The New Secession
On the decline of American pride.
The American Civil War decided the question of whether states have a right to secede from the American Union. The answer was no. That has long been settled. Yet today, more than a century and a half afterward, another kind of secession is playing out across America: individuals are seceding one by one from the national enterprise. Americans, to a surprising degree, are no longer proud of their country and do not trust their government, these misgiving being two crucial aspects of their disenchantment that portend troubling implications for America’s future.
Public-opinion polls suggest that Americans are far less patriotic than they were just a few decades ago. According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, just 38 percent of Americans say that patriotism is important to them, compared to 70 percent who expressed patriotic feelings in a poll taken in 1998. The decline in patriotism is most pronounced among younger Americans: only 23 percent of respondents under age thirty said that patriotism is important to them. That is a troubling statistic because it suggests that the problem is growing worse over time and that the age group with the most negative outlook on America is poised to take over the leadership of the country.
James Piereson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
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