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Gazeta, Russia

America's Young People Turn Against 'Patriotic Bravado'


"Young people, who are now entering active public life and building careers, are distinguished by a greater openness, tolerance and a positive outlook. But at the same time, they have a declining tendency toward patriotic bravado and perceive the theme of American greatness more calmly and with far less pathos."


By Fyodor Lukyanov*



Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


January 26, 2012


Gazeta - Russia - Original Article (Russian)

Mitt Romney: Are he and the rest of the Republican field more prone to gaffs than presidential candidates of the past?

RUSSIA TODAY VIDEO: Eternal Disgrace - U.S. politicians display gross ignorance, Feb. 5, 00:03:50RealVideo

In the United States, a fully-fledged campaign for the presidency, which will end in November, has begun. Republican candidates are clashing in the primaries, and unexpectedly, intrigue has suddenly reared its head. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was about to celebrate his triumph when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich nearly caught up to him.


Barack Obama delivered the annual [State of the Union] address to the nation, which was regarded as a campaign speech. The head of state challenged his Republican congressional opponents, making it clear to them that he intends to return to his once staunch views (by American standards, substantially liberal), and not seek support in the center. This is a bid to win back the votes of those who voted for him in 2008, but have since been disappointed.


No one can predict the results of the November election. In terms of rivals, Obama may have had some luck. Romney is no shining star and no great orator. And his business background, which some call vulture-like, renders the candidate vulnerable to attack. Gingrich, on the other hand, is extremely colorful and eloquent, even excessively so, but might frighten away the moderates.


Besides, Gingrich's tumultuous personal life, now in his third marriage, very much perturbs the staunch conservatives he considers his people. According to the latest polls, Obama beats any of the Republican candidates, although the gap between him and Mitt Romney is minimal. However, all forecasts are extremely tentative. Obama’s main opponent will be the economy, especially the unemployment rate. If in the coming months it doesn’t drop significantly, Republican chances will improve.


Regardless of who wins, there are objective conditions that will determine the future policies of the U.S. administration, including in the international arena, first of all the economic situation. Even if neoconservatives make a return to the White House (and in foreign policy terms, both Romney and Gingrich have inclinations in this direction), the need to cut expenditures will dictate a more restrained course.


Today, Republicans criticize Obama for seeking to limit America’s global ambitions and concentrate on priorities (which is the essence of the doctrine formulated during his presidency). But in light of economic conditions, Republicans are unlikely to change anything if they come to power.



And there is another factor - public opinion. At the end of last year coinciding with the launch of the election campaign, the Pew Research Center, a sociological think tank, conducted a massive public opinion poll. Respondents were divided into four age groups - the "Silent Generation" (66-83), the "Baby-Boomers" (47-65), "Generation X" (31-46), and the "Millennial Children" (18-30). The results of the poll forecast the dynamics of public sentiment.


Thus, the age breakdown of answers to the question of American exceptionalism - measuring the assertion that the United States is the greatest country in the world - is interesting. The largest number of those who share this belief (64 percent) is among the oldest, the "Silent Generation," (which reaches a height of 72 percent in the 76-83 age range). Baby-Boomers are split precisely in half, and among Generation X, only 48 percent are proponents of American exceptionalism, with the youngest being the most skeptical - 32 percent. A similar pattern can be seen when it comes to the question of patriotism: Seventy percent of Millennium Children answer positively to the question of whether they consider themselves "very patriotic." The remaining numbers range from 86 percent to 91 percent. Seventy percent is without a doubt high, but that level has fallen consistently since 2003, when 80 percent of young people felt the most patriotic.


In assessing the source of national success, the nation is united. The vast majority of Americans of all ages consider freedom to be the central source of this success, followed by hard work, natural resources, military strength, democratic governance, free markets, and religious and racial/ethnic diversity.


What is telling is the fact that the older groups tend to place more significance on military power than the younger, and the younger groups believe democracy and religion to be relatively less important. Another category is notable - that of declining morals. Although the older groups are much harsher, among the very youngest, more than half note a record expansion of immorality over the last 50 years.


At the same time, more young Americans tend toward historical optimism which is distinguished by faith in the future. In the two youngest categories, an almost equal number of respondents (46 percent and 45 percent) believe that over the past 40 years, life in America has changed for the better. Indicators for the two oldest categories of respondents are significantly lower in this regard - 29 percent and 31 percent. Fifty five percent of Millennial Children and Generation X are convinced that tomorrow will be better than yesterday, while among the "Boomers" and "Silents," the numbers are lower: 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Attitudes toward the changing ethnic composition of America logically follow this trend. For instance, 60 percent of Millennial Children welcome the increased number of mixed marriages, but the numbers plummet among older age groups: among the Silent Generation, only 29 percent feel that way. Forty three percent of Millennial Children welcome the influx of Asians. But curiously, the rise in the Hispanic population cheers much smaller numbers of young people (33 percent - which is even less than among Generation X). Among older respondents, the numbers are significantly lower, but they, too, prefer Asians over Mexicans and other arrivals of Latin American origin.


In regard to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the pattern is a monotonous one: support at the beginning and a practically uniform decline in support later - although younger respondents are much more optimistic about eventual success in Afghanistan. Answers to the question about the benefit of having close economic ties to China and free trade are telling. Here we find the greatest age gap: 69 percent of Millennials favor developing relations with North Korea, whereas only 42 percent of the Silent Generation does. Sixty three percent of Millennial Children and only 41 percent of older respondents said they generally favor free trade.


Of course, these statistics don't allow us to predict U.S. foreign policy for the next ten to twenty years. Especially since foreign policy is formulated by the ruling class, which even in a democracy isn't guided by the will of the people. And yet, a trend is detectable.



Le Figaro, France: Gingrich Success Reflects Republican 'Personality Disorder'
Tokushima Shimbun, Japan: State of Union Sends 'Wrong Message' to Pyongyang
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: America: 'Land of Inequality'

Liberation, France: It is 'Yes We Can' in America Once More
Liberation, France: Finally, Obama Chooses Combat Over Conciliation

FAZ, Germany: U.S. Republican 'Civil War' Proving Hopelessly Divisive
Der Tagesspiegel, Germany: The Republicans: Right Where Obama Wants Them

Nachrichten, Austria: Newt: America's 'Hypocritical Moralizing Apostle'

Diario de Cuyo, Argentina: Chavez and Obama: A Common Electoral Challenge

China Daily, China: Republican Race 'Hijacks' China-U.S. Relations
Diario de Cuyo, Argentina: Chavez and Obama: A Common Electoral Challenge

News, Switzerland: Romney's Core Presidential Competency: 'Shameless Lying'

Samidoon, Palestinian Territories: 'Thank You Newt: Your Insolence is Required!'
Le Quotidien d’Oran, Algeria: Gingrich's 'Fervent' Wish: 'Final Solution' for Palestinians

FTD, Germany: U.S. Republicans Must Expunge 'Radicalism' and Choose Romney

Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia: Putin is Better than Goldman Sachs
Liberation, France: Democracy Crippled: Economics Replaces Separation of Powers

El Pais, Spain: Occupy Wall Street: Will it Help or Hinder Reelection of Obama?



Young people, who are now entering active public life and building careers, are distinguished by a greater openness, tolerance and a positive outlook. But at the same time, they have a declining tendency toward patriotic bravado and perceive the theme of American greatness more calmly and with far less pathos. Furthermore, a more positive attitude toward immigration is evidence of a sober evaluation of necessity.  



A readiness to accept more Asians rather than their culturally closer Mexican neighbors points to a likely source of tension and indirectly suggests that future U.S. leaders will have to pay more attention to the "near abroad," most likely by reducing longer-range foreign policy ambitions. In the same category is the assessment of free trade: the goals of younger respondents are less protectionist than those of older ones; they prefer trade over confrontation with China. But this is a double-edged sword: history knows examples of violent conflict in the name of free trade.


On the whole, the forecast for the dynamics of public sentiment correspond to the need to economize and conduct a more restrained foreign policy. Today's Republican primaries are characterized by the relative success of Libertarian Ron Paul, who is a worthy opponent to the heavyweights. As a representative of a marginal group (the foreign policy ideal of which is isolationism), he is unelectable. But the number of people who support him prove that a significant segment of American society is tired of its global burden and agrees with the notion of turning inward. In a globally-interconnected world, that's impossible, but failing to account for the mood of the people won't do, either.


*Fyodor Lukyanov is Chief Editor for Russian in Global Affairs




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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US Feb. 5, 8:13pm]





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