Is Independence Day just a conservative holiday now?

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

It’s no secret that Americans live in a severely divided nation these days. Left versus right, conservative versus progressive, red versus blue… there’s no end to the division you can point to and both the media and political leaders in Washington do their best to inflame those divisions to gain a political advantage. But now we’ve reached the point in the year where we can all take a deep breath, relax for a moment, and set aside those differences. The 4th of July, America’s Independence Day, is a holiday for everyone, right? We may all have our own vision of where the country should be heading, but it’s still the greatest country in the world and most of us wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, yes? Well… perhaps not so much anymore. In an interesting study from the Washington Times, we learn that the amount of pride Americans take in their country and their place as a citizen isn’t what it used to be. And as you might have guessed already, there’s a growing gap between the left and the right over this question as well. Liberals and progressives just aren’t as proud to be Americans as those on the conservative side of the fence. And the gap is getting larger.

Recent surveys have exposed a rift on patriotic attitudes that academics say could lead to Independence Day becoming a holiday embraced mostly by conservatives.

• A Gallup poll reported Thursday that 58% of Republicans, 34% of independents and 26% of Democrats said they are “extremely proud” to be American. That is down from 87% of Republicans, 65% of independents and 62% of Democrats in the same poll last summer.

• A nationwide survey of 2,000 college students reported Tuesday that 76% of self-identified conservative undergraduates feel “proud to be an American,” while 40% of liberals feel likewise.

Gallup has been tracking this question for a long time and their numbers are particularly jarring. In a single year, the percentage of self-identified Republicans who are “extremely proud to be an American” plummeted from 87% to 58%. And barely a quarter of Democrats (26%) could say the same. Even the Democrats managed to break sixty percent last summer.

For some recent historical perspective, that 26% of Democrats this July is actually higher than the figure reported in the same month in 2018. Back then, just 23% of liberals were “extremely proud to be American.” So it’s clearly been a while since the Democrats had a very good impression of their own country.

History Professor Jonathan Zimmerman, who describes himself as a “card-carrying liberal” (where do they order these cards?), said he is “appalled by the way the left has ceded patriotism to the right.” But how surprised should he really be?

Just a couple of observations on this from the peanut gallery. First of all, there’s obviously been a marked difference between liberals and conservatives for quite a while now when it comes to patriotism and love of country. This gap didn’t just show up when Trump or Biden was elected. But the downward shift on both sides of the divide is noticeable and worrisome. 58% of Republicans being “very proud” to be Americans is indeed quite a bit more than the 26% you see among Democrats. But it’s still vastly lower than the same measurement taken only one year earlier. What changed?

We can’t just write it off to the results of the last few sets of elections. I suppose you can understand how many Democrats might have felt glum when Trump was in office and perhaps that impacted their relative level of pride in their country. But they don’t appear to be much happier now that they’ve taken back the White House.

As to the underlying, fundamental gap between the left and the right, I would suggest that “pride in being an American” is inextricably intertwined with “pride in America” itself. With that in mind, ask yourself which party has become famous in the past several years for wanting to tear down statues of the Founding Fathers and erase their names from schools and historical monuments? Which party is pushing school indoctrination saying that America is more defined by the era of slavery than the freedoms we were granted in this grand experiment in democracy? Which party defines the current state of society in the United States more by oppression than opportunity?

If you can answer those questions, you’ll likely have a good idea as to which party tends to be more proud of the country they live in. And hence, which ones are more proud to be Americans. But no matter which side you would place yourself on, I wish you and your families a joyful Independence Day anyway. Let’s just hope the aliens don’t pick this week to show up in their giant spaceships.

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