Unbelievable Poll Shows American Values Are Dying, and Fast

Growing up, I was very close to my grandparents, who were from the Greatest Generation. They were from modest means, my grandfather served in World War II, and they lived a very traditional American family life.

They went to church on Sundays, believed in hard work and the importance of family, and were fiercely patriotic. Like my parents, if my grandparents were alive today, they would be sad over how life in America has changed, almost as if what it means to be an American has completely changed… and not for the better.

A recent Wall Street Journal poll has found that the core fundamental values that made America are collapsing.

Is this a sign of the natural evolution of priorities, or are we witnessing what perhaps is the greatest threat to the American Dream?

God And Country

The Wall Street Journal conducts a yearly poll to see how Americans weigh various ‘traditional American values.’ This year showed some stark results, particularly in two main categories: religion and patriotism.

Only 39% of Americans say religious faith is very important to them, and 38% say patriotism is very important. Compare those numbers to the first year this poll was conducted in 1998, when 62% valued religious faith and 70% valued patriotism.

Not surprisingly, the numbers differ based on age group. For example, of Americans over 65, 60% said patriotism was very important, compared to only 23% of those aged 30 and below. 

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Perhaps the most interesting was the breakdown of how Americans view our country on the world stage overall:

  • 21% said the “United States stands above all countries in the world”
  • 50% said the “United States is one of the greatest countries in the world, along with some others”
  • 27% said, “there are other countries better than the United States”

It wasn’t just faith and patriotism that took a hit in the poll.

The number of Americans who value hard work, having children, and being involved in their communities also decreased significantly.

Intolerant Numbers

While the decline in faith and patriotism is alarming, other numbers were much more interesting. For example, 80% of Americans polled four years ago felt that tolerance for others was very important.

This year that number plummeted to 58%. Think about that for a second, with all the talk about equity, fairness, tolerance, and accepting of others – just over half of Americans value tolerance compared to four years ago when over three-quarters valued tolerance.

How is it that at a time when tolerance is shoved down our throats 24/7, fewer Americans view it as important? When you look at the fact that in the same poll, 43% of Americans believe our society has gone too far in accommodating transgender people, it’s easy to see a correlation between the trans movement and Americans’ exhaustion with “tolerance.”

Additionally, half of Americans have a very or somewhat unfavorable view of being asked to use transgender pronouns. Who can blame them?

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You can’t apply for a job, fill out a survey or school application, or, in general, live your life without at some point either being asked for your ‘preferred pronouns’ or being told what someone’s ‘preferred pronouns’ are, whether you ask for it or not.

So what does this poll indicate, and should we care?

A Slow Death

The decline of patriotism and faith in America has been happening steadily for about a decade or so. Some might argue that what we are witnessing with the decline in American values is just a natural progression of generational change. With new technology, new ideas, and new problems come new values.

But I argue this slow death of American values is due to a concerted effort to change the definition of what it means to be an American.

From the time they start grade school through college, our children are taught to only hate and judge America both past and present, versus learning what the idea of America is about.

We are told only to see the faults in our history and each other, identifying as anything but American. Am I naive enough to argue that we have been perfect from the birth of the idea of America until now?

Of course not. But to focus solely on the missteps and not educate and discuss the ideas and principles behind the greatest experiment that is America has led us on this predictable path of devalued patriotism and faith.

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You’re so retro

Tradition can seem tedious and regressive for some. Still, the reality is many of the traditional values that our grandparents and their grandparents held close were what led to the achievement of the American Dream – freedom to live your life, provide for your family, and build something of importance and value.

Traditions become traditions for a reason.

Americans no longer view having children as a life goal, thus devaluing the concept of family overall.

But marriage and family are foundational to affection, procreation, and the dignified duty of parenthood. Creating a family of your own is the building block of a basic civilized society, brings meaning to life during good times and bad, and builds bonds through the inherent struggle of life. 

Faith and patriotism go hand in hand. To believe in something greater than yourself, whether it be a higher power or the idea that the ideals and principles that are the basis of your nation are righteous and good, creates a shared identity regardless of surface differences.

Senator Josh Hawley wrote regarding the results of this year’s poll:

“This is the greatest challenge our nation faces – the loss of our common culture & the principles & beliefs that bind us together.”

Instead of all of us being proud Americans, we divide into our surface detail camps. For example, I’m a white heterosexual female oppressor and victim who cannot be good or achieve my goals because of my gender. 

It’s no wonder Americans are so pessimistic. 

Where Are The Citizens?

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Christian, straight, gay, black, white, man, or woman, we all have a shared duty – to be productive and responsible citizens. The decline in faith, patriotism, hard work, family, and community is directly related to the ultimate disease – the devaluation of the Good Citizen.

We no longer teach our youth or practice the concept of citizenship. To be a good citizen is to understand your country in order to challenge your nation and engage with it productively and intelligently.

Our institutions, from the family unit to the schools to the businesses to the country, no longer emphasize the need for all of us to find ways to contribute to our society positively, exercise tolerance towards those with which we disagree, and practice being the “Good Samaritan” in our communities. While being a good citizen might not sound as sexy as being an ‘ally’ or ‘advocate,’ it leads to more positive outcomes.

One in five American adults lives with mental illness. Unfortunately, we live in a society where pessimism is in, and optimism is out.

It’s easy to be a pessimist; it takes work to be an optimist. Pessimism enables the thought that what happens to you is out of your control and inevitable. 

Optimism requires you to work at life, own your fate, and think of those other than yourself. We must bring back the Optimistic Citizen and say goodbye to the American Victim – or else we will be lost to the ages.

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