The Plague-Ground – Stand Proud. Ok, Sit Proud then.

In America these days, pride doesn’t cometh before the fall. Lack of pride does.

Yesterday, Gallup released a poll that said US National Pride Falls to Record Low.

That headline caught me because I’d always thought Americans are the North Star of patriotism. Their own exceptionalism won’t let them be anything but the proudest citizens on earth.

And I’m not just talking about our gun-toting, race-baiting, COVID-denying friends south of the border. I’m talking about our socialist, white-wine, gender-fluid friends there too.

So is Gallup. In 2001 when the poll first began, 87% of Americans of all stripes felt “very proud” to be American. This year, 63% of them are. In 2001, 55% felt “extremely proud” which fell to 42% this year.

This poll is worth digging into, especially since it was taken after the racial unrest following George Floyd’s death and after Donald Trump’s bloviated response.

While there was no real change in the 24% of Democrats who felt extremely proud to be Americans from last year to this, the Republicans who felt the same way fell by 9 percentage points over last year.

This is the largest decline in 19 years and a signal that reinforces what so many political polls now point to: that even rock-hard Republicans are glancing at the exits. True, rabid pride in your country doesn’t always equate to rabid pride in your leader. But when that leader claims to “Make America Great Again”, this exception could become the rule.

There’s another group who aren’t as proud as they were: women.

In 2016, half of them were extremely proud to be American, but by last year, that had fallen to 43%. This year, it fell by 9% more to 34%, another seismic shift. Meanwhile, men’s pride slipped by just 3% in the last five years.

No surprise, only 36% of non-White Americans felt extremely proud to be Americans last year, and just 24% of them do this year.

What about White pride? Well, for the first time since 2016, it fell below 50% this year. It’s also no surprise that only one in three college graduates feels extremely proud, while 46% of non-college graduates do, which is down from 54% in 2016.

What’s both predictable and disturbing is the ‘off the cliff’ decline in chest-thumping patriotism from Americans age 18 to 29. It was never more than one in three, but this year it’s fallen to one in five.

All this begs the obvious question: what does happen to a nation whose citizens don’t like much being citizens? Or rather, don’t really like being citizens?

A friend answered my question by saying: “They become Canadians.”

No one would call us flaming patriots. But I think millions of us count ourselves lucky as hell that we’re Canadians.

No, I think what happens, especially with a country that devours the addiction of superlatives and so must constantly have more, is that lethargy sets in, a sense of “well, there’s nothing you can do to improve things, really.”

And then?

It would be interesting if Gallup were to start an offshoot of its National Pride Poll. Let’s call it the National Shame Poll.

After all, most other countries feel that about America these days. Or pity or scorn.

And while it’s easy to be glib about America’s decline and fall, the real tragedy is that our view of them is starting to match their own.

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7 replies
  1. Avatar
    Jamie Laidlaw says:

    A watershed, a paradigm shift, time of renewal or collapse. Remarkable for its starkness. No ambiguity as the years go by. I have heard Canadians described as loyal and Americans as patriotic. You will note much of what we enjoy in Ontario was built by loyalists who were not patriots. Our provincial motto is Loyal she began and loyal she remains. While Mackenzie’s patriots were suppressed without much of a battle or bloodshed The Patriotes of Lower Canada were routed and slaughtered. The late great Bruce Hutchison once termed Ontarians as rock-ribbed which does not imply a love of either jingoism or yobism. We like people to enjoy themselves but we do not like them doing damage to others. Witness our anger at our elders’ neglect and abuse in places with the name care in the title. The Americans have a huge problem of racial discrimination but so do we and so do all countries no matter the form of government. I recognize the needs of youth so they do not fall off a cliff but I could never lose sight of our elders as they began to teeter and fall. There is work to do.

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    Jennifer Laity says:

    Ah Bob, a touch of schadenfreude – perhaps more than a touch. I agree with Jamie that we are witnessing, and are partaking in, a global shift with regard to racism, human rights, justice, government and just about every tradition that has informed our traditions. The international protests are not so much about what’s happening in the United States, but rather about recognition of the same biases in other societies and economies. The malaise is global, the resistance and revolution are global. There is indeed work to do and may real leaders emerge to help guide us towards a better world for all.
    Cautiously optimistic in Los Angeles.

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  3. Avatar
    Meg Sintzel says:

    I am reminded of Margaret Atwood who was asked in an interview with a US journalist, “what aare you most proud of”. She paused and responded “i’m Canadian …we don’t do ‘proud of’ we’re all about least embarrassed by”

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