Russ White MUG

Happy birthday, America. I hope this next year is your best one yet.

While I feel the past three years have been the worst for this country in my lifetime, I, along with a majority of Americans, continue to be proud of this country and the ideals and values it’s always claimed and striven to adhere to.

Gallup has been polling “pride” in America since the turn of the 21st century. Right now, “pride in America” is at its lowest point since these polls began. That said, 70 percent of Americans still claim to be proud of our country, although the number drops to 47 percent if the adjective extremely is added to the question.

The poll measures pride in eight categories. In six of these — Scientific Achievement (91 percent), U.S. Military (89 percent), American Culture/Arts (85 percent), Economy (75 percent), Sports Achievements (73 percent), and Diversity in Race, Ethnic Background, and Religion (72 percent) — strong majorities are still proud of the good ol’ USA. Not so much for our Health/Welfare System (37 percent) or our American Political System (32 percent).

Forty-seven percent is not only the lowest number ever found in the poll, it is the first time the number has ever dipped below the 50-percent mark. When the poll was initiated, it found 55 percent of Americans were “extremely proud” of our country. That number rose as high as 70 percent in the immediate post 9/11 years, but fell back to 61 percent as G.W. Bush began his second term and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan took their toll.

It held steady in the high 50s from 2005 through 2014, and began to drop as the 2016 election campaign got under way, falling each successive year until we find ourselves where we are today.

Needless to say, the numbers are reflected in the partisan divide that exists in this country.

Republicans have remained obliviously constant in their “extreme pride,” moving from 71 percent in 2013 to 74 percent today. To me, that shows a pride based more on identity than in factual reality, on nationalism as opposed to patriotism. A “my country, right or wrong” mentality.

Democrats and Independents, on the other hand, have shown a marked decline in extreme pride over the same period. Independents have fallen from 50 percent in 2013 to 42 percent today, and Democrats from 56 percent to 32 percent.

There is no demographic group not showing a decline. This does not bode well for Republicans in 2020.

— White, a retired fire services chief in South Florida, lives in Orange City. Send email to info@beacononlinenews.com.