Love of country must not depend on partisan politics.
As always on July 4, I’ve been thinking a lot about how truly lucky I am to have been born in the greatest country on Earth. I have a deep and abiding love for this place and cannot imagine it any other way. I have great admiration for and interest in other countries – I do write about foreign policy and European history, after all – but nothing compares to America in my heart. Patriotism matters to me and always will. But this seems not to be the case among a growing proportion of our citizenry.
Increasing partisan rancor over the past 15 years has made basic love of country a tricky thing, on both sides of the political divide. Since 2013, polling on patriotism has shown a consistently downward trajectory, with the percentage of respondents saying that they are “extremely” or “very” proud of being American decreasing by 20 points over the decade. The meager 38% of people expressing extreme pride is the lowest in Gallup’s polling history by four points. The partisan split on patriotic feeling – polling shows that Republicans are, on average, prouder of being American than are Democrats – remains, but both sets of voters have seen their patriotism decline markedly. (Similar trends have held true for independents.) These shifts in patriotic feeling tend to correlate with the party in power in Washington. Democrats saw their extreme pride rise under Obama to a peak of 56% in 2013, hit rock bottom under Trump at 22% in 2019, and increase mildly to 26% under Biden in 2022. Over the same period, Republican extreme pride stood at 78% in 2009 to start Obama’s term, dropped to a low of 68% at the end of his stint in office, shot up to 76% in 2019 under Trump, and totally collapsed under Biden to a trough of 58% in 2022. Note the vast differences in similar years, especially 2019 and 2022.
Why this stunning general decline in patriotism? It varies by partisan affiliation, but events and ideology have both played important roles.
The idea of a ‘national divorce’ – a parting of ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states into separate national agglomerations – has been floating around the conservative ecosystem recently, especially on the fringes of the too-online far-right. This idea has bubbled up several times over the past decades on both sides of the aisle – usually when a preferred presidential candidate loses an election. From the 2004 election spawning ‘Jesusland’ versus ‘United States of Canada’ maps, to the radical right-wingers pushing secession after the re-election of Barack Obama in 2012, to the talk of ‘Calexit’ just days after the shock 2016 victory of Donald Trump, secession memes have been rife in 21st century American politics.
A brief polemic against the most monarchical, overblown, tedious piece of political entertainment in the American system.
Tonight is President Biden’s second State of the Union address (his first address to a joint session of Congress in 2021 was technically not a SotU because he had just been inaugurated). Most likely it will be far too long, constantly interrupted by Stalin-esque continued applause, and full of total nonsense. Biden will call out people in the audience that are brought in specifically for the purpose of being used as political pawns, he will make promises that everyone will forget about 5 minutes later, and he will occasionally go off-script to make him feel down-to-earth. The speech will be phony, the reception will be obsequious, and the TV coverage will be wall-to-wall.
How do I know this? Because every State of the Union address is exactly the same song-and-dance. Can you tell that I don’t like this “tradition”?
Progressive historians have been trying to rewrite American history for decades now, from Howard Zinn to the 1619 Project. The newest addition to this effort is Myth America, a compilation of historical essays purporting to debunk the myths of American history as understood by conservatives. Instead, they merely promulgate a whole host of progressive myths to replace them. In this episode of the Rational Policy podcast, we delve into Myth America chapter-by-chapter, breaking down the failures, falsehoods, and fabrications which fill its pages. If you enjoy a thorough historical argument, listen in!
The New Right is looking a hell of a lot like the Old Left – in the worst possible ways.
If you’ve been paying attention to politics over the past decade, you will have observed that there has been a major political realignment taking place over that span. From the Romney-Obama election in 2012, to the 2016 and 2020 presidential contests, to the 2022 midterms, we have seen a sea change in the dynamics of parties and the coalitions they cobble together in search of electoral victory. The most seismic shifts – and the biggest debate as to what they mean – have occurred within the Republican party and the right side of the political spectrum more broadly. In the years since one Donald J. Trump made his way down a gaudy escalator in Manhattan to declare his candidacy for president, the right has been roiled by arguments as to whom they should appeal and what policies they should therefore adopt. The populist surge that was unleashed by the 2016 election has made the contest over ideas and voters into a referendum on conservatism per se and what that term even means.
Since the 2020 election ended in failure for Trump and many of his acolytes – but without a resounding Democratic victory – the debate has only intensified. The 2022 midterm elections, from primary season through Election Day, were largely decided on this point alone, despite strong headwinds against the Democrats in power. Before the election was decided on November 8, the apocalyptic rhetoric began to heat up on the right; now it is at a fever pitch. These factors have combined over the past two years of Joe Biden’s presidency to create a Frankenstein’s monster that is oddly obsessed with, yet envious of, socialism and communism.