Thursday, July 4, 2019
The headline read:
IN U.S. RECORD- LOW 47% EXTREMELY PROUD TO BE AMERICANS.
The article (https://news.gallup.com/poll/236420/record-low-extremely-proud-americans.aspx) goes on to report that 72% of Republicans are “extremely” proud to be Americans while on 42% of Independents and 32% of Democrats responded as being “extremely” proud. The article notes that this is biggest gap between Republicans and Democrats since Gallup began the poll back in 2001. Older white males are more likely to be “extremely proud” of America than women, younger folks, people of color and those with higher education. Raise your hand if this surprises you.
The article includes a link to the details of the survey. Being naturally curious and chronically skeptical of the way survey results are often reported, I decided to check it out. As it turns out the question is as follows:
How proud are you to be an American -- extremely proud, very proud, moderately proud, only a little proud, or not at all proud?
Being an Independent count me as one of those NOT responding as being “EXTREMELY” proud of America. I am definitely VERY proud of America. But, I am a realist and America isn’t perfect. If the question were asked, how would you rank America to all other nations on planet earth, I would definitely say WE’RE NUMBER ONE. There is no greater nation and never has been , in my opinion. But ask me the question, the way it is asked, and I’m going to respond VERY vs EXTREMELY most of the time.
25% reported being VERY proud. Combine with the 47% who are EXTREMELY proud and we have 72% of American’s who are at least very or extremely proud of America. That number peaked at 92% in September 2002, one year after 911. The high marks for EXTREME pride were 2002, 2003, 2004 at 69%, 70% and 69%. After No WMDs and Katrina, the number started dropping. The Trump years have been the lowest at 52%, 51% and now 47%. The number of VERY proud Americans (like me) has been pretty steady since 2006 staying in the 24-26% range, with a bump up to 27-28-29% in 2013, 2015, 2016. (No results were shown for 2014 which I find interesting).
When the first survey was taken in Jan 2001 (pre-911 and in the aftermath of hanging chads and all of that), 87% of respondents were Extremely or Very Proud of America. That we are now down to 72% is indeed cause for concern. If the survey results are truly representative of us, then almost 50 Million Americans are no longer proud of their country. (I don’t count “moderately” proud…that’s just lame).
We are at one of those historical tipping points. Whichever way things go in the 2020s, we are likely to remain a very divided nation for decades. Trump may now be the poster boy for a U.S. divided, but he’s not the real issue. We are divided on fundamental issues: abortion, immigration, climate change, energy, international policies, healthcare, education, religion, taxes, race, gender, sexuality, the size and scope of government, drugs, crime and punishment. Not just a little divided, but in many cases uncompromisingly divided. Our system may be one of checks and balances, but it requires people of good will and some degree of shared values in order to function. On July 4, 2019, I regret to report that very little of either are to be found.