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Is there a patriotism gap?
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Despite prolonged economic troubles, deep political divisions, headaches abroad, and a sense the country is on the wrong track, the heartening news this summer is a majority of people say they often feel proud to be an American.
A new Pew Research Center poll divides the public into seven political categories. There are "steadfast conservatives" who embrace social and small-government conservatism. "Business conservatives" who are more pro-Wall Street. "Young outsiders" who distrust both political parties but hold liberal positions on the environment and social issues. The "next generation left" who are skeptical about government's effectiveness. The "faith and family left" who favor an activist government but are somewhat socially conservative. The "hard-pressed skeptics" who are financially stressed, lean Democratic but distrust government. And finally, the "solid liberals" who take the liberal position on everything.
Pew asked members of all categories whether they "often feel proud to be American." The conservatives are most proud -- 81 percent of the business conservatives and 72 percent of the steadfast conservatives.
There's a dropoff after that, but still, majorities of other groups express pride. Only among the solid liberals does the number fall below a majority, with just 40 percent saying they often feel proud. Why do they feel the way they do?
According to Pew, solid liberals make up about 17 percent of registered voters. Most (69 percent) are white. They are "highly educated and affluent," according to the survey.
Solid liberals are more urban than other groups, more likely to use public transportation, more likely to recycle. They're the most likely to say they want to live close to museums and theaters, and the least likely to hunt or fish.
They're not terribly religious. According to Pew, 10 percent describe themselves as atheists, nine percent as agnostics, and 22 percent as "nothing in particular." Together, that is 41 percent who have no religious affiliation at all.
They voted for Obama more than any other ideological group -- 91 percent. Today they give the president a job approval rating of 84 percent.
According to Pew, the most conservative Americans are likely to say honor and duty are their core values. Solid liberals are more likely to say compassion and helping others are their core values.
Solid liberals agree with the statement the United States is a great country, but do not believe it is any greater than some other countries. But here's the thing: Despite negative feelings about the U.S., solid liberals are the most optimistic of any of the categories; 70 percent say America's best days lie ahead. And they believe the U.S. has been successful because of its ability to change.
There seems no doubt the country has changed in the solid liberals' direction. There is a fledgling national health care system. More economic regulation. New environmental restrictions. A strongly pro-choice administration. A growing immigrant population.
That's a lot of change. Maybe those solid liberals should feel proud a bit more often.
Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.