Now, in the 238th year of our independence, the pride many Americans have in their country has sunk disturbingly low, along with optimism about the future and the pursuit of happiness.
Today, 49 percent of Americans believe our country’s best years are behind us, compared with 44 percent who say the best years are ahead, according to a Pew poll released the week before Independence Day. Only 28 percent of citizens say America stands above all other countries. Fifty-eight percent say this nation is merely one of the greatest countries in the world. Significantly, among what Pew calls “steadfast conservatives,” 46 percent believe America is the greatest, but only 11 percent of “solid liberals” think so. That helps explain solid liberal Barack Obama’s views.
Trust in the federal government has hit near-record lows, with 75 percent of Pew respondents saying they trust Washington only some of the time, or never, versus 24 percent trusting the government always or most of the time. Probing a little further, the poll found 19 percent of the people are angry about the federal government and nearly two-thirds — 62 percent — are frustrated with Washington. But only 17 percent are content with the government.
How many “often feel proud to be an American?” The poll showed 56 percent said they do, meaning 44 percent do not feel that way. Breaking it down by political persuasions, 72 percent of steadfast conservatives often feel proud to be an American, compared with only 40 percent of solid liberals. Is it any wonder there are such sharp political divisions in our country?
Rounding it out is a Gallup poll released Tuesday showing fewer Americans are satisfied with their freedom to choose what they do with their lives than held true seven years previously. To check the “pursuit of happiness” condition, the polling firm compiled data from 2006-13. The percentage of people saying they were satisfied with their freedom to direct their lives sank from 91 percent in 2006 to 79 percent in 2013 — a drop of 12 points.
It’s no wonder many Americans feel personal freedom is slipping away in view of the over-reaching federal government under Obama — especially the onerous health care law taking away our precious right of individual liberty and freedom of choice. But most of the dissatisfaction and malaise can be remedied by the election of some good leaders in Washington to put us on the right track by next Independence Day.
And I still think America is the greatest country in the world, and, as Lincoln said, “the last, best hope of earth.” Three cheers for the red, white and blue!