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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Partisanship and Patriotism

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Americans like to feel patriotic. Four in ten in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll say they are “very patriotic.” Three in four are at least “somewhat” patriotic. But what does being “patriotic” mean?
First of all, it makes a difference if you are a Republican. Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats or independents to call themselves very patriotic, and the gap is widening. Just under a third of Democrats and independents say they are “not very” or “not at all” patriotic.

Americans are nearly as likely as they were five years ago to call themselves patriotic. The number saying they are not very or not at all patriotic has risen only a bit since then.


But what does patriotism mean? There are many Americans who agree that one can criticize the government, and even disobey laws one disagrees with or think are immoral. But in nearly all cases, Democrats are more willing than Republicans to allow these actions.
 There is only one thing on the list that more Republicans believe one can do and still be considered patriotic: criticize former Democratic President Barack Obama. Both Democrats and Republicans think criticism of President Obama is acceptable for patriots, but the GOP percentage saying this has increased nine points in the last year. Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats believe a person can criticize Donald Trump and still be patriotic, too, and those partisan percentages haven’t changed much in the last year. 
But if that criticism of American leaders is made outside the US, partisans disagree. A majority of Democrats say you can be patriotic if you criticize US leaders to foreigners, a majority of Republicans’ disagree.