Despite prolonged economic troubles, deep political divisions, headaches abroad, and a sense that the country is on the wrong track, the heartening news this summer is that a majority of people say they often feel proud to be an American.
A new Pew Research Center poll divides the public into seven political categories. There are "steadfast conservatives" who embrace social and small-government conservatism. "Business conservatives" who are more pro-Wall Street. "Young outsiders" who distrust both political parties but hold liberal positions on the environment and social issues. The "next generation left" who are mostly liberal but skeptical about government's effectiveness. The "faith and family left" who favor an activist government but are somewhat socially conservative. The "hard-pressed skeptics" who are financially stressed, lean Democratic but distrust government. And finally, the "solid liberals" who take the liberal position on pretty much everything.
Pew asked members of all categories whether they "often feel proud to be American." The conservatives are most proud -- 81 percent of the business conservatives and 72 percent of the steadfast conservatives say they often feel U.S. pride.
There's a drop off after that, but still, majorities of other groups express pride. Fifty-nine percent of the faith and family left say they often feel pride; 56 percent of both the next generation left and young outsiders feel pride; and 51 percent of the hard-pressed skeptics, despite their skepticism, still often feel proud to be Americans.
Only among the solid liberals does the number fall below a majority, with just 40 percent saying they often feel proud. Why do they feel the way they do?
It's not just because they are liberals or Democrats; other groups that clearly lean toward liberal ideas and Democratic candidates express more pride in America. What is different about the ones who take the least pride in the U.S.?
According to Pew, solid liberals make up about 17 percent of registered voters. Most (69 percent) are white. They are "highly educated and affluent," according to the survey. They are the most loyal Democrats of all groups and "unflagging supporters of Barack Obama."
Solid liberals are more urban than other groups, more likely to use public transportation, more likely to recycle. They're the most likely to say they want to live close to museums and theaters, and the least likely to hunt or fish.