of America, the lowest in the 19 years of measurement. The significant drop in Democratic patriotism corresponds with the 2016 election, according to Gallup.
Meanwhile, “For their part, most Republicans have remained extremely proud of their country,” Gallup found, “and the latest 76 percent reading is just ten points below the high recorded in 2003.” Republican pride in the country remained high even during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House.
Gallup went deeper to try to determine the sources of Americans’ pride. The pollsters asked individuals their views on eight aspects of government and society—scientific achievements, the military, culture and the arts, economic achievements, sports achievements, ethnic and religious diversity, the health and welfare system and our political system.
What they found was a majority of Americans take great pride in most of the country’s achievements with scientific advances and the military at the top of the list. Three-quarters take pride in our economic and sporting achievements, our diversity and our culture.
But it’s the final two categories are the greatest sources of discontent. Only 37 percent say the American health and welfare system make them proud. Only one in three Americans say they are proud of our political system.
Think about that for a moment: Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed by Gallup say the country’s political system does not make them proud. I suspect that’s rooted in a general dissatisfaction with politics and politicians more than it is a discontent with democracy.
Concludes Gallup, “Record-low American patriotism is the latest casualty of the sharply polarized political climate in the U.S. today.” That’s sad, but not all that surprising.
Politics dominates the news. The amount of coverage all-things-political receives is disproportional to everything else that is going on. As the poll shows, most Americans have a pretty high opinion of many other aspects of American culture and achievement.
One way to truly enjoy this holiday weekend would be to put politics on the back burner and consider the many other aspects of American life that bring us pride and joy.