Proud to Be Americans, and Glad to Eat Burgers

Americans aren’t bashful about criticizing the U.S., as they routinely do when polled about its economy, morals, schools, you name it. Don’t take those complaints to mean people are down on the country, though. In a new Harris Poll, 84 percent said they’re “very proud” to be American citizens, and most of the rest are “somewhat proud” (12 percent). Only among 18-24-year-olds did the “very proud” tally (69 percent) fall significantly below the national average. There was variation along racial and ethnic lines, with 68 percent of blacks in the “very proud” camp, vs. 83 percent of Hispanics and 87 percent of non-Hispanic whites. On the other hand, Hispanics were a notch more likely than whites to say they usually feel proud to be Americans when they hear the national anthem (94 percent vs. 93 percent, with blacks at 72 percent). When people were asked to pick the top three symbols of the U.S., the stars-and-stripes flag won the most mentions (cited by 81 percent), trailed by the Statue of Liberty (63 percent) and the national anthem (42 percent). A burger-conscious3 percent included McDonald’s among their top national icons. Of course, burgers do have a special status in the hearts (not to say arteries) of Americans. Given a list of foods and asked to pick the ones that are “more typically American than others,” respondents gave a plurality to hamburgers/cheeseburgers (29 percent), putting them well ahead of apple pie (20 percent) and hot dogs (13 percent). Invited to pick the “top three parts of the American dream,” respondents produced a mixture of material and nonmaterial elements. Atop the list was “living in freedom” (78 percent), followed by “being financially secure” (45 percent), “democracy” (42 percent) and “owning a home” (40 percent).