Posted by on March 5, 2017 11:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Categories: Democratic Party Economy Nationalism Political parties in the United States Political positions of the Republican Party Politics republican party Right-wing politics Social Issues University of Kansas

As if there was not enough dividing America right now – Left/Right, Male/Female/Other, Black/White, Muslin/Non-Muslim, or Gay/Straight/Other – AP finds in its latest poll that Americans can’t even agree on what it means to be an American.

A new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Republicans are far more likely to cite a culture grounded in Christian beliefs and the traditions of early European immigrants as essential to U.S. identity. Democrats are more apt to point to the country’s history of mixing of people from around the globe and a tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted. While there’s disagreement on what makes up the American identity, 7 in 10 people — regardless of party — say the country is losing that identity.

There are some points of resounding agreement among Democrats, Republicans and independents about what makes up the country’s identity. Among them: a fair judicial system and rule of law, the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, and the ability to get good jobs and achieve the American dream.

But big gulfs emerged between the left and right on other characteristics seen as inherent to America.

About 65% of Democrats said a mix of global cultures was extremely or very important to American identity, compared with 35% of Republicans. 29% of Democrats saw Christianity as that important, compared with 57% of Republicans. Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say that the ability of people to come to escape violence and persecution is very important, 74% to 55%. Also, 25% of Democrats said the culture of the country’s early European immigrants isvery important, versus 46% of Republicans.

Respondents answers demonstrate the divisions:

“It’s such stark divisions,” said Lynele Jones, a 65-year-old accountant in Boulder, Colorado. “There’s so much turmoil in the American political situation right now. People’s ideas of what is America’s place in the world are so different from one end of the spectrum to the other.”

“If you lose your identity,” Reggie Lawrence, a 44-year-old Republican in Midland, Texas, who runs a business servicing oil fields, said, “What are we? We’re not a country anymore.”

“Our sense of identity is almost inseparable from the subject of immigration because it’s how we were built,” said Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas who studies partisanship and polling. “Given what we are and how we’ve come about, it’s a very natural debate.”

The poll found Democrats were nearly three times as likely as Republicans to say that the U.S. should be a country made up of many cultures and values that change as new people arrive, with far more Republicans saying there should be an essential American culture that immigrants adopt. Republicans overwhelmingly viewed immigrants who arrived in the past decade as having retained their own cultures and values rather than adopting American ones. Among the areas seen as the greatest threats to the American way of life, Democrats coalesce around a fear of the country’s political leaders, political polarization and economic inequality. Most Republicans point instead to illegal immigration as a top concern.

The results reflect long-standing differences in the U.S. between one camp’s desire for openness and diversity and another’s vision of the country grounded in the white, English-speaking, Protestant traditions of its early settlers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *