- - Thursday, July 2, 2020

We celebrate Independence Day in America this week. Despite our imperfect history, the United States is an exceptional country that still attracts masses from around the world because of the freedom and opportunities available to our citizens.

The chaos and destruction across the country seen over the past month have left many people wondering if the majority of us — particularly younger citizens — are proud to be Americans. A recent poll of high school and college-age students, however, gives us hope for the future — particularly among those who have yet to finish 12th grade.

The survey was commissioned by Young America’s Foundation and conducted by Echelon Insights. They polled 800 current high school students and 800 current college students from the general population between June 21 and 26, 2020. The results may surprise you.

When asked about their view of the United States of America, 88% of the high school students and 69% of the college students said they were very or somewhat favorable to the U.S.A. Additionally, 91% of high school students and 73% of college students were very or somewhat favorable to the American flag.

When asked about phrases that describe the United States, 66% of high school students and 47% of college students said: “a country that is exceptional and unique,” while 67% and 48% respectively said, “a country that values liberty.”

The numbers dropped for the following descriptions: “a country that offers opportunity for all who work for it” received 63% support from high school students and 45% from college students. “A country that is a good example for other countries” received 55% and 37% respectively. And for the phrases, “a country that values justice” and “a country that values equality,” high school students listed support at 56% and 52% while college students were at 37% and 34%.

Interestingly, 85% of the high school students and 74% of the college students believed in the following statement: “If I work hard, I will have the opportunity to succeed in life.” Whether they call it or not, our young people still believe in the American Dream

Students were also asked if they were glad to live in the United States of America. Of those in high school, 85% said they strongly or somewhat agreed, while 73% of the college-age respondents said the same thing. When asked about the statement, “Lots of people from around the world would love the opportunity to move to the United States of America,” 88% of high school students and 77% of college students strongly or somewhat agreed.

The students’ top reasons why people would want to come to our country? Good job opportunities, our freedoms, and constitutional rights, and the ability to strive for “the American dream.” Not exactly what we see in the news or on social media these days.

Those conducting the poll asked students if they were comfortable or not standing for the national anthems at a sporting event or saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of an event or meeting. Of the high school students, 75% and 70% respectively said they were comfortable, while 50% and 46% of the college students said the same thing.

When asked about the statement “while America may not be perfect, it is a work in progress that is always improving itself,” 81% of the high school students strongly or somewhat agreed with 66% of the college students agreeing with them. On the statement, “Americans should be proud of their country,” 79% of high school students strongly or somewhat agreed, while the percentage for college students was 60.

Finally, students were asked, “Do you think that Americans should celebrate Independence Day (July 4th)?” Of those in high school, 87% said yes. Of those in college, 74% said yes.

Our young people, particularly those in high school, are more patriotic than the media and social media makes them out to be these days. The good news is that the fundamentals are there as young people understand the concept of the American Dream. They believe that working hard can lead to success and they believe the United States offers opportunities for those who work hard.

At the same time, the survey reveals the influence of students by left-wing professors and activists on college campuses. Unfortunately, many incoming freshmen are overwhelmed with negative views about America once they arrive for classes.

An objective view of U.S. and world history, along with basic economics, will affirm the strengths of our country and reveal the ongoing fight to provide liberty and prosperity for all. From ev’ry mountainside, let freedom ring!

These are the founding principles we celebrate. Happy Independence Day!

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at swalker@washingtontimes.com or follow him @ScottWalker.

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