Americans’ Faith in U.S. Institutions Going the Way of Patriotism Under Joe Biden

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Americans have spent this week celebrating the founding of our nation. We watched parades and fireworks and ate barbecue. But for most of us, while we did all of those things, we remembered why and what we were celebrating: the amazing achievement that is America. For some reason, a few days before the celebration began, Fox News decided to pop everyone’s balloon by coming out with the results of a new poll that showed that just 39 percent of Americans say they are proud of their country. That number might be the result of many contributing factors, but a recent Gallup poll says that Americans have also lost faith in many of the core institutions that really define America, who we are, and what we believe in.

Gallup asks Americans annually about their confidence in 16 American institutions. This year, the numbers were nothing to celebrate. It is perhaps a dose of karma that the office of the presidency took the biggest hit, with just 26 percent saying they have faith in that institution. The Supreme Court was not far behind, with a confidence ranking of 27 percent. These were the American institutions that fared the best — it gets worse. Respondents to the poll ranked faith in the nation’s newspapers at 18 percent and the criminal justice system at 17 percent. There was a tie between big business and television news at 14 percent, and bringing up the rear, not a surprise, Congress at eight percent.

Much of the loss of confidence reported in the office of the President may have a lot to do with the current occupant and his job performance. On Thursday, Biden took an economic victory lap in South Carolina, where most Palmetto State residents say the economy is worse than a year ago, and Joe Biden has a 66 percent disapproval rating. South Carolinians are reflecting the mood overall, as the Gallup poll also says that 75 percent of Americans believe the economy is getting worse. There were some bright spots in the Gallup poll. Respondents ranked confidence in the police at 43 percent, the military at 60 percent, and small businesses at 65 percent. But the bottom line, according to Gallup, is that average confidence in primary American institutions was at an all-time low of 26 percent. And it has happened on Joe Biden’s watch.

Losses in confidence of other institutions tend to reflect their appearance in current events. And the numbers are a lot like you might think they would be. From 2021 to 2023, faith in the medical system has lost ten percentage points, from 44 to 34. As new information about what Americans were told during the pandemic emerges, it might be understandable. Faith in America’s public school system was also down during that same time period, from 32 percent to 26 percent. But it also appears that Americans still have faith in…faith. Confidence in the church and organized religion was only down slightly from 37 percent to 32 percent.

The number of Americans feeling less proud and patriotic about the country is a gateway to having little faith in the nation’s institutions. The answer as to why Americans are feeling less proud is found in America’s education system, where things like critical race theory are being taught, seemingly in an effort to foster hatred of the country. If younger Americans learn to view America as a negative force, they will have no desire to defend it. That is being borne out in the current dismal military recruitment numbers. That same disdain is bound to bleed over into antipathy for the institutions that the nation was founded upon.

Much of this has to do with the constant drumbeat of the left portraying these institutions as harmful to certain groups of Americans. But for those who are old enough, they remember the general mood of the country at the tail end of President Jimmy Carter’s term in office, and a lot of it feels the same. Maybe 2024 will feel a lot like 1980.



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