DICK BAYNTON: The Decline of Patriotism

Dick Baynton

It was troubling to read that a Gallup poll taken in 2018 showed that poll participants who were ‘extremely proud’ to be a citizen of the United States was at the lowest level since the poll was first taken 18 years ago. The poll revealed that just 47% felt truly patriotic compared with the 70% in 2003. The results added that for adults over age 55, 80% felt patriotic while citizens under the age of 38 only 42% felt patriotic.

No one knows the reason for the fall of patriotism in the hearts and minds of citizens and everyone probably has an opinion that they think is correct. Is it possible that young citizens think they need more free stuff from local, state and federal government? Is it possible that many younger members of clan ‘USA’ think in terms of racial discrimination or inverted opportunities related to economic standing? Is it possible that teenagers and young adults think the ‘deck is stacked against them’ regarding employment, earnings and advancement?’ Could part of the problem for citizens under the age of 38 believe they can’t afford the car or pickup or home of their choice due to increasing costs caused by inflation?

Academic studies could possibly explain the reasons that many have abandoned patriotism. It would take years of interviews of thousands of people and the logic and mathematical comprehension to determine what ‘might’ be the cause of loss of loyalty to national symbols like the flag, the pledge of allegiance, the Constitution, the military, government or law enforcement officials. Assuming a large swath of our citizens is not patriotic or loyal the question arises, ‘If you feel a lack of patriotism to your homeland by birth or naturalization, what country meets at least your minimum requirements for feelings of patriotism?’

A deep concern is the turn toward ‘globalism’ that has emerged over the past decade; to some politicians and government officials this means that anyone born anywhere is a valid citizen anywhere. The concept of national sovereignty is dismissed by some as an unnecessary evil to keep citizens from entering. For those of us who have observed the changes in Europe from ‘nationalism’ to a regional form of globalism (the EU) tested the financial limits of developed nations to absorb thousands of émigrés. Many, perhaps most ‘refugees’ moved to prosperous nations without employment skills and void of funds for family support. One logical answer is to send development assistance to those nations to develop natural resources and how to add value to exports.

Here in the USA the immigration debate has been going on for many years. Our political parties can’t agree on revised laws and rules for immigration so nothing happens and those in power use various methods of circumventing existing laws. Our country is the most sought-after nation for foreigners to improve their lives of employment, freedom and general satisfaction and happiness. On the other hand, there are those who want to enter our country to ‘improve it’ by bringing their native customs, religions and laws with them. We should remember Robert Frost’s 1914 poem entitled ‘Mending Wall’ that ends with the words, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Another important reason for not adhering to the concept of patriotism is that we have been training citizens to get under the tent of government dependency. This means that many students graduating from high school believe that they should enjoy free college regardless of their intellectual capabilities and interests. Beyond college, many graduates and even dropouts think that they should have an assured job with relatively high pay. Many college students take courses of study that are irrelevant to the needs of commerce and industry and thus have difficulty finding work that fits their knowledge.

There seems to have been drastic changes in family formations such as high divorce rates, absentee fathers who could have provided critical nurturing to avoid the mystical attraction of gang membership and violence to gain recognition.  Young people may have become cynical when hearing about deadly conflicts going on in every continent on earth and wonder about the integrity of all mankind.

Perhaps we should recognize that there have been restless malcontents throughout the ages who would be unhappy and unpatriotic under any circumstances. Go USA!

Dick Baynton