A major goal of the left has been to use their dominance in the cultural institutions of education, news, and entertainment to wear away the confidence of the American people in the goodness of America and thereby to weaken resistance to the left’s radical agenda. A new poll by McLaughlin and Associates offers evidence that the distorted view of America coming from those cultural institutions has been surprisingly successful in doing just that.
Conducted in conjunction with United in Purpose, a non-partisan group working to improve public policy by promoting the traditional values of America’s founders, the poll sampled the opinions of 1,000 likely voters on a number of political issues. But it was the attitudes about America that should send a chill down the backs of mainstream Americans.
It was alarming enough that 70.8 percent agreed that “anti-Americanism is on the rise.” The most striking findings occurred, however, when likely voters were asked, “Do you agree or disagree that America is the source of most of the world’s ills: political, economic, and environmental?” Overall, almost half (46 percent) agreed, and only 45.5 percent disagreed.
The barrage of negativity about America coming from our liberal cultural institutions is hitting home.
The view of America as causing most of the world’s problems is a fundamental dogma of the radical left, so we would expect left-leaning voters to agree with that view more than conservative voters, and that expectation was largely borne out. Liberals (63.6 percent) were more likely than conservatives (30.8 percent) to agree with that harsh view of America’s effect on the world.
Of special concern, however, was the trend for younger voters to have a considerably more negative view of America’s effect on the world than did older voters. In the 18-29 age group, 66.4 percent agreed that America was the source of most of the world's ills, with the percentage of agreement dropping dramatically with older age groups. Only 22.1 percent of those over 65 shared that sentiment. Clearly, the closer voters are to an educational system dominated by the left, the more negative their view of America’s effect on the world.
Pride in America as a beacon of liberty, hope, and opportunity has long been a characteristic of mainstream America. And a major source of that pride has been the view of America as a force for good throughout the world, not only through the sacrifice of American blood and treasure in fighting against fascism, communism, and other forms of tyranny, but also through the generosity of the American people in providing aid to other nations stricken by disasters. The nation that inspired the world by landing twelve American men on the moon also benefitted the world through advances in medicine and other technologies. Our free enterprise system has produced a standard of living that is envied by much of the world. People who have suffered under socialist oppression are drawn here not only for that higher standard of living but also for the freedom that makes that standard of living possible.
But the left’s institutions see America only through a negative lens. To the left, America is defined by racial discrimination, poverty in the midst of riches, and a host of other ills. The left ignores the fact that mainstream America long ago adopted Dr. King’s call for people to be judged by their character and not by their skin color, and that it is today’s left that stokes racial division. They ignore the reality of economic upward mobility for millions and the fact that generational poverty in America is largely a result of the left’s social policies that weaken families and promote dependency. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo captured the prevailing negative attitude of the left when he remarked in August, 2018, "We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great."
But belief in the greatness of America does not depend on America being a perfect country. Mainstream Americans have traditionally recognized the fact that our imperfections are shared and often exceeded by other nations, but that our failings are far outweighed by our successes. America is not exceptional on the deficit side of our moral ledger, but on the asset side, in the tremendous good America has offered to our own citizens and to the world. It is that overwhelming balance on the positive side that is ignored and distorted in the leftist propaganda flowing from our cultural institutions.
There was, however, an encouraging sign in the poll results. While 66.3 percent of liberals predictably blamed President Trump and the GOP, more than any other cause, for the rise in anti-Americanism, 61.1 percent of conservatives focused their blame on the cultural institutions of news and entertainment. And 37.1 percent of conservatives blamed the universities.
Conservatives are waking up to the reality that those who shape the culture shape the political future. Winning elections in the short term is critical, of course, but it is in the culture that the battle for our political future will be won or lost. It will take time for conservatives to engage the left in the battle for our cultural institutions, but a good first step is recognizing and confronting the lies that the left has been telling Americans about America.
And the biggest and boldest lie being peddled by the left is that America is the source of most of the world’s ills.
Tim Daughtry is a conservative speaker and co-author of Waking the Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals at Their Own Game. Follow him on Twitter @TCDwriter.