The Washington Post

We’re No. 1? Americans increasingly don’t think so.

A new Pew Research Center poll shows that the number of Americans who think the United States "stands above all other countries" has declined from 38 percent three years ago to 28 percent today. A strong majority of Americans (58 percent) say the U.S. is merely "one of the greatest countries."

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Just 12 percent say other countries are clearly better. So we've got that going for us, which is nice. (USA! USA!)


The decline in American exceptionalism has even taken hold among those who have often been the biggest proponents of it: Republicans. Just 37 percent view the United States as a singularly great country -- down 15 points from 2011.

Independents and Democrats have experienced smaller shifts.


But the most distressing thing for the American exceptionalism lobby (that exists, right?) has to be the age gap. Just 15 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 believe in the United State's superiority -- down from 27 percent in 2011.

That's tied for the biggest drop ... with the next-youngest age group, 30-49.


This doesn't mean that American exceptionalism will die alongside its older adherents, but it does suggest America's youth are in need of a healthy dose of patriotism. We suggest this:

Whitney Houston- The Star Spangled Banner from Adam D on Vimeo.

Or this:

If that doesn't work, we recommend watching President Whitmore's speech from "Independence Day," or just staring at a photo of Lee Greenwood.

Americans' declining satisfaction with freedom might be one of the causes for this decline in exceptionalism. In 2006, Gallup found that Americans were among the most satisfied in the world when it came to their country's freedom. Now, the United States is in 36th place, as their satisfaction has declined by 12 percentage points.

Gallup posits that the decline could be correlated with the economy's lackluster performance in the past few years, coupled with increasing frustration with the government and corruption.

However, another poll offers one bit of good news for tomorrow's holiday. Even if you don't think America is the best, or don't think we live in a free country or even don't know why we celebrate Independence Day, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s 2010 Grilling Poll suggests that you will at least eat some delicious grilled meats or vegetables.

Americans may not think that the United States is No. 1 anymore, but the holiday designated to celebrate America is the No. 1 holiday for outdoor cooking. And that's something.

From American flags to fireworks, how much of the most patriotic Fourth of July items are actually made in the United States? (Julie Percha/The Washington Post)
Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.



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