If we define patriotism not only as an attachment to country but also as a belief in its greatness, if not superiority – the brand of patriotism expressed by America’s poor is extraordinary. Data analysis from the authoritative General Social Survey (run by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago) shows that over 90% of America’s poorest would rather be citizens of the United States than of any other nation. The figure is higher than that for working-class, middle-class and upper-class Americans. About 80% also believe that America is a “better” country than most other countries.
In parallel, data from the World Values Survey indicate that 100% of Americans who belong to the lowest income group are either “very” or “quite” proud of their country. This isn’t the case for any other major advanced country in the world. These positive feelings are also resilient: they intensified, in fact, during the Great Recession of the late 2000s.
As long as they remain deeply patriotic, America’s poor won’t rise up. Indeed, they’ll continue to fill the ranks of the military, strive and sacrifice to help America assert itself in the world, and even feed into and support the slogans and successes of the country’s political leaders – starting with Donald Trump. So, a pressing question arises: why are America’s poor so patriotic?