The beauty of the artificial constructs we call generations is that it allows us to lump together and generalize about huge swaths of the American public. We love to do this sort of cataloging, this bleak mental compartmentalization that lets us dismiss or embrace people quickly, some weird artifact of the time when we had to protect our caves with spears and so needed to evaluate threats quickly.
To do this effectively, you need a particular number of categories into which people can be pigeonholed, with the sweet spot at something around half a dozen. We recognize that dismissing all Democrats or all Republicans as one thing or the other is silly and overly general (though we do it anyway), so we cross-pollinate with "moderate Democrats" and "conservative Republicans" and so on. The Zodiac is too big and too obscure; only hippie weirdos know the purported difference between a Taurus and a Scion or whatever the different categories are.
But generations, man. There are just a few — silent, greatest, boomer, X, millennial and nü-millennial (a.k.a. the little babies that we haven't named yet) — and it's super easy to catalogue people into their generation by sight. See a young person using an "i-Phone" and talking about Justin Bieber? Millennial — and therefore flighty and goofy and selfie.
And thanks to Gallup, we now know something else about millennials: They hate America.
Since 2001, Gallup has asked Americans how proud they are to be Americans — a sort of patriotic temperature-taking. There are five possible responses: not at all, only a little, moderately, very and extremely. "Extremely" is a funny way to put it, like you are taking patriotism to the extreme — the Poochie of patriotism — and therefore look like this guy.
— USS Hornet Museum (@HornetMuseum) May 30, 2016
In that first 2001 survey, 55 percent of American adults were extremely proud to be American. That survey was conducted in January, though, and in the next survey, conducted after the 9/11 attacks, the figure jumped to 65 percent. By 2003, right after the start of the second Gulf War, the number was 70 percent. But then it started to drop. This year, the number of extremely proud Americans is at only 52 percent — the lowest recorded so far.
Why? Because millennials. Well, and liberals.
Gallup provided data from 2001, 2003 and 2016 for a number of demographic groups, and while the trend in each is consistent — up then down — the numbers differ. Republicans are consistently the most extremely proud of their country, peaking at 80 percent in 2003 but still at 68 percent — higher than Democrats ever were. Liberals are at 36 percent in 2016, the lowest figure, save for those under-30 types. Only 34 percent of millennials are extremely proud to be American.
There's overlap between some of those categories: Millennials are more likely to be liberal and nonwhite than older Americans are, for example. If we're clumping people together, though — which we are because that is what we do — it's those millennials that are dragging our extremely proud numbers down.
Over this Fourth of July weekend, then, you are encouraged to reach out to the millennials in your life and encourage them to take their American pride to a new extreme. Maybe show them this video, which is categorically the most extremely American snippet of film I've ever seen in my life.
You can put it on the Snap-chat and they will see it there. A grateful nation thanks you for your service.