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'Hellscape Dystopia': Just 42% of Young Adults Are 'Proud' to Be American, Poll Shows

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The majority of younger Americans are not proud of their country, according to a recent survey, and it should not be surprising given events of recent years and what they have been taught.

A poll conducted by the Democratic firm Blueprint among 18- to 30-year-old registered voters found just 42 percent agreed with the statement, “I am proud to be an American.”

Further just 33 percent assented to the assertion, “America is a force for good in the world.”

And that’s not all the bad news.

When presented with the statement, “It’s accurate to describe America as a ‘hellscape,’ ‘dystopia,’ or ‘dying empire,'” 50 percent of respondents agreed — either strongly or somewhat.

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Only 17 percent disagreed.

The survey was conducted online with 943 registered voters from April 27-29. The margin of error is +/- 5.8 percent.

The findings are consistent with a Gallup poll conducted last summer, which found that just 18 percent of 18-34 year olds said they are “extremely proud” to be Americans.

Axios reported concerning Gallup’s poll, “American patriotism has faced a steep decline among young adults over the last decade, and now sits at a record low.”

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Overall, 39 percent of Americans said they are extremely proud of their country, which is a tick above the record low of 38 percent in 2022.

Gallup has asked the question every year since 2001.

As one might expect, patriotism was at its highest among the general population in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, with 70 percent Americans saying they were extremely proud of their country in 2003; and among 18-29 year olds, the number was 60 percent that year.

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For the population overall, it hovered between 50 to 60 percent throughout the latter 2000s until 2017, before dropping to 47 percent in 2018.

So part of the reason younger Americans are not extremely proud of their country is that Americans of all ages are not.

Nevertheless, the latest survey shows the disparity in view based on age. Fifty percent of those 55 and older are extremely proud of America versus 40 percent for those 35-54 and 18 percent among younger adults.

The Gallup poll was conducted from June 1-22, 2023, by telephone with 1,013 adults living in all 50 U.S. states. The margin of error was +/- 4 percent.

COVID and Political Turmoil 

So why the disparity between younger and older Americans? A partial reason may be the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blueprint discovered in its survey that the pandemic profoundly influenced younger Americans’ view of their country. One can imagine how the lockdowns, the conflicting policy decisions, and the medical mandates shaped their feelings about government.

And they certainly have less life experience to weigh their view of the United States against, like no memory of the Ronald Reagan years of the 1980s and no or perhaps limited recollections of the post-9/11 patriotism.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said that the pandemic changed the U.S. for the worse.

Gallup found in 2019, prior to the pandemic, that 24 percent of 18 to 29 year olds were extremely proud of their country, so somewhat better than 2023.

By way of further comparison, in 2017 during then-President Donald Trump’s first year in office, the number was 43 percent, up from the 34 percent in 2016, when Barack Obama was president. But by 2018, the figure has fallen back down to 33 percent and 26 percent by 2020 during the pandemic.

The political turmoil taking place in the country over the last several years may be partially to blame, beginning with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump and his 2016 campaign.

That was followed by the Democratically-controlled House impeachment of Trump in the fall of 2019. Then came the “summer of love” Black Lives Matter and antifa riots of the summer of 2020.

Next was the highly controversial 2020 elections during which many election procedures in key swing states were unilaterally changed by Democratic officials, sparking anger among Trump supporters and the Capitol protest of Jan. 6, 2021.

Under President Joe Biden we had the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, inflation peaking at a 40-year high, an unprecedented border crisis and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Younger Americans, from both sides of the political spectrum, can find many reasons in all of that not to be proud of their country.

Education 

But it’s not just the events of recent years. The younger generation’s view of America has certainly been shaped by what they’ve learned in their K-12 public schools and then at the college level.

One of the main narratives promoted in curriculums like the 1619 Project and university diversity, equity, inclusion programs is that the United States was and is a racist nation.

Prominent Democrats, like Barack Obama and Biden push this viewpoint, too.

Days after taking office in January 2021, Biden issued an executive order aimed a combating the alleged “systemic racism that has plagued our nation for far, far too long.”

In April 2021, the president claimed that the death of George Floyd while in police custody in 2020 “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism … that is a stain our nation’s soul.”

The United States is actually the opposite of systemically racist, guaranteeing under its Constitution and legislation — like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — that all races are treated equally under the law. There are both criminal and civil liabilities when this does not happen.

While the left likes to focus on the injustices blacks and other minorities have experienced in American history, there is a flip side of the coin that they never seem to address.

The U.S. fought a Civil War to end slavery. And before that the abolition movement took hold first in America. So after millennia of human history allowing and even promoting slavery, Americans stood up and said, “This is wrong.”

During the founding era and in its immediate aftermath all the U.S. states north of the Mason-Dixon line by 1804 had voted to end slavery, that’s long before Great Britain did in 1833.

The Continental Congress also passed the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, which established the laws governing the territorial land encompassing the future states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, including prohibiting the introduction of slavery in the territory.

Further, the Constitution specifically authorized the federal government to ban the importation of slaves starting in 1808 (approximately 20 years from the date the document was ratified).

Congress passed the legislation in 1807, so it could take effect on Jan. 1, 1808, and President Thomas Jefferson signed the bill into law.

Most younger Americans are probably not aware of this history because it doesn’t fit the leftist narrative about America.

A 2023 study found that conservative faculty members are outliers on college campuses, making up just 26 percent. And one can imagine in the humanities courses that percentage is probably less.

That was my experience when taking courses at a popular state school in the early 1990s.

Part of the coursework included an undergraduate post Civil War American history class. I was shocked, even then, how negative it was about the country.

It was mainly a study in how blacks, women, Native Americans, the working class, etc., had all been done wrong. But, thank God, according to the teaching, for the Progressive Era in the early 1900s, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

Again, there is a flip-side to most all of it. American women were among the first to be given the right to vote in the world. The Supreme Court did rule against segregated schools in Brown v. Board of Education.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, with a greater percentage of Republican support than Democratic.

Would millions of people from all over the world immigrate to America each year if they thought it was racist?

Love of Country Must be Re-institutionalized

Ronald Reagan famously observed in his inaugural address after being sworn in as California’s governor in 1967, “Freedom is a fragile thing, and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction.”

Then in his farewell address as president in 1989, he said one of the things he was proudest of was the new sense of patriotism that had arisen during his time in office.

But, he warned, “This national feeling is good, but it won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.”

“An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?” Reagan continued.

He noted that older generations had been taught what it means to be an American, in their homes, at schools, and in popular culture.

“And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions,” Reagan said.

“But now, we’re about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children,” he noted.

“Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile.”

All Americans should know about proud moments in American history including what the Pilgrims did and why they came to America and what U.S. troops did during D-Day in World War II.

Reagan’s warning was prescient. We’re now seeing the results of it today in the younger generation’s lack of pride in the country, because it was not re-institutionalized.

The good news is, just as Reagan was able to lead the charge to bring back patriotism in the 1980s, it is possible to do so again today.

If it is taught and leaders arise who truly believe in the greatness of America (like Trump), the nation’s status as the land of the free and the home of the brave can be restored.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Birthplace
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated dean's list from West Point
Education
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith




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