A recent Gallup poll, timed for the Fourth of July, found that while most Americans (85%) are “proud to be an American,” most (71%) also believe that our Founding Fathers would be “disappointed” in the America of today.
The numbers highlight the difference between our regard for our Constitution and for the people who make America great, on the one hand, and our collective distrust of government overreach on the other. The daily news is a patchwork story of America’s great people -- and I’ll share one touching example in a moment -- as well as our very real political troubles.
It’s important to realize that we owe our great national pride -- our patriotism -- to freedom itself.
Because we are Americans, we are free to disagree (and we do) about many things, including the role of government and key moral issues like abortion and homosexuality. More importantly, we are free to engage in public debate, to associate politically in order to turn our beliefs into policy, and to be secure in our inalienable rights. When government tramples those rights (for example, by IRS intimidation of conservative groups or HHS disregard for the conscience rights of religious people), it’s up to patriotic Americans to push back and defend our Constitution.
Perhaps not surprisingly, conservatives, who are more likely to value our Constitutional framework and the principles of limited government, are significantly more likely than liberals to express pride in our country -- a 13-point gap. Patriotism is also slightly higher in the South and the Midwest than on either coast, which reflects the general political alignment of those regions. At the same time, just 15% of conservatives (versus 41% of liberals) believe the Founders -- who built this country on the principle of limited government -- would be pleased with our country’s direction. According to Gallup, “Americans…cite dissatisfaction with government as the third most important problem facing the country today,” after the economy and unemployment.
These are trying times for our country. But it’s the right time for each one of us to be -- or become -- great Americans!