American Nationalism Takes a Dive
by Marshall Sloane on Friday, November 8th, 2013
Our sense of nationalism has always characterized the American spirit; through many conflicts, our pride for America has kept us resilient. However, a divided Congress, a shrinking economy, and growing social inequality have led Americans to lose the pride that once united the country. Nationalism has always been a symbol of the people’s faith in the government and with American greatness: strong nationalism manifests the people’s belief in hope and success. It pushes the public to live up to the expectations of the “model state.” Therefore, strong feelings of nationalism naturally lead to pride for one’s country; however, this pride can evolve into arrogance, which can turn into blind denial. Without a doubt, the demise of American nationalism has been fueled by recent events in the government. The perception of a weak government, whose only success lies in pushing problems down the road to deal with later, has caused the public to lose faith in its representatives. According to a recent Pew study, only 19% of people trust the government to do the right thing almost all of the time, a belief that has triggered the American dream to disappear as a result of growing mistrust in Washington.
The demise of American exceptionalism follows the loss of hope and promise. The Brookings Institution, in September of 2013, reported that for the first time in decades, Americans have the least hope for individual economic growth. Essentially, the article stated that today’s American children have the lowest probability ever recorded of being economically better suited than their parents. The American dream, however, preaches the opposite. People need to have hope that, regardless of the adversity they face along the way, they will always have the opportunity to be better off than past generations. Once that promise is lost, the American dream and nationalism soon follow.
Another fundamental idea associated with American nationalism is that the government fights for the rights and well-being of the people. For many Americans now, that idea is hard to believe. With such partisanship and gridlock in Congress, Americans feel that representatives are more tied to their party than the voters who elected them. A recent Gallup poll found that 60% of Americans feel that the Republicans and Democrats do such a poor job representing them that a third party is needed to intervene. People have lost faith in the government and in the exceptionalism of America.
American success is driven not by economic might and political leadership but rather by its resilience. When Americans feel less passionate about their country, they adopt a more careless attitude in the future of the country. How can the United States excel if its people do not want to? Nevertheless, the loss of nationalism is not the worst of the situation; rather, this failure projects the image of a hopeless nation where none can excel or govern correctly.
In order to restore nationalism, America needs to restore hope based on the promise of change. Americans feel lost in a nation lacking social equality; this belief has enforced partisanship. American representatives need to make the effort to engage in discussions and to remove themselves from party affiliation, and new laws such as education policy and employment opportunities need to enable greater economic opportunity. We, as Americans, must believe in upward mobility and future success in order to instill the image of true superpower in the eyes of the world.
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