Five Facts on how Americans feel about the United States

Five Facts on how Americans feel about the United States

This week, America celebrated its 247th birthday with dazzling fireworks and a mountain of hot dogs. Alongside the festivities, however, this year’s Fourth of July saw a slew of articles highlighting Americans’ declining optimism. A Fox News poll even suggested that a plurality of Americans think the country's best days are behind it. So, is the American Dream still intact or is it fading away?

Here are Five Facts on how Americans feel about the United States.

1. A majority of US adults express pride in being American, although the percentage is approaching historic lows.

Recent Gallup polling shows two-thirds of Americans retain a strong sense of pride in their American citizenship. However, among adults aged 18-34, that figure plummets to a mere 18 percent, revealing a substantial generational gap in American pride. Gallup also highlights that "extreme" pride prevailed among US adults until 2017. Since then, this sentiment has averaged only 42 percent.

2. Only a minority of Americans have faith in many of America’s core democratic institutions.

America, a nation of immigrants from diverse backgrounds, has historically relied on shared faith in our democratic institutions as per the Constitution for national cohesion. However, trust in these foundational institutions is dwindling. A scant quarter of Americans express confidence in either the presidency or the Supreme Court, while faith in Congress languishes at a dismal 8 percent. Even the military, long revered in American society, now holds the confidence of only 60 percent of the population, reflecting a nearly 10 percent drop since 2021 alone.

3. The US Army missed its recruiting quota by 25 percent in FY 2022, and the US Navy is projected to miss this year’s quota by 16 percent.

As public confidence in the military continues to slide, the number of Americans enlisting for service is also falling. Writing for The Ripon Forum, National Defense University Professor David Des Roches underscores some of the problems facing our armed forces. Of note, the military tends to draw recruits from an increasingly small pool of families with a tradition of service, while fewer than a quarter of Americans in the prime age group for recruitment meet the eligibility criteria for service.

4. Two-thirds of the country believe American should play a major or leading role in solving international problems.

As the war in Ukraine rages on and Afghanistan reverts to Taliban rule, skepticism of America's active foreign policy is growing among politicians on both the left and right. However, most Americans continue to believe the country can and should be a force for good internationally. Interestingly, more Americans emphasize the importance of taking a firm stand in defense of Taiwan over maintaining cordial relations with China. At the same time, the percentage of Americans satisfied with the position of the US in the world today has fallen to only 37 percent, down from a high of 71 percent at the turn of the millennium.

5. Seventy-five percent of US residents said they had achieved or are on their way to obtaining the American Dream.

Despite their concerns about the state of our nation's institutions and their lack of enthusiasm for the 2024 presidential election, recent polling from NORC-University of Chicago suggests that the majority of Americans still perceive the country as a beacon of economic opportunity and freedom of choice – the essence of the American Dream. However, the percentage of Americans who believe the American Dream is beyond their grasp has risen by 6% to 24% overall, including nearly a third of all Americans with only a high school diploma.