America is the best.
That’s been, for many years, the default position of politicians of both parties. No matter what your views were on the issues of the moment, everyone could agree that America was No. 1. Patriotism and pride weren’t partisan.
New polling numbers from Gallup suggest that view is no longer ubiquitous — or even close — among the people they represent.
Just over 4 in 10 Americans (42%) said they were “extremely proud” to be an American, the lowest number to say so since Gallup began asking the question in 2001. The total of people saying they were “extremely” or “very” proud to be an American — 63% — was also the lowest ever measured by Gallup.
The pride numbers have been falling since 2013 — although the drop accelerated considerably following 2016. At that point, more than 8 in 10 people said they were “extremely or “very” proud to be an American, with 52% falling in the “extremely proud” category. Those numbers have plummeted in the four years since.
“The new low comes at a time when the US faces public health and economic crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in police custody,” writes Gallup’s Megan Brenan of the findings, adding: “The poll’s field period encompassed the arrests of the police officers charged in Floyd’s death as well as the nationwide protests that were sparked by the incident and President Donald Trump’s controversial responses to them.”
While Republicans (67%) are still far more likely to say they are “extremely” proud of being an American than Democrats (24%), the numbers among GOPers have dropped considerably in just the last year. In 2019, more than three-quarters (76%) of Republicans said they were “extremely” of their country. (Just 22% of Democrats said the same last year.)
It’s not entirely clear why Republicans feel less pride in America than they did last year, although as Brenan notes, 2020 has been a hell of a year between the coronavirus pandemic closing American society and crippling the economy to protests in the streets following Floyd’s death. Although if the dip among Republicans was due solely to external events, you would expect similar declines among Democrats and independents — and that’s not the case.
The effects of Donald Trump as president could also be playing a role in the declining numbers among Republicans. His handling of the government’s response to the pandemic has been uneven at best, and his calls for the police to “dominate” the streets during protests against police brutality and systemic racism were roundly criticized by even many within his own party.
The idea of an America in decline, or at least one in which fewer people are willing to say they are extremely proud to be a citizen of the United States, suggests that Trump’s promise of an American rebirth if he was elected president isn’t working.
“Sadly, the American dream is dead,” Trump said on the day he announced his presidential campaign in 2015. “But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again.”
With the country in the middle of a sea change in the way we think and talk about race (showing just how far we still have to go), the economy struggling to right itself after the coronavirus shutdown — and the President’s public volatility making things worse at almost every turn — Trump’s presidency has still struggled to make good on his campaign pledges of a renewed and improved America.
While those aren’t likely the only reasons for these drops in pride, it’s hard to imagine that how this President operates domestically and on the world stage doesn’t have some real impact on how Americans see themselves and their country.