‘A nation whose citizens no longer feel national pride or a unique allegiance to their own country is a nation that has lost its sense of national identity, and perhaps its will to survive. This is an identity crisis,” according to E Pluribus Unum, a report of the Bradley Project on America’s National Identity.
The report was released ten years ago, but those words ring just as true today — what with the many discussions roiling our politics about what it means to be an American; whether we should continue to be proud of what our country has done; whether to even keep the careful constitutional construct that has allowed us to do much of it; and whether to trust those at the helms of the institutions involved in that construct, as well as in our economy and culture.
The Bradley Project was finishing its work during the early stages of a presidential campaign that ended in the election of the nation’s first African-American president, someone who addressed an adoring throng in Berlin that summer as a “citizen of the world” and defeated an opponent whose slogan urged “Country First” in the fall. It was in the midst of the Great Recession, which arguably worsened distrust in so many of America’s governmental and financial elites. And state courts were just starting to issue some of the first opinions altering the traditional definition of marriage.
There was a crisis then, yes — but now it sure seems much deeper and wider.