“It’s easy to call these kids ‘snowflakes,’ but where do you suppose they came from?
“We are the clouds from which the snowflakes fell.”Mike Rowe
Over the span of two months at the end of 2022, the Morning Consult polling organization asked a statistical sample of Americans a simple question — Are you proud to be an American? The results fix our position as a society, as a culture and as a nation.
Only slightly more than half of respondents (52%, +/-2%) said yes. As if that’s not disturbing enough, take a look at how it breaks down by generation:
- Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) — 73%
- Generation X (born 1965-1979) — 54%
- Millennials (1980-1994) — 36%
- Generation Z (1995-2012) — 16%
Kids these days, huh?
Not so fast, ‘Boomer.
Questioning and rebellion are to be expected from youth, but that doesn’t quite explain what we see in this poll. While it might not surprise me to learn that the youngest generation harbors somewhat less American pride than their elders (like me), the gulf here is truly stunning — 78% less patriotic? Seriously?
I don’t doubt that the poll accurately reflects today’s America. We can wring our hands about it, but the truth is that we — ‘Boomers and Gen Xers — are responsible for the demise of patriotism. As parents, as grandparents and as Americans, we’ve failed.
Ronald Reagan warned us. Here’s what he said 34 years ago last week, in his farewell address:
“…One of the things I’m proudest of in the past 8 years [is] the resurgence of national pride that I called ‘the new patriotism.’ This national feeling is good, but it won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.
“An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.
“But now, we’re about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.”
He was right. Either we didn’t listen or we were too lazy to do what needed to be done.
And here we are.
I know for a fact that some of you did your damnedest to impart to your kids and grandkids “an unambivalent appreciation of America.” Deb and I sure did. The fruits may not bear ’til years later, but we did our part.
We’re also the ones who know what needs to be done now. We realize that restoring unapologetic Americanism to an entire culture, all at once, is an impossible lift, so we set about the task of rebuilding America from the ground up — one child at a time, one family at a time, one business at a time, one community at a time.
It’s the only way. And it starts when we take full responsibility for the damage we’ve allowed to happen.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.