Happy July 4: New Penn State study finds U.S. divided on what it means to be patriotic | Thursday Morning Coffee

July 4, 2019 6:55 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

On this, the 243rd anniversary of a bunch of landed, white rich men gathering in a hot, stuffy room in Philadelphia to engage in a singular act of treason that gave birth to what remains a unique experiment in representative democracy, a new poll finds that while Americans still embrace patriotism, they have very different ideas of what that word means.

For some, including a 20-year-old registered independent from Pennsylvania, that means “standing when the National Anthem plays,” according to a new canvass of 1,000 Americans by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute. 

A 41-year-old Texas Democrat said patriotism meant “saluting the American flag,” and “celebrating the 4th of July,” as many of you are no doubt preparing to do even as you read this.

Still, we’re willing to bet that your backyard bash doesn’t include a multi-million-dollar display of military might. But you might be splashing out on the good beer — except for your cousin from Altoona. He gets the Icy Light.

The heck with him.

Source: Penn State University

According to the poll, about six in 10 Americans defined patriotism as a love of country that involves outward displays of loyalty and respect. That view was more prevalent among Republicans (72 percent) than among Democrats (58 percent) and independents (53 percent), pollsters found.

For other respondents, patriotism is meaningless if it’s not followed up by action — typically through military service.

“I served in the infantry, to me, that’s patriotic. It’s patriotic to fight for what you believe in,” a 29-year-old Republican respondent from Pennsylvania told pollsters. A 53-year-old independent from Connecticut offered a similar sentiment, saying that patriotism is a willingness to sacrifice for the good of your country, and to oppose those who would threaten it, either foreign or domestic.”

All told, 16 percent of Democratic and independent respondents, joined by 10 percent of Republicans “associated patriotism not only with honoring U.S. troops, but also serving in uniform to defend the nation,” pollsters found. A further 13 percent “shared that patriotism for them entails active engagement in the community and nation by being a good citizen and doing good works.”

Source: Penn State University

Some other key takeaways from the poll:

  • “Around 6 percent of Americans, primarily younger adults identifying as Independents or Democrats, expressed rejection of shared traditional patriotic values and love of country. Respondents included roughly equal percentages of Whites, African Americans and Hispanics.
  • “More than three in four respondents 65 and older said that patriotism is “very important” in their daily lives, but that number dropped to 21% for those under 30. Four in 10 of these younger Americans felt that patriotism was unimportant in their daily lives.
  • “While the starkest lines of division surrounded age, the poll also found that Whites and Republicans felt patriotism was very important, while Blacks, Hispanics, Independents and Democrats felt it was less important. Members of these groups seem to place priority on helping people as individuals, with loyalty, pride and love of country coming second.”

The Penn State poll was conducted from June 7 to June 9, in cooperation with YouGov. The final data was “weighted to adjust for variation in the sample from the adult United States population with respect to demographic variables such as geographic region, gender, race/ethnicity, age, and education, and political variables such as voter registration status and political interest.”

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
Stephen Caruso 
looks at the mixed reception that the environmental spending authorized by the new state budget is getting among progressives and the environmental community.

On our Commentary Page, a University of Idaho scholar explains how visiting a national park could change your view of what it means to be an American.

And carrying over a tradition from our old employer, we’re marking this 4th of July by reprinting the Declaration of Independence. It’s a reminder that the words resonate as much as they ever have, while America remains a work in progress.

A scheduling note: We’ll be off on Friday, July 5, which means you’ll have to live without us for one day. The normal order of business will resume on Monday, July 8. The Capital-Star will be running an array of fresh coverage, however, throughout the holiday interval. So watch your Twitters and Facebooks for links. 

Joe Biden campaigns in Pittsburgh (Politico – screen capture)

Joe Biden can be easily explained by Delaware’s ‘shadowy’ political pastThe Inquirer reports.
School officials in Harrisburg weren’t surprised by the ‘scathing’ findings in an audit of the district’s finances, PennLive reports.
The son of the Penn Hills school board president has vowed to chain himself to the White House to protest school debt, the Post-Gazette reports.
A new state law has effectively put an end to snow daysThe Morning Call explains how that will work.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

Medical residents are in a scramble with the closing of Hahenemann Hospital in Philadelphia, WHYY-FM reports.
Only Washington can shut down an immigration detention center in Berks County, Gov. Tom Wolf has said. The PA Post has the story. explains how some states are fighting sperm donor fraud.
Long-serving Lancaster County Commissioner Dennis Stuckey might make a Republican bid for auditor generalPoliticsPA reports.
Politico looks at how Elizabeth WarrenJoe Biden and Kamala Harris are contending for the support of black voters.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a summer jam. It’s ‘Omeo,’ by Darius.

Thursday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
 beat Tampa 9-6 on Wednesday night. And there was much rejoicing.

And now you’re up to date. Happy Independence Day, all. We’ll see you all back here on Monday. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.