This story is part of Fast Company’s “USA: Can This Brand Be Saved?” package, approaching the question from a variety of angles and perspectives, ultimately aiming for an in-depth look at what America’s brand is, how it’s changed over the past four years, and where it needs to go from here. Click here to read the whole series.
This year has been one of vast adversity and devastation—full of political chaos and economic strife, of deadly threats to our health and the existential upending of life as we know it. A global pandemic kept the country at home. Millions lost jobs as thousands of businesses shuttered. Police killings of unarmed Black men and women roiled the nation and waves of Black Lives Matter protests swelled in response. And after one of the most fraught election campaigns in recent history, our current president refuses to concede to our democratic system.
But in the wake of all this despair—a spring of hope, if you will: The majority of us are still proud to be American.
That’s according to a new Harris Poll of U.S. adults conducted exclusively for Fast Company. Among the respondents, 65% said yes when asked, “Are you proud to be an American in 2020?” suggesting that recent events haven’t completely crushed our sense of patriotism. They have, however, thrown it into question, as 18% responded with no, and a near equal 17% said they were not sure.
But across nearly every demographic, a majority said they were proud, although more men than women said so, at 72% versus 59%. Broken down by age, older Americans were significantly more likely to say they were proud, with 74% of people older than 65 saying so compared to just 56% of 18- to 34-year-olds.
The percentages of proud Americans did not change significantly when broken down by race: 68% of white and Black Americans, and 67% of Hispanic Americans, said they were proud to be American. However, 21% of Black Americans said they were not proud and 17% of Hispanics said they were not sure—which were the largest percentages for each response.
Still, this overwhelming sense of pride is not without its misgivings: Nearly half, or 49%, of the poll’s respondents believe America’s reputation has worsened in the past four years under the Trump administration, compared to 27% who said it was better and 24% who said it was about the same.
And among respondents for both questions, older Americans were most likely to believe the country’s standing in the world had fallen—with 58% of Americans in the 65-plus age group indicating so, compared to 42% of Americans ages 18 to 34.
“Despite concerns about America’s international reputation, Americans are still proud to be American,” Harris researchers wrote.
Southern and charmed
Regionally, American pride appeared to run strongest in the South, with 70% positive responses, and weakest in the West, with 58% positive responses.
The poll was conducted last weekend, almost a week after news outlets called the 2020 presidential race for Joe Biden. Its results suggest that the country is optimistic for the future, perhaps contributing to the patriotic sentiment. A dominant 45% said they believed America’s reputation will improve in the next four years, presumably under the Biden administration, with Black respondents being the most positive at 54%. And 38% said that the U.S. excels relative to the rest of the world in providing opportunity for a better life, financial success, and access to education.
But respondents also felt that the U.S. fails most in practicing tolerance for all cultures and religions, and in its commitment to human and civil rights, which nearly a third of both Blacks and Hispanics said was lacking.
So while we as a whole remain hopeful, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.