Monday, June 15, 2020

American Pride Falls To Lowest Levels In Gallup Poll History — Is Trump To Blame?

Even among Republican respondents, American pride has never been lower.

If you've ever been to a festival in Wisconsin during the summer, you've probably heard the Lee Greenwood anthem dedicated to American pride called "God Bless the USA."

And if you've heard the song, you probably fit into one of two camps: you either believe it to be the epitome of what it means to be truly American, or you think it's one of the most cringe-worthy songs ever written.

American pride isn't a song, of course, so even those who don't like Greenwood's screed can appreciate this country. But according to a new poll from Gallup, there appears to be a downward trend of people who say they are "proud to be an American," running counter to the lyrics of Greenwood's famous song.

A strong majority of citizens are still "extremely" or "very" proud to be American, with 63 percent in this year's poll saying as much. But a decade ago, that number was much higher — in 2009 it was 82 percent, and in 2013, it was 85 percent who said they had such levels of being proud to be American. 

In fact, that 63 percent figure is the lowest number that Gallup has ever polled since it started asking the question in 2001.

There seems to be a common denominator in this lessening of pride: Donald Trump. In every year that he's been president, American pride has gone down. Here's a look at how things have changed in the past four years: 

Year            U.S. Extremely/very proud

2017                    75%
2018                    72%
2019                    70%
2020                    63%

Some might ascribe this drop to liberals and progressives being "down on Trump." The poll from Gallup didn't look at ideologies, but it did look at party ID — and while Democrats did indeed drop in a substantial way the amount of pride they had after Trump took office, the drops seen over the past year have been bipartisan.

Indeed, looking at just Republican numbers, last year 76 percent said they were "extremely" or "very" proud to be American. This year, only 67 percent of Republicans said as much, a 9-point drop.

The number of Americans saying they're not that proud — or, to use Gallup's language, are "only a little" or "not at all" proud to be American (PDF) — is also on the rise, especially under Trump's leadership. Twenty-one percent said they weren't proud to be from this country in this year's poll, and while that sounds like it's a small number, it's almost double what the rate was in 2019 (when just 12 percent said that).

Double-digit numbers in not being proud to be American are sort of a new thing altogether that started under the era of Trump, per Gallup's data. Indeed, in no year under the Obama presidency did "only a little" and "not at all" proud numbers combine to exceed 6 percent. In 2017, Trump's first year, those combined numbers climbed to 9 percent; in his second year, it was up to 10 percent, and as already mentioned, this year it's already up to 21 percent.

So why are Americans losing their pride? This president doesn't give us much to brag about. Locking kids up in cages and separating them from their parents for several years; blatant racist remarks, toward immigrants as well as toward members of Congress; a blatant abuse of power that led to his impeachment; ignoring warning signs about a pending pandemic; a refusal to recognize racial strife in this country, and the gassing of his own citizens to get a photo op in front of a church.

The short of it is this: when the president of the United States acts likes a dictator from a third-world country, it's going to result in a larger share of the population losing their proudness in being American. When we know we can do better, we tend to be sad about the poor excuse of a commander-in-chief that we do have — and that, in turn, perhaps understandably, results in lower levels of American pride.

Featured image credit: torbakhopper/Flickr; Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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