Cliff’s Take: Celebrating America, Faultlines Notwithstanding

Fundamentally, Americans are proud of who they are, even if their views on the current state and direction of the country are more mutable.

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
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Two days until the 4th of July.  Think of all the festivities ahead this weekend – and all without having to worry about the restrictions of last year.

The Fourth is a time to spend with family and to reflect on where we are as nation. Compared to last summer, the US is in a much better place.  The virus has receded; business is up; and people are out and about.

That said, risks are still out there—the Delta variant being a new one to worry about.

As we reflect on the America of today, let’s not forget about the faultlines running through society. Our own polling shows that while most Americans are proud to be, well, American.  But what version of America will they be celebrating this Fourth, and how do they perceive the current state of the nation? As with so much else, it all comes down to partisanship and identity.

Below I detail the most relevant data points of this week.

  1. Proud America. A majority are proud to be American. But some are prouder than others – Republicans, white Americans, people living in rural and suburban areas, and older generations – the GOP caucus. Makes sense? Pride in America


  2. Hello, stranger. How proud Americans are of the country in the present moment has had its ups and downs over the years. At the same time, many—especially of the Republican variety—no longer feel welcome here in America. Is the latter point just an expression of nostalgia for a time that once was?  Never underestimate such symbolic longing. Sense of alienation


  3. Culture wars. Politics have been fraught here in the US for a while. Political temperatures keep going up. These political cleavages run deep, cutting into the core of who we are as a nation. From a global perspective, we are at the forefront of the “culture wars.”  Look at the data. Culture wars


  4. What divides us. The flavor of those divisions look a little different here in the US. Across a 28-country average, people are most preoccupied by the gap between the rich and the poor. But in America, we stand out for being divided around partisanship, ideology and race. Social tensions


  5. America that was. Let's take a closer look at how Americans feel about America today. Around one in ten feels that America is at its greatest point now, in the present moment. But our nostalgia – and how we perceive reality – is political. Look at the data. These days, Republicans are looking more like a ship without a captain. Again, partisanship defines our politics today. American greatness


Divided as we may be, this weekend, we can all rally around our common love of quintessential Fourth of July activities. Cookouts and fireworks.

As always, be safe, be sane.

For more information, please contact:

Clifford Young
President, U.S.
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2016
[email protected]

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The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs