The Great Divide

One of the fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives, perhaps the most important one politically, is what they think (or how they feel) about the United States. Conservatives think the U.S. is a great country. Liberals think it is a deeply flawed, but redeemable, country. Radicals think it is hopelessly bad and should be destroyed or remade.

This difference is brought into sharp focus by the debate that has erupted in recent days over patriotism. Barack Obama gave a speech on the subject in which, as we noted here, he suggested that the height of patriotism lies in criticizing one’s country. This is a common liberal conceit. To Obama’s left lie his wife’s claim that America is “downright mean,” and, still farther to the left, Jeremiah Wright’s “God damn America” rants.

One of the basic problems faced by liberals, and the reason why they tend to get sensitive whenever the subject of patriotism comes up, is that a large majority of Americans share the conservatives’ view of their country. Rasmussen Reports adds up the numbers: 75% of respondents are proud of America’s history, while 13% are ashamed of it. 64% say the U.S. is a positive role model for human rights.

As always, these numbers break down quite differently based on party affiliation. 91% of Republicans are proud of our country’s history, compared to 64% of Democrats. Not surprisingly, there is also a racial divide: 81% of white respondents, but only 44% of African-Americans, are proud of America’s history. (It would be interesting to see the breakdown for other races, but for some reason Rasmussen doesn’t provide it.)

These data highlight one of Obama’s problems as he moves toward the center for the election in November. His associations with anti-Americans like Wright, Ayers and Dohrn help him on the far left, the milieu from which he entered politics; don’t hurt him with liberals; but they are damaging, potentially severely so, to the extent that mainstream Americans learn of them. Watch for Obama to become more explicitly pro-American the closer we get to November.

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