Patriotism, religion and hard work hold less importance
Patriotism, religious faith, having children and other priorities that helped define the national character for generations are receding in importance to Americans, a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll finds.
The survey, conducted with NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan research organization, also finds the country sharply divided by political party over social trends such as the push for racial diversity in businesses and the use of gender-neutral pronouns.
Some 38% of respondents said patriotism was very important to them, and 39% said religion was very important. That was down sharply from when the Journal first asked the question in 1998, when 70% deemed patriotism to be very important, and 62% said so of religion.
The share of Americans who say that having children, involvement in their community and hard work are very important values has also fallen. Tolerance for others, deemed very important by 80% of Americans as recently as four years ago, has fallen to 58% since then.
Bill McInturff, a pollster who worked on a previous Journal survey that measured these attitudes along with NBC News, said that “these differences are so dramatic, it paints a new and surprising portrait of a changing America.’’ He surmised that “perhaps the toll of our political division, Covid and the lowest economic confidence in decades is having a startling effect on our core values.’’
A number of events have shaken and in some ways fractured the nation since the Journal first asked about unifying values, among them the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent economic downturn and the rise of former President Donald Trump.
The only priority the Journal tested that has grown in importance in the past quarter-century is money, which was cited as very important by 43% in the new survey, up from 31% in 1998.
By Aaron Zitner