Latest Symptoms of a Disintegrating Nation
In Stephen Vincent Benet's "The Devil and Daniel Webster," the tale is told that if you approached Webster's grave and called out his name, a voice would boom in reply, "Neighbor, how stands the Union?"
"Then you better answer the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible, or he's liable to rear right out of the ground."
Today, it would be untruthful to answer to the soul of Webster that our Union is "rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible."
For the divisions among us replicate those Webster witnessed in his last years before the War Between the States.
A Gallup survey reports the lowest figure ever recorded, 38%, for that share of our population that proclaims itself to be "extremely proud" to be Americans. Another 27% say they are "very proud."
But the share of our people who say they are only "moderately proud" or a "little proud" or "not at all proud" to be Americans adds up to a third of the nation.
In the past, those "extremely" or "very proud" to be Americans used to average 80% of the country. Now it is down to 65%.
To love one's country, Edmund Burke said, one's country ought to be lovely. It would appear that 1 in 3 Americans, more than 100 million of us, no longer see our country as truly lovely.
While patriotism and pride in U.S. citizenship and in being part of this national community are eroding, other problems are being revealed by public surveys.
In a new AP-NORC poll, 85% of all Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, with 92% of Republicans believing this to be true and 78% of Democrats agreeing.