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Why national pride is evaporating in America


The poll result was one of the more stunning you’ll see: Just 39 percent of Americans are extremely proud of their country, according to a recent Gallup poll. For context, the same poll taken in 2011 had that number at 69 percent.

So how exactly did so many of us become so pessimistic? Is the United States really so different today than it was 11 years ago? What has changed?

For starters, when kids are being taught in schools and the culture that America is an inherently racist country, that message is going to stick with some, unfortunately. 

Many have also lost trust in our institutions. Americans of all political stripes are increasingly distrustful of government, for example. Pew Research found that just two in 10 Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always,” down from 77 percent during the Kennedy administration.

Regarding trust in other institutions, the divide falls more along party lines. Just 13 percent of Democrats trust the Supreme Court, per Gallup, while 39 percent of Republicans say they trust the high court.

How about the media? Things are bleak on that front as well, except in reverse: Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they have “a lot” or “some” trust in national news organizations, according to Pew. Ask a GOP voter the same question, and the trust number is 43 points lower. Simple theory here: Conservatives believe the news is biased against them, while Democratic voter beliefs align with many outlets. The one-sided coverage of the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade is a prime example of that. 

On the question “Are you proud of the country?” the results even begin to fall according to party. Democrats top the list on this question, albeit with just 46 percent of those surveyed expressing patriotism. The number falls to only 36 percent when Republicans are asked the same question, followed by independents, who sit at just 29 percent. 

The answers here may point directly at who is occupying the Oval Office. As you may have heard, President Biden is polling lower than any first-term president going back to Harry Truman. A Harvard University-Harris poll finds that just 29 percent of the country wants Biden to seek a second term. 

“Only 30 percent of Democrats would even vote for him in a presidential primary,” noted former Clinton pollster Mark Penn, who conducted the survey. 

So perhaps so few Americans are proud of their country not because their historical conception of America has changed but because of the current state of affairs, involving deepening political divides, sky-high inflation, rampant crime and other ills.

There isn’t much optimism in the country right now, with an eye-popping 85 percent of voters saying in a recent survey that things are going in the wrong direction. 

Independence Day is nearly upon us. Hot dogs and baseball and fireworks will make it a festive day for many. 

But for many, the cost of filling up a gas tank or buying food for a barbecue will be significantly higher this time around. The evening news will feature stories that will continue to sow outrage and division.

Americans are known for their optimism, but things feel different lately, and for good reason. America has come back from these conditions before, and will do so again. The question is: Will trust in our leaders and institutions come with it? That remains to be seen. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.



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