One of America’s leading political historians on Friday explained the dark reality revealed by a new poll on plunging patriotism among younger Americans.
“A new poll reveals American patriotism is at an all-time low,” CNN’s Alisyn Camerota reported.
“Only 38% of adults say that they were extremely proud to be American,” co-anchor Victor Blackwell said. That’s the lowest rate ever reported by Gallup, which started asking the question in 2001.”
For analysis, the two interviewed Princeton Prof. Julian Zelizer, the editor of the 2022 book, The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment.
His many books include the 2015 anthology America at the Ballot Box: Elections and Political History and the 2015 book The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society.
“Julian, there is a remarkable age gap here as it relates to people who say they are either extremely or very proud of their country,” Blackwell said. “I don’t know what the distinction is between being extremely proud and very proud, but there is one, apparently. 55 and older, 80% say they’re either extremely or very proud. 35 to 54, 64%, and those 18 to 34, less than half at 48%. I just wonder, is there something nostalgic about patriotism that you would see older generations who would say, ‘Yes, I’m very extremely proud’?”
“Look, there’s some nostalgia for older Americans, but there’s also some reality for young Americans, the people I teach in the classroom,” Zelizer replied.
“You know, these are generations who have lived through gun shootings as a regular thing,” he explained. “They lived through an incredibly polarized and often dysfunctional political system that doesn’t deal with the problems they care about, like climate change. So it’s not surprising when you’re asking them how do they see the country, they’re not overly enthused.”
“They have also lived through a pandemic where our systems failed them, so I understand it’s not simply the nostalgia of older Americans, it’s a realistic look at what’s around them from the younger generations and why we need to do better as a nation to boost how people feel about this democracy,” he said.