Are conservatives more patriotic than liberals?

A new survey suggests they are. The survey was conducted by American Culture & Faith Institute. Its report can be found here.

The study identified certain propositions that those surveyed believe are an accurate description of what it means to be patriotic. It then determined the extent to which conservatives and liberals view each proposition as accurately describing patriotism.

Below are the six propositions that at least 70 percent of all respondents believe are an accurate description of what patriotism means. The numbers next to them percentages who find the description accurate, inaccurate, and are unsure:

Individual rights come with personal responsibilities: 90 5 5

Feel proud to be an American: 86 8 6

Believe in and obey the Constitution: 86 6 7

Committed to carrying out your individual civic duty: 76 12 12

Willing to die to protect our freedoms: 72 14 15

Defending and living by the rules and ways of life described
in the Constitution, whether you agree with them or not: 70 17 13

In all six cases, more conservatives than liberals believe the proposition accurately describes patriotism. In almost all cases, the discrepancy is large.

Here are the conservative/liberal splits:

Individual rights come with personal responsibilities: 97-90

Feel proud to be an American: 95-78

Believe in and obey the Constitution: 95-82

Committed to carrying out your individual civic duty: 85-76

Willing to die to protect our freedoms: 80-65

Defending and living by the rules and ways of life described
in the Constitution, whether you agree with them or not: 88-62

In theory, it’s possible that liberals who don’t believe that these propositions define what patriotism is nonetheless subscribe to the propositions. In practice, it seems clear that liberals are less attached than conservatives to the beliefs that have traditionally defined patriotism and, for the overwhelming majority of Americans, still do.

In this connection, the survey also found that conservatives are far more likely than liberals to characterize themselves as highly patriotic. Three-fourths of conservative said they are either “extremely” or “very patriotic.” Only half of liberals (and half of moderates) said they are.

There was one proposition that more liberals than conservatives say accurately describes patriotism: “Use non-violent civil disobedience to overcome social injustice.” 67 percent of those surveyed viewed this as an accurate description. 65 percent of conservatives agreed with the description (along with 65 percent of moderates) compared to 77 percent of liberals.

It’s a sign of the times, and not a good one, that the “civil disobedience for social justice” proposition came in one point ahead of “Willing to serve in the military or via some other form of public service if the need arises and the country seeks your help.” The latter proposition, given the qualifiers, strikes me as the sine qua non of patriotism.

Breaking the law non-violently to overcome, say, slavery or apartheid can easily be viewed as patriotic. But breaking the law for the lesser purposes associated these days with “social justice,” e.g., redistributing income? I don’t think so.

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