WASHINGTON, DC – A new, nationwide survey shows that while the majority of us are still proud to be Americans, there is a growing number of dissenters who feel they are not proud— or not as proud— as they used to be.
“The Gallup Poll did not ask whether the dissenters believed in American exceptionalism, but the odds are they would take exception to that notion. And that would be ironic, because it is dissention – by those seeking to change things for all of the people – that makes America extraordinary,” according to author, publisher and history advocate David Bruce Smith.
Smith says that bullies who would back up their dissent with violence are certainly not welcome here, but history has taught us that America does encourage the out-of-the-box thinkers.
“If you had a good history teacher, you’d know it was dissenters like George Washington, John Adams and the other Founding Fathers who had the dream of American democracy—first. And, it took nonconformists such as Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King to incorporate their visions of a better world to bring about much needed reforms to the American way, and actually influence the world for the better.”
Last year, when Gallup conducted the same survey, it found that 78% of Americans were “extremely” or “very” proud to be Americans. This year, the poll revealed only 67% felt that way—a remarkably sharp drop—and the lowest level since this annual poll was first conducted 17 years ago.
“It is interesting to note that the time span coincides with the nearly two decades since many educators started de-emphasizing history in the classroom—a fact that has been consistently proven by the results of serious investigations. It offers a reason for an intense effort to resurrect an interest in America’s past among young learners,” says Smith.
Smith, along with Dr. Bruce Cole, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, co-founded the Grateful American Book Prize in order to “jump start” a new love of history among students. The Prize offers an annual award to authors who produce books of fiction and nonfiction that accurately focus on events and personalities in American history. According to Smith, the aim is to encourage authors and their publishers to get on board with an effort to revitalize an enthusiasm for history among the country’s school children by retelling the way the U.S. came to be, and how it has grown into “a beacon for the world” since then.
“Any parent will tell you that children respond to a good, engaging and exciting story,” says Smith. “They get caught up in the mystery and suspense, which helps them remember what happened. So let’s tell them about the nation’s past in the same way; in a manner that engages their curiosity and desire to learn more. And, perhaps, it will give dissenters a good reason to eschew protests in favor of new ideas, and to make —-revolutionaries with ideals— their role models– people like Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. It just might turn them into better, civically minded citizens who are—proud to be Americans.”