On the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate the birth of the nation and the values that have sustained the country and its democracy in the nearly 250 years since the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Americans’ views vary when it comes to how they see the United States’ standing in the world and the state of its democracy. Here are key findings from Pew Research Center surveys:
2At the same time, nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) say the U.S. is less respected abroad than it was in the past. There have been considerable changes in how Republicans and Democrats view the global level of respect for the U.S., according to a survey conducted last year. Last fall, 42% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the U.S. is less respected than it was in the past, the lowest share saying this in more than a decade. In comparison, 87% of Democrats and Democratic leaners said the U.S. is less respected than it was in the past, an increase from 58% in 2016.
3Americans generally agree that democracy is working at least somewhat well in America, but many say that “significant changes” to the political system are needed. Nearly six-in-ten Americans say democracy is working somewhat (40%) or very well (18%), according to a spring 2018 survey. But many Americans see the country falling short when it comes to some of the core elements of democracy. While 84% of the public says it is very important that “the rights and freedoms of all people are respected” in the U.S., just 47% say this describes the country very or somewhat well. When asked to compare the U.S. political system with others in developed countries, only about four-in-ten Americans (41%) say it is “best in the world” or “above average,” while 57% say it is “average” or “below average.”
The American dream has different meanings for Americans. Majorities say “freedom of choice in how to live” (77%), having a good family life (70%) and the ability to retire comfortably (60%) are essential to their view of the American dream. About half or fewer Americans say making valuable community contributions, owning a home and having a successful career are essential to the American dream. And just 11% say becoming wealthy is key to their view of the American dream.
6A majority of Americans say the U.S. is a better place to live as a result of its growing racial and ethnic diversity. Just 9% of Americans say growing racial and ethnic diversity makes the country a worse place to live, according to a survey conducted this spring. Partisans differ in their views: While seven-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say the growing diversity in the U.S. makes it a better country to live, 47% of Republicans and Republican leaners say the same. More highly educated adults are more likely to embrace the effect of growing diversity on the country.