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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Attitudes on Patriotism and American Exceptionalism

Daniel A. Cox at the Survey Center on American Life:

Despite a lackluster federal response to the COVID-19 outbreak and a violent assault on the US Capitol, Americans remain firm in their belief that American culture and the American way of life are superior to others. More than half (53 percent) of Americans say that the world would be much better off if more countries adopted American values and the American way of life. Approximately four in 10 (42 percent) disagree with this statement.

There is even greater agreement among the public that the US has always been a force for good in the world. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Americans agree, while about one in four (24 percent) reject the idea that the US has been consistently virtuous in its actions abroad.

Fewer Americans believe the US has a special relationship with God. Nearly half (45 percent) the public believe that God has granted the country a special role in human history. Roughly half (49 percent) of Americans disagree.

There are massive generational differences in views about American exceptionalism. Young adults are far more likely to challenge notions that the US serves as a moral beacon. Less than half (46 percent) of young adults (age 18 to 29) believe the world would be better off if more countries adopted American values and lifestyle. In contrast, seven in 10 (70 percent) seniors (age 65 or older) agree with this statement. Young adults are also far less inclined to believe the US continues to be a force for good in the world.

Overall, most Americans feel proud about their national identity. More than six in 10 say they are extremely proud (34 percent) or very proud (28 percent) to be an American. But this sentiment masks considerable cleavages among the public along the lines of race, political affiliation, and generation.

There are sizable generational divisions in feelings of pride about being American. Older Americans express much more pride in their nationality than do younger Americans. In fact, seniors are more than twice as likely to say they are extremely proud to be American than are young adults (55 percent vs. 23 percent).

No religious group expresses greater pride in their national identity than white evangelical Protestants. More than three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants say they are very or extremely proud to be an American; half (50 percent) say they are extremely proud. More than four in 10 white Catholics (46 percent) and white mainline Protestants (43 percent) also report being extremely proud about their national identity. Considerably fewer Hispanic Catholics (29 percent), black Protestants (27 percent), members of non-Christian religious traditions (26 percent), and religiously unaffiliated Americans (20 percent) report they are extremely proud to be American.