Posted by Scott Malensek on 23 October, 2008 at 12:47 pm. 2 comments already!


Recently Celebrity funnyman and half assed political pundit, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, took it personally and was offended when Gov Sarah Palin remarked that she was happy to be in a small town where REAL AMERICANS can be found. Stewart and other liberals were offended because they saw that as a claim that they are less patriotic, that big city dwellers are less patriotic, and that they as individuals were less patriotic. Turns out, statistics back of Gov Palin’s claim (though I doubt we’ll see an apology from Stewart, Biden, Obama, or other faux liberals).

Naturally, how to measure patriotism is a matter of argument. One way is to look at differences in military involvement: Rural and small-town families are more likely to see their children go off into combat, and return in body bags. Or, we can turn to one of the few recent non-partisan surveys on the matter, the American National Election Study from the University of Michigan. It’s produced every election year, and the most recent data is from 2004.

This installment asked two pertinent questions:
1. How strong is your love for your country? . . . EXTREMELY strong, VERY strong, SOMEWHAT strong, or NOT VERY strong?
2. Is being an American EXTREMELY important, VERY important, SOMEWHAT important, NOT TOO important, or NOT AT ALL important to you personally?

If we scrutinize the responses from large cities, suburbs, and small towns, the small towns are far more patriotic. Nearly three in every four (73.4 percent) respondents from counties of fewer than 25,000 people expressed that their love for their country was extremely strong, compared to only half of those in counties with more than 300,000 inhabitants. In the nation’s largest population centers, those expressing “extremely strong” love for country stood at only 46 percent. And over two-thirds of respondents from small counties reported that it is ”extremely important” to be American, compared to about half of big-city folk.

It is certainly possible that factors other than simple geography are at work here. The populations in small towns are older, and older people are generally more expressive of pro-American values than younger people are, for example. Also, rural areas are more Republican, and the University of Michigan survey shows a significant partisan difference in patriotism. Democrats are considerably less likely to express strong love of country than Republicans are, and less likely to think being an American is important. Of those who claimed to be “Strong Democrats,” only around half expressed extremely strong love of country, compared to three-fourths of the “Strong Republicans.” A sizable share of (but by no means all) committed Democrats are apparently embarrassed about their country and about being American.


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