Soaring gasoline prices, tumbling stocks, the war, the nukes, the bickering between political parties as trouble looms. It is not the most serene Fourth of July on record, certainly.
Yet, despite collective and persistent anxieties, the nation’s patriotism remains very much intact. Alive and well, in fact.
Americans are the most patriotic people on the planet, according to researchers at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center who quantified and compared the national sense of pride in 34 countries.
The United States is at the head of the list, followed by Venezuela, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, the Philippines and Israel rounding out the top 10.
It was no random gauge of passing sentiment.
Respondents were asked to rate exactly how proud they were of their nation in 10 areas, including politics, history, diversity and culture. The U.S. was ranked highest overall, particularly in pride in democracy, economy, political influence, science and the military.
Other research has plumbed the country’s patriotic souls as well.
Rasmussen Reports found that three-quarters of 1,000 likely voters polled on June 27 said they were proud of U.S. history. There is a partisan divide of note here, though. The survey found that among Republicans, 91 percent were proud of the past. The number was 64 percent among Democrats. About 72 percent of Republicans, compared with 29 percent of Democrats, said the U.S. was “a land of liberty and justice for all.”
Meanwhile, three-quarters overall say American children should be expected to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school each morning. The figure was 89 percent for Republicans and 62 percent for Democrats.
Two-thirds of the respondents agreed that in terms of human rights, the U.S. was a “positive role model for the rest of the world.” With a certain Yankee cheekiness, two-thirds also agreed that “the world would be a better place if more countries were like the United States.”
Patriotism has become a piquant presidential campaign issue in recent weeks as Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain seek to position themselves as the most star-spangled candidate. Mr. McCain has the definitive edge.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey of 906 registered voters released Wednesday found that 90 percent of the respondents said the Arizona Republican was patriotic while a quarter felt that the Illinois Democrat was not patriotic enough.
“It’s likely the issue will not have a significant impact this fall,” said CNN analyst Alexander Mooney.
Americans themselves have strong opinions about what constitutes patriotism.
A USA Today/Gallup Poll released Thursday found that “voting in elections” garnered the most acclaim as a patriotic act, cited as either very or moderately patriotic by 95 percent of the respondents.