Two new surveys show conservatives and liberals significantly divided over what it means to be a patriot.
"We are now dealing with a nation that is fractured when it comes to patriotism," said Anne Sorock of the Ear To the Ground Listening Project, which labeled the surveys "A Tale of Two Patriotisms."
Heading up the polling was George Barna of the American Culture & Faith Institute.
"There are significant differences across the country regarding beliefs pertaining to America, pertaining to patriotism, even about citizenship," he said.
For instance, when asked if an accurate description of patriotism is believing America comes first always, Sorock said, "82% of conservatives think that was accurate and 47% of liberals."
Those surveyed were asked if it would be accurate to describe them as proud to be an American.
"65% of conservatives said that's a completely accurate description of them, and 37% of liberals said that was completely accurate, that they feel proud to be an American," Sorock explained.
Which is Patriotic: Fox News or CNN, Hobby Lobby or Starbucks?
And the two sides certainly disagreed on which organizations are "very patriotic." 57% of conservatives said the National Rifle Association is, only 24% of liberals. 39% of conservatives labelled Fox News "very patriotic," only 19% of liberals did. Contrast that with who judged CNN "very patriotic:" 27% of liberals, just 12% of conservatives.
Tim Daughtry is a psychologist studying the moral underpinnings of political ideology.
"The polarization goes down even to how we see various private businesses that are not inherently political. Conservatives tend to see Hobby Lobby as more patriotic than liberals. And liberals tend to see Starbucks as more patriotic than conservatives do," he noted.
"So even something like shopping or having a cup of coffee these days have some political overtones," Daughtry said.
59% of all those surveyed describe themselves as "extremely" or "very" patriotic. But conservatives are far more likely to perceive a drop in patriotism (62%) than are liberals (36%).
Liberals Twice as Likely to Label Themselves 'Culture Warriors'
Conservatives tend to believe they are losing or might be losing the so-called "culture war." Sorock suggested that could be because they're much less likely to get out and fight that war.
"We see that 22% of liberals feel that they themselves are culture warriors," she explained. "Only 10% of conservatives feel that way."
Daughtry hinted liberals' dedication to winning that culture war over the long haul could have something to do with their success.
"Conservatives have concentrated on winning the next election whereas I think people on the Left have concentrated on winning the next generation," he said.
Barna and Daughtry both suggested this culture war hinges on worldview.
"We are a nation now with divergent worldviews. Worldview is critically important because it's the lens through which we see and respond to the world. In a study we did earlier in the year, we saw that only 10% of Americans possess a biblical worldview," Barna said, adding it was much higher in previous centuries. "And so you see people moving away from biblical truths, from traditional American values."
One Worldview Reveres The Constitution, Another Finds It 'Old-Fashioned, Out of Date'
"I think the country was founded on a Judeo-Christian foundation, whether explicitly religious or not. Its assumptions have to do with human nature: that human nature is somewhat fallen; that human nature can't be trusted with excessive power," Daughtry added.
"That's the worldview that underlies the traditional interpretation of the Constitution. That's why we have separation of powers, limited government powers. Because of the view that human nature by definition, if given too much power, will abuse power and harm innocent people, and that they will in some way infringe on our God-given rights," he continued.
Daughtry sees the danger in what's rising up.
"We've seen a competing worldview coming from the progressives and cultural Marxists, particularly since the 1960s, that sees human nature in a very different light. They see human nature as progressing towards some higher state of the so-called utopia. They see history as marching towards something," he explained. "And out of that view, they see historically the Constitution, the traditional interpretation of limited powers, as old-fashioned and out-of-date."
That viewpoint could be seen in these two new surveys. They showed liberals valuing far less than conservatives traditional symbols of patriotism:
- 20 points less likely to consider American citizenship very meaningful
- 27 points less likely to value the right to bear arms.
As for attaching meaning to:
- The American flag, 30 points less
- The Pledge of Allegiance, 33 points lower
- The national anthem, 36 points lower
- The Bible, 38 points lower.
Could Leaders Actually Unite The United States of America?
Both conservatives and liberals in these polls believe leaders could lessen the divides fracturing America, but are doubtful they will.
"People were concerned that the leaders of America don't seem very concerned about uniting Americans, even around a common theme of what it means to be American or to be a patriot," Barna said.
"To me, it says that if we're really going to be the UNITED States of America, at some point leaders have to point to and rally us around shared values. That's what vision really is. It's a shared value, shared understanding of what the future can and should be and how we're going to get there," he said.
"And even in this survey, we were finding that people were saying that they're not convinced that our most visible leaders are doing much to help us rally around some kind of a shared vision," Barna continued
The surveys were conducted in October and November of this year and each polled 1,000 adults. The research can be viewed at https://www.eartotheground.us/a-tale-of-two-patriotisms