What it means to be American

A recent survey highlights some of the differences between Democrats and Republicans on what it means to be an American. The survey shows that, while each takes pride in their country, we disagree on the parts that we believe are important.

First, the good news. We each think that there are core elements about being an American that are important:

Note: all quotes are taken from the CBS News article titled Poll: 7 in 10 people say America is losing its identity

There are some points of resounding agreement among Democrats, Republicans and independents about what makes up the country’s identity. Among them: a fair judicial system and rule of law, the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, and the ability to get good jobs and achieve the American dream.

Those seem to be pretty good ideals. While it is possible to disagree on what constitutes a good job or the details of the rule of law, at least we can agree that they are important.

But here are some things on which we disagree:

About 65 percent of Democrats said a mix of global cultures was extremely or very important to American identity, compared with 35 percent of Republicans. Twenty-nine percent of Democrats saw Christianity as that important, compared with 57 percent of Republicans.

Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say that the ability of people to come to escape violence and persecution is very important, 74 percent to 55 percent. Also, 25 percent of Democrats said the culture of the country’s early European immigrants very important, versus 46 percent of Republicans.

Those are some pretty basic disagreements. The article also goes on to say that these disagreements have caused problems to spring up in the past. Given these basic differences in philosophy, it is going to be difficult to steer the country in any direction that doesn’t put is in direct conflict with other Americans.