Spirit, Pride, and Anxiety
At AEI, Karlyn Bowman and Eleanor O'Neil report
As the United States prepares to celebrate Independence Day, this issue of AEI’s Political Report looks at polls that measure the American spirit: Americans’ pride in their nationality, their feelings and anxieties about their country, and perceptions of political unity and division.
- Americans are proud and optimistic . . . Seventy-five percent say they are extremely or very proud to be an American (Gallup), and only a small number say other countries are better than the United States (Associated Press/NORC). Around 6 in 10 believe that America’s best days are ahead of us (Fox News) and feel mainly hopeful and optimistic when they think about the country’s future (NBC News/Wall Street Journal).
- . . . but dissatisfied and anxious: A majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, the country’s position in the world, and our system of government and how well it works (Gallup). Most believe the American dream is harder to attain today than it was in the past (NBC/WSJ) and think the state of our moral values is getting worse (Gallup). Sixty-five percent describe the mood of the country as “it’s everyone for themselves,” while only 14 percent say “we’re all in it together” (YouGov/Economist). In an open-response question about the most important problem facing the country, dissatisfaction with government ranks highest, with one-quarter of Americans giving that response (Gallup).
- Political division: Eighty-six percent believe the country is more politically divided than in the past, the highest percentage ever to give that response in Pew Research Center’s surveys dating to 2004. Most people don’t think Republicans and Democrats in Congress can come together to solve the country’s problems (YouGov/Economist). However, a majority are optimistic that Americans of different political views can come together and work out their differences (CBS News).