Whither Patriotism?

You've probably heard about the new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center. One notable and unfortunate finding: Only 28% of Americans believe this nation "stands above all other countries." That's down ten points from just three years ago, when 38% considered this the greatest country in the world. Even Republicans, usually stalwart defenders of American exceptionalism, are somewhat down on this country.

Perhaps even more troubling is the number 44%. More than four in ten of the folks don't "often feel proud to be American." Who knows, maybe that's even lower after our World Cup loss to Belgium.

Our perspicacious pal Charles Krauthammer places some of the blame on President Obama's early focus on America's ills. Not to be outdone, Republican Kate Obenshain claims, "We have a president who has been insisting that things are our fault." No doubt President Obama has not been America's most enthusiastic cheerleader, but the trend runs far deeper than just one person. The very notion of American exceptionalism is routinely mocked by the eggheads in Harvard Yard and the swells in Hollywood.

For nearly a half-century, America's coastal elites have taken great pains to focus on this nation's shortcomings, of which there are many. These are the same people who create our popular entertainment and dominate our universities. As a result, many of our children grow up steeped in a toxic brew of negativity, ridicule, and downright anti-Americanism. They've learned, courtesy of "intellectuals" like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, that the USA is an imperialistic and racist power.

Of course, anyone reading this already knows the other side of the argument. Is there a legacy of racism in America? Yes, but what other nation has done more to correct that? Which other country has been as welcoming to people from around the world? Have we undertaken ill-advised military adventures? Without doubt, but who else liberated tens of millions from fascism, death camps, and communism? As one general noted, America doesn't demand territory or spoils after a military victory, only enough ground to bury our dead.

So on this July 4th weekend, we might take a moment to contemplate what began 238 years ago. The founding of America ushered in an explosion of freedom, creativity, and inventiveness. Jefferson, Adams, and even wise old Ben Franklin would be totally flummoxed by the America of today, with people talking into strange devices, watching glowing screens, traveling on metal behemoths in the sky. Would these wonders have happened without America? It's possible, but doubtful.

But while the exceptionalism of America is obvious to all but the willfully blind, the downward trend of USA pride may continue for a while. The generation that came of age in the 60s, and its members who mock flag-waving and patriotism, will be dominant for a while. Perhaps a new generation will eventually come along with a more generous assessment of this remarkable nation. Their teachers might counter the negativity of Zinn and Chomsky with some observations from Toqueville and, yes, Krauthammer.

The American Revolution was the spark that ignited an incredible and ongoing experiment. Whatever its flaws, America has been a force for good, a noble country inhabited by mostly noble people. The nay-sayers have some momentum, but the truth about America will win out in the end. Because this is indeed an exceptional country. A country that remains, as Lincoln put it, "the last best hope of earth."

  • scott autry

    The problem is institutional and has been going on for decades.

    You can’t change trends like this without attacking the prejudice against and exclusion of conservatives in Higher Education, Hollywood, and the Media, at minimum.

    Until the staff members of those institutions represent ideological diversity roughly similar to political affiliation within the overall population, The Left will continue to shape/warp minds against us effectively…

  • scott autry

    This is a no-brainer:

    For a few decades, education (all levels), popular culture, and the media have been hammering away about the ills of America and downplaying (even burying) those in other places. Plain and simple.

    That is why you can have city councils or schools banning the display of the flag – because it might “offend” someone.

    Now, a badge of sophistication, intelligence, and education is to put the United States down and raise The Other up.

    To a significant portion of the population, patriotism is synonymous with ignorance and racism.

    Until we hammer away the stranglehold The Left has on Higher Education, Hollywood, and the Media, we can only expect things to get worse…

  • gold7406

    The 60’s radicals became the constituency of this administration. This administration viewed the 60’s radicals as their role models, but learned from them. They became lawyers and learned to “game the system.” They still have a big chip on their shoulder. Just like resentful teenagers rebelling against their parents.
    The country will rebound, renew and refresh and patriotism will again be in vogue, when people finally realize this administration was so wrong about so many things. The millenials will lead the charge. They were the ones that will be most slighted by the administration. They were the one’s that jumped on the bandwagon for hope and change, but instead have been unemployed and shocked by empty promises. They will be the ones that move the country right again.

    • Simon Noel

      To reverse the negativism, the US needs to take a page out of the Saul Alinsky playbook and demonize the last vestiges of 60’s radicals like Bill Ayres and Angela Davis. The media needs to take the lead on this, but it will not come from the main stream media like The NY Times etc. Education that demonizes the scum bags will accelerate the renewal of American exceptionalism!!

  • Brian Fr Langley

    Down yes, but hopefully not out. The spirit of independance that threw off an imperial yoke had consequences far beyond American exceptionalism. For millenia, a small tribal peoples we called the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, morphed into a people who treasured liberty as their highest cause. Like a once planted tree, from the Magna Carta, to the discovery of the America’s, this cause, often watered by bloody conflict, grew slowly and surely. Then to the awe of the nations, a revolution of fire and blood brought forth it’s first dazzling flowers. And when fully fruited, and in the fullness of time, it became the apogee of humanity. My Fathers, myGrandfathers, and my sons, have shared and shed their blood with yours on battlefields beyond count. Such is the toll liberty exacts. From a cousin to the North, on this your celebration of independance. You are a most exceptional people, and I salute you.