Let’s talk about America this Independence Day


This July 4, citizens across our country will celebrate the 248th birthday of our nation. Cities will hold their annual parades and firework shows, friends and family members will host barbeques in their backyards, and flags will continue to wave in the warm breeze of summer.

However, while most people will be celebrating the festivities, an alarming number of people likely will not. A startling trend has continued to grow for the past two decades nearly unnoticed, and I feel that this week’s legislative update is the perfect opportunity to call some much needed attention to this pressing issue: American pride is on the decline.

Since January 2001, Gallup has conducted a number of polls each year in an attempt to measure how proud U.S. adults feel to be an American. While pride swelled following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, it has declined steadily since 2005. Despite this decline, the majority of U.S. adults still considered themselves “extremely proud” to be an American, with over 70% of expressing this sentiment until 2017. However, since 2017 the number of Americans feeling extreme pride has dropped below 50%. In 2022, the record was broken with only 38% of U.S. adults saying that they feel extremely proud to be an American. In 2023, this average held steady at just 39% of U.S. adults expressing that they were extremely proud to be an American.

What is also alarming is that two factors above all others can be traced as having the largest indicator of someone’s answer to this question: age and political affiliation.

50% of U.S. adults age 55 or older said they were extremely proud to be an American, however only 40% of those aged 35-54 and 18% of those aged 18-34 said the same. When it comes to political affiliation, the difference is even larger. Of those who said they are extremely proud to be an America 60% were Republicans, 33% were independents, and 29% were Democrats. Even across the political divide however, young adults still tend to have less pride in being an American than other age demographics.

These numbers are heartbreaking, and have yet to show signs of improvement. President Ronald Reagan even warned us of this coming confrontation in his farewell address stating “Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer in style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t re-institutionalized it.”

However, despite how grim these statistics may seem there is still hope. This situation can be remedied, but this can only be possible through the actions taken first at home.

That is why this Independence Day, I am asking you all to take a simple yet important step to help correct our nation’s course. Whether it be around the picnic table or after the last firework has crossed the sky, I would like you to ask your family and friends this question: “What makes you proud to be an American?” Sincerely listen to what they have to say, and start a conversation. Discuss the rights inscribed in our constitution, the freedoms we enjoy, and the sacrifices of those who came before us.

In the words of President Reagan, “All great change in America begins around the dinner table.”

As always, I can be reached anytime through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at Amy.Neighbors@lrc.ky.gov and keep track through the Kentucky legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov.


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