Americans consider individual freedoms, the quality of life, and the opportunity for people to get ahead to be the United States' standout virtues relative to other modern, industrialized nations, with majorities rating the U.S. the best or above average in each area. At the same time, fewer than half of Americans consider the U.S. ahead of most countries when it comes to the nation's economic and healthcare systems, as well as its system of government.
"Individual freedoms" is the clear leader among the six areas measured, with more than three-quarters of Americans rating freedom in the U.S. above par. That includes 32% saying the U.S. is the best among industrialized nations when it comes to individual freedoms -- the highest for any item measured in the Dec. 14-17 USA Today/Gallup survey.
The U.S. is often seen as a model of constitutional republics, incorporating checks and balances designed to prevent any one branch of government from becoming too powerful. Nevertheless, more Americans applaud the individual freedoms on which the system is based than the system of government itself. One reason may be that Gallup conducted the survey at a time when Americans poorly reviewed political leaders in Washington for their performance in talks to reach a federal budget agreement before the Jan. 1 deadline that would trigger automatic "fiscal cliff" budget measures.