Why are poor Americans more patriotic than their wealthier counterparts?

(THE GUARDIAN) December 27, 2019

To be poor anywhere in the world is hard, but being poor in America is especially difficult. While the income of wealthier Americans has grown significantly in the recent decades, the wages of the country’s worst-off have stagnated. The available social benefits (for unemployment, illness or old age, for instance) pale in comparison with those enjoyed by poor people in other advanced countries. America’s poor also work longer hours than their counterparts elsewhere, while their children have less opportunity to escape poverty than if they lived in Europe.

On these and other fronts America has let them down. From time to time, observers, like Thomas Edsall of the New York Times and the former United States secretary of labor Robert Reich, have asked why the poor don’t rebel despite these stark inequities. As the Economist recently put it, “Why aren’t the poor storming the barricades?” For answers, we have to take into account the intensity of their patriotic feelings.

If we define patriotism not only as an attachment to country but also as a belief in its greatness, if not superiority – the brand of patriotism expressed by America’s poor is extraordinary. Data analysis from the authoritative General Social Survey (run by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago) shows that over 90% of America’s poorest would rather be citizens of the United States than of any other nation. The figure is higher than that for working-class, middle-class and upper-class Americans. About 80% also believe that America is a “better” country than most other countries.