Poll: Most love America, but don't think founders would feel the same
July 4th, 2013
11:15 AM ET
10 years ago

Poll: Most love America, but don't think founders would feel the same

(CNN) - With signs of patriotism abounding for the Fourth of July, a new survey indicates seven in 10 Americans think the Founding Fathers would be disappointed by the way the United States has turned out, 237 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

But that doesn't mean Americans themselves are displeased. The same poll, released Thursday by Gallup, shows the number who say they're very or extremely proud to be American remains steady at 85%.

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According to the poll, 57% of adult Americans are "extremely proud" and 28% are "very proud." In addition, 10% say they are "moderately proud," with 3% saying they are "only a little proud" and a mere 1% saying they are "not at all proud."

The survey's results vary little from previous years, which have hovered between 80% and 85% since 2005 for those who are very/extremely proud. In the few years after 9/11, that number came closer to 90%-92%.

Americans living in the South are slightly more likely than those in the East and West to say they are proud, Gallup notes. Breaking it down by ideology, conservatives and Republicans are also a little bit more likely to express a sense of pride than Americans on the other side of the political spectrum.

Despite the high level of patriotism, 71% of Americans think the signers of the Declaration of Independence wouldn't be pleased with the nation today. That number has steadily risen since 2001, when the number stood at 42%.

On the contrary, 27% in this year's poll say the Founding Fathers would appreciate how the country now fares, down from 54% in 2001.

Older Americans, those in the Midwest, conservatives and Republicans are the least likely to say the signers would be pleased, according to Gallup.

"This indicates that Republicans' and conservatives' growing disenchantment with a Democratic president could be one of the underlying factors in the decline in the percentage of Americans who say the signers would be pleased," stated a release with the Gallup poll.

For the survey, Gallup questioned 1,529 adults by telephone from June 1-4 and 2,048 adults from June 20-24. The poll's sampling error is plus or minute three percentage points.

Filed under: July 4 • Polls
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. ST

    Things are changing for sure. That is right because as time goes on, also people and what is surrounding them change as well. Those days of our founding fathers, there was no internet which we have now. No one in their mind thought that a black man will ever lead this great nation on earth, we have him now. I do not see with all these changes which we have seen happening, they could agree with us that we all have the same love.

    July 4, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. OrionStyles

    British oppression, centered around fractional reserve banking, cronyism and oppressive laws is what they fought to free themselves of.


    July 4, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    "Republicans' and conservatives' growing disenchantment with a Democratic president"

    Fueled by lies and obstruction by Repubs and conservatives. If they cared more for their country and less about their party's political gain, we'd all be a lot better off.

    July 4, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Sue

    They would probably just be fascinated by light switches and kitchen taps. Anyone from that era, from whatever country, would be in a state of culture shock coming into a modern day society.

    July 4, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. NSL

    I think America continues to be the best nation on Earth to live, yet while we used to be heads and tails beyond everyone else, we have been reeled back to the pack, though marginally ahead.

    I am ashamed of our elected officials who, for the most part, no longer put the nation's interests before their own. I am ashamed of the extremist portions of our political parties who put their own self interests before the American people at large. I am ashamed of well off Americans who tell the poor, and most vulnerable, we're unwilling to help you make it on your own. I am ashamed of our states who refuse provide high quality education for our young people.

    I am ashamed of so much of the religious establishment who do so much harm to their members and the nation though their intolerance, and bigotry, and their teaching of hate. Of all the segments of America, these are the people who should be among the best of us, teaching love, tolerance, and teamwork, but instead have sunk to the depths of the worst of society, physically and mentally assaulting the most vulnerable, teaching, almost brainwashing hate to their believers, of those who are different than themselves, allowing no room, not an inch of space in the hearts for anyone who is different than they are, teaching that their way is the only way, and that the ideas and ways of everyone else is evil.

    I am proud of the vast majority of our service men and women who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so much for our nation and treat each other with respect and humility.

    I am proud of the majority of Americas, who daily put their differences aside for the greater good of the nation and work together with people who are the same at they are and people who are virtually their opposite, to achieve that.

    July 4, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    @Jed: Thank you for your thoughtful post. "We have problems to solve, and experience has shown that angry people have very poor problem solving skills. Until we get the anger under control, we're never going to make any headway in improving the net quality of life for all of humanity."

    This anger makes for good ratings, good advertising revenue, good fundraising fodder. Our culture has become lazy; instead of actually living life, people watch "reality shows". Instead of doing the hard work to address challenges, we want simple, fast solutions – and when that doesn't happen (or we don't get our way in general), we whine and stomp and say everyone is picking on us, much like a three-year-old.

    I'm a Democrat and I know my party isn't perfect, but when it comes to this childish behavior, I think the Repubs have perfected it to an art form. Their obsession with power and money has caused their leadership to put that ahead of the goodwill of our nation. It's pathetic and sad and, in my book, anti-American.

    July 4, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. PJ

    I'm VERY proud to be an American! The ones who should hang their heads in shame is our Congress. You can
    bet they are waving the flag, singing "God Bless America" and stuffing themselves with whatever freebies
    are fed to them. The Founding Fathers would take them behind the woodshed and give them a lesson in
    what America has gone through and still be the greatest Country ever!
    I have not lost one freedom. I still have my bible, my Church is still open, and I can say whatever I want without
    retribution, except from the haters.
    Yes sir, I am proud to tell anybody, anywhere at any time I am an American.
    The sacrifices that have been made from all who went before us will not be forgotten by the true

    July 4, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    @Ramsey: "The founding fathers would be heated ifmthey got a paystub and saw how much we get taxed!"

    They would look around at our infrastructure and be astounded we have so much and are able to provide for the vast majority of our society and think we're getting it at bargain prices!

    P.S. The Founders are the ones who mention "General Welfare" in two places in the Constitution: in the Preamble and in the Taxing and Spending Clause.

    July 4, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Eric

    No. A look through these comments is all you need to know. Half of the comments that say no, say that 'liberal programs' or 'homosexuals' or 'the dictator Obama' is to blame. The other half blame 'bigotry', 'spying', 'last decade's foreign wars', 'spying' and 'loss of freedoms'. Basically, we can't even agree why they would be displeased, just offering that the 'other side' is at fault since America doesn't fit OUR OWN VIEWS.

    The founding fathers went through a war to get their own country, and having EARNED their freedom set up a government of civil discourse, diplomacy, and compromise. That is something that should get better throughout time, not worse and we do not have that in the least. We've seen it in other parts of the world over and over again, those that are given freedom squander it in petty exercise. Those that fight and die for it respect it better. I think as a country we've lost our respect for our freedoms and more importantly the respect for our fellow countrymen so much so that any other competing view is invalid. We use voting as more of a weapon than a voice, the founding fathers would be dismayed.

    July 4, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. Peace

    @ NSL
    You have written that America is still a great nation to live in. Really? I do not think so. By witnessing what happened with the Zimmerman case, young kids being slaughtered in Newtown and no action has been taken. One has to ask himself/herself; does it make any sense to make a lot of money, while you know your loved ones/family lives can be claimed any time, one wishes to do so?

    July 4, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Shawn Armstrong

    The best way to put the decline in our country can be found in one simple statement.

    When the government takes responsibility for its citizens, personal responsibility ceases to exist.

    July 4, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. TruthandConsequence

    I don't think you have to go back to the founding fathers to find disappointment with this country....just a generation or two ahead of us is sufficient. Angry leftists can't wait until they all die off so they can complete their social upheaval of this country our ancestors worked so hard to build.

    July 4, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. Evergreen

    They would be disappointed to know that we now have air that is barely breathable, that the water is barely drinkable and that there are parts of the country where the land is so toxic it cant be cleaned up. The open space they would have expected to see is now all concrete and glass.

    July 4, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. Sven

    Things got worse years after WWII. Progressiveness went out of control.

    July 4, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. ELRod

    Its business as usual here in the good old US of A. Happy Birthday everyone! This corporation founded in 1776 still remains open for business today. Believe it or not the same divide that exist today was also present at our nations founding. So I would say 52% of the founding fathers would be tickled pink to see our nation today while 46% would be appalled that the nation still hasn't gone down their path of touch feely liberalism.

    Note: The typical 2% never make it in to vote.

    July 4, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Mickey

    Our founding fathers wouldn't like us because there are too many of us trying to force religion into government and into the private lives of Americans. They were extremely careful to leave government religion neutral. They did not promote the motto 'In God We Trust" – that came during the McCarthy era when everyone was afraid to be labeled a communist because they didn't believe in God. So many of our references to God in our government came from the era of fear. So, with the perversions going on in the Southern United States – especially Texas, the founding fathers would roll over in their graves, if they could.

    July 4, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. It's History

    Our founding fathers would be disappointed since this once great nation, that they risked so much to make free, has become a socialist nation in only 4.5 years. Using the IRS to influence an election, shame on you Obama.

    July 4, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. kamarasune

    No I don't think they would be happy to know an overwhelming majority of our political leaders (in both parties) has sold us out to wall-street and the banking cartel.

    July 4, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. It's History

    Obamacare = taxation without representation. Don't be like congress people, read the law!!!

    July 4, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. corpsman

    I doubt the poll numbers reflect any real knowledge of US history or the founders' beliefs or intentions. Just another example of right-wing no-holds-barred Obama hatred. Our current president has certainly been less of a threat to the constitution than his predecessor.

    July 4, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @Shawn Armstrong: "The best way to put the decline in our country can be found in one simple statement. When the government takes responsibility for its citizens, personal responsibility ceases to exist.

    Wow, another twisted pithy statement from the Right ... oooooh ... You must be one of those folks who believes the lie that half of Americans don't pay taxes – conveniently ignoring the FACT that the vast majority of those not paying INCOME tax (because they all pay other taxes) are retirees who worked a lifetime and paid income taxes; veterans; the disabled; students; and the working poor who make so little income that they don't owe income taxes.

    Are there some folks who take advantage? Sure – a certain person who wrote off $77,000 as a "business expense" for his wife's "therapy horse" comes to mind.

    BTW, ever give a moment's thought to what "working poor" means? It means people who hold down 1-3 low-paying jobs, but don't make enough to make ends meet and so they need public assistance. (Another thing to think through: When Fox and the righties were going on about how "rich" poor people were because they had microwave ovens, refridgerators and air conditioning, they conveniently ignored the FACT that these things come standard in apartments – where the majority of the working poor live because THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO OWN A HOME.)

    Most people receiving public assistance wish they had jobs that paid better so they wouldn't need the assistance. But you righties tell yourself in one breath that the majority of Americans are lazy moochers – and in the next wax poetic about how we're the greatest people on earth!

    Lastly, our Constitution specifically states that government is to provide for the "general welfare" of the people. That includes infrastructure, public education, a level playing field when it comes to economic opportunity and yes, assistance for those in need to help them make it until they can get back on their feet (you know, benefits for folks like Paul Ryan when his father died).

    July 4, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Pete

    Years ago our forefathers could ever see how republicans attack and obstruct not only our Pres.Obama but the jobs,infastructure bills he represents they'd tar and feather these same unamerican republicans ,plain as that..Our politicians worked together in making America great and would never had used these tactics to try to not only hold hostage its countrys populus but in turn try to bring down our government anyway they can at our populations expense..This is treason and back then be held at the end of a noose or firing squad which ever was deemed necessary to make a point that this extremism would never ever be tolerated as is done today under the guise of patriotism,more like again treason but ignorents only follow what their masters say don't they because they don't know any better!!

    July 4, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. vikingwoman

    I'm a proud immigrant to this country! We left a good country for a nation w/more automic freedom, so my parents could own their own business & not have to franchise through the government! This is a young country in comparison to others, but it's a strong presence in the world! The beauty is that We, the People, are Still the government & it's our choice to be involved in that process! We can quibble & moan about politicians, but, hello, we have the power to change what we don't like! All it takes is a little effort to get involved & let our voices be heard! And we can do it peacfully, w/out coups or violence! Just keep in mind that politicians are Public Servants, they work for us & if they don't, we can kick 'em to da curb! Proud to be a Swedish-American, Happy 4th, y'all!!

    July 4, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    @It's History: "Obamacare = taxation without representation. Don't be like congress people, read the law!!!"

    Funny how the individual mandate was originally proposed by the Heritage Foundation and championed by Repubs as a response to Clinton's proposed universal coverage. You folks loved it then – and even implemented it in Mass under Mittens – but suddenly it's a bad thing because it would benefit the country and reflect well on President Obama.

    July 4, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Bob

    All I know is that this country would last forever without the GOP and with only the GOP would become a third world country with just the Rich and Poor (oh yea and a whole lot more smog). Tea anyone

    July 4, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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