This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Tuesday, December 26, 2017:
Pollster George Barna, director of the American Culture & Faith Institute, reported some good news last week: the “lost” generation isn’t so lost after all. Millennials have been called the Peter Pan or Boomerang Generation because of the propensity of many of them to move back in with Mommy and Daddy after being unable to find a job that is “suitable” to their skill sets. They have been called lazy, narcissistic, and “trophy kids” thanks to receiving “participation” trophies just for showing up. The very last thing they have been called is “patriotic.”
Barna could have used Merriam-Webster’s definition of patriotism: “love for or devotion to one’s country.” Or he could have used Noah Webster’s definition from 1828: “Love of one’s country; the passion which aims to serve one’s country either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions in vigor and purity. Patriotism is the characteristic of a good citizen, the noblest passion that animates a man in the character of a citizen.”
Instead Barna selected 15 criteria and asked 1,000 people to pick the best of them. These were the top six:
- Individual rights come with personal responsibilities;
- Proud to be an American;
- Believe in and obey the Constitution;
- Committed to carrying out your individual civic duty;
- Willing to die to protect our freedoms; and
- Defending and living by the rules and ways of life described in the Constitution, whether you agree with them or not.
Between 70 and 90 percent of the 1,000 people Barna polled in October and November said these six attributes described patriotism as accurate. Constitutionalists will be quick to note that three of the six (1, 3, and 6) relate to the founding document of the American republic: the Constitution of the United States of America.
This was borne out as part of his survey asked his audience to rank various elements of patriotism and they came up with this: First, freedom of speech (First Amendment), freedom of religion (First Amendment), American citizenship (Fourteenth Amendment), the U.S. Constitution itself, followed by the American flag, the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, the Bible, and the right to bear arms (Second Amendment). Encouragingly, among those polled, between 92 and 97 percent said that the first four elements were either “very meaningful” to them or “somewhat” meaningful. 78 percent said the right to keep and bear arms was either “very” or “somewhat” meaningful to them.
What about the millennial cohort? Among that cohort 83 percent said that freedom of speech was “very meaningful” to them, while 78 percent of them said they felt the same way about freedom of religion. 70 percent of them said that their American citizenship and the U.S. Constitution were “very meaningful” to them as well. More than half (53 percent) reported that the Bible was “very meaningful” to them.
When separated by religious persuasion, Barna’s results also challenge the presuppositions of many. 95 percent of those who call themselves “born again” consider that individual rights come with personal responsibilities while 90 percent of “notionals” (defined by Barna as a “group that doesn’t stand for anything in particular”) hold the same position. 86 percent of skeptics, according to his survey, agree.
When it comes to the Constitution, 93 percent of “born again” individuals “believe in and obey” it, while 85 percent of “notionals” do, with skeptics right behind, at 81 percent.
Color doesn’t impact the outcome, either: 90 percent of whites polled believe in and obey the constitution while 80 percent of blacks and 78 of Hispanics do.
As for the millennials, Barna expressed his surprise: When asked about the right to keep and bear arms, millennials outscored their oldsters: “59 percent of the people under 50 said that that right was personally very meaningful compared to 53 percent among those 50 or older.” Specifically, 60 percent those between 18 and 29 considered the right enshrined in the Second Amendment to be “very meaningful” to them, ahead of those in the 30-49 cohort (59%), the 50-64 cohort (55%), and those 65+ (51 percent).
There’s more good news from Barna. 73 percent of the 18-29 cohort said they “believe in and obey the Constitution,” while 79 percent of them believe that “individual rights come with personal responsibilities.” And here’s a shocker: 65 percent of them are “willing to die to protect our freedoms.”
Barna also uncovered this: More than half of the people polled know that the American republic is in trouble. Specifically, 49 percent of millennials think that “basic freedoms are under attack in America,” almost exactly the same percentage of the older cohorts whom many consider to be much better informed over the matter.
Barna’s study didn’t escape of the notice of the NRA, which noted that “the NRA and the right to bear arms continue to be strongly associated with this notion [of patriotism] in the American consciousness, and particularly the strong attachment to Second Amendment rights by the youngest generation of American adults[, which] bodes well for the nation’s future.”
Barna’s poll: American Views on Patriotism
NRAILA.org: American Gun Attitudes Continue to Trend Pro-Gun
HART RESEARCH ASSOCIATES/PUBLIC OPINION STRATEGIES AUGUST 2017 – Social Trends Survey NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey