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ROUTLEDGE: Hope Lost in America? Not If We Cultivate Patriotism Together

Hope is essential for a thriving society, yet only half of Americans are hopeful for the nation’s future. To address this challenge, we must cultivate a shared patriotic spirit that rises above divisive politics

The United States emphasizes individual liberty, which has helped it become a flourishing country where people are free to pursue their distinct talents and interests and reach their full potential. However, it is also essential for Americans to balance their individualism with a shared, positive national identity.

Humans are a tribal species, hard-wired to form and maintain group connections. While our group-oriented nature often gets a bad rap because it can sometimes fuel prejudice, discrimination and violence, mainly when other groups are perceived as a threat, it also helps build and maintain thriving organizations, communities and nations. Group affiliation nurtures social trust, unites individuals around shared objectives, and provides a sense of existential meaning from being a valuable member of a family, organization or cultural group that outlasts a lifespan.

Thus, when approaching societal problems and goals, fostering a shared national identity — a patriotic spirit that unites us is essential.

The latest research from the Archbridge Institute’s Human Flourishing Lab underscores a particularly positive feature of patriotism: Its relationship with hope for the nation’s future.

Hope is a crucial driver of individual and societal flourishing. Hopeful individuals are optimistic about the future and strongly believe in their ability to improve their lives. This mindset makes them more resilient when confronted with challenges and more adaptable in their strategies for overcoming obstacles and achieving objectives. Consequently, hopeful individuals tend to excel in life, whether pursuing educational, professional or athletic endeavors.

The benefits of a hopeful attitude extend beyond personal achievements. Hopeful individuals are motivated to contribute positively to their families, communities and society, and they are more tolerant of those they disagree with — a quality that is essential for the success of a free and diverse society. Hope also supports creativity and innovative problem-solving, which contributes to the entrepreneurship and dynamism that has made America a land of opportunity.

So, what does patriotism have to do with hope? When people hold a positive view of their group, they are more likely to maintain a hopeful outlook on life. A positive national group identity can thus encourage hopeful attitudes about the country’s future.

Indeed, our nationally representative survey of 2,000 American adults found that national pride — an indicator of a positive national group identity — is a strong predictor of national hope. Overall, just over half (56 percent) of Americans are hopeful for the country’s future. However, a striking disparity emerged when considering the role of patriotism: 64 percent of respondents who said they are proud to be American indicated that they are hopeful for the nation’s future, compared to just 27 percent of those who said they are not proud to be American.

Critically, this pattern was observed for Americans of all ages and political affiliations. Whether young or old, liberal or conservative, patriotism is strongly associated with hope for the future.

The good news is that 81 percent of Americans are proud to be American. The challenge, however, is a large patriotism gap between younger generations of liberals, conservatives and moderates. While more than 90 percent of conservatives, moderates and liberals age 60 and above are proud to be American, younger age groups show a significant patriotism gap, with liberals expressing far less pride in their country than their conservative or moderate counterparts. Only 47 percent of liberals under the age of 30 are proud to be American, compared to 75 percent of young conservatives.

The widening patriotism gap among younger generations, especially between liberals and conservatives, poses a significant obstacle to addressing issues that affect the nation’s psychological, social and economic well-being. Young American adults would be wise to learn from their elders that a love of country can transcend political differences.

Encouragingly, surveys suggest that Americans are growing tired of divisive politics. This allows leaders across society to recognize the importance of promoting a unifying and forward-looking national narrative that inspires hope, fosters understanding across differences, and encourages citizens to collaborate toward a better future while upholding a commitment to individual liberty.

By embracing personal freedom and national belonging, we can promote individual and societal flourishing and pave the way for a brighter future for all.

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FLOWERS: Charlie Gerow Brings Hope to GOP Governor’s Race

I just finished a consultation with a young woman from El Salvador who was fleeing the rampant violence in her country. Without revealing any confidential information, that young woman suffered more than anyone should be forced to undergo in 19 brief years on this earth. And yet, she had hope that we could offer her a better life.

“Hope” is a very special thing, and something in which this country specializes. “Hope,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, is the thing “with feathers” that keeps us soaring in the moments when our feet are filled with lead. Hope, as my mother used to say, is the last thing to die.

Charlie Gerow has made his gubernatorial campaign about hope. To the veterans of political campaigns, that might sound naïve. To angry voters divided by culture wars and suspicion, that might sound foolish. To me, it hits the perfect note. Charlie is one of many in a crowded primary, and he isn’t at the head of a fractious pack. But perhaps that’s a good thing because it’s given him an opportunity to cross this beautiful commonwealth and not worry about endorsements, angering famous politicians, triggering media pushback, or pushing the wrong buttons of Pennsylvanians who are tired of the mess created by Tom Wolf and his coterie of incompetent Democrats.

I sat down with Charlie the other day to talk about everything from unborn babies to marijuana as we enter this last, frenetic phase of the primary. I’d been at his campaign launch last year, followed his progress through the primary and the debates, and wanted to see what kind of a mark this crazy political season had made on a man who-in my opinion-is the only GOP candidate who can pull together a coalition to beat Josh Shapiro. It was a candid conversation, as any chat between two lifetime Pennsylvanians would be.

My first question was whether his months of campaigning had changed his mind about any issues that were central to his platform and policies, and he stated they hadn’t. It came with this caveat: “I haven’t changed any of my positions, but I’ve expanded some. For example, I’m developing a plan to put 1,000 more police officers on the streets of Philadelphia to protect people and public safety. I’ve also proposed that we require graduating high school students to pass a citizenship test, similar to the one that naturalized citizens take.”

Every Philadelphian reading this should support Charlie’s push for more police officers. The Democrats floated the ridiculous idea that we should defund the police, before realizing that was a dead-end message, and that not even their base could support this dereliction of duty and concern for the average, law-abiding citizen. As far as the citizenship test, that would go a long way to reminding American children that they are not racist, they are not sexist, they are not evil, and they belong to the greatest country on earth. Immigrants should not be the only ones obligated to fully understand the nature and grandeur of our history. As Charlie noted, “Teaching old-fashioned civics is a great way around the CRT and transgender sports nonsense our kids are being indoctrinated with.”

The first time I met Charlie was at a pro-life rally in Harrisburg. He spoke at the rally, and talked about his devotion to the pro-life movement. It’s personal for him, as he’s explained numerous times on the campaign trail. Charlie was born to a single mother in Brazil who couldn’t take care of him. She did the most honorable and painful thing a mother can do: Give her child up for adoption so that he could have a better life. As a result of that selfless generosity, he’s enjoyed a life that would have been unimaginable had he remained in the slums of Brazil.

When I asked him about the recently-leaked Dobbs decision, Charlie asked, “If we won’t fight to defend the most defenseless, our unborn children, for whom will we fight?” This candidate would provide a stark contrast to Democrat Shapiro who believes abortion should be legal up until the ninth month.

Almost as controversial as abortion is the issue of legalized marijuana. Pennsylvania has not gotten to the point where non-medicinal pot is legal in the commonwealth, but it appears there is some momentum for legalizing cannabis. I am strongly opposed to legalization, and asked Charlie why he mentioned at a recent debate that he’d sign a bill making it legal to smoke pot. He responded: “It was a debate, and I was given 30 seconds to answer. I’ve made it clear that I’m not pushing for decriminalization or legalization. The bill I referenced is being pushed by my state senator, a Republican with background in law enforcement. He sees it as both inevitable, and an issue of regulation and taxation.” An honest, pragmatic answer.

Of all the candidates out there on my side of the aisle, it’s clear that Charlie Gerow is the only one who can build a coalition of the willing, the unified, and the hopeful. Given his years of public service and dedication to the state, I hope he gets that opportunity.


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