Nov 22, 2019

Belief in American exceptionalism on the decline: poll

President Trump hugs a flag. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Most Americans think theirs is an exceptional nation, either for what it represents (42.4%) or what it has done for the world (18.2%), according to a survey from the Eurasia Group Foundation.

But, but, but: 39.5% view America as just another country acting in its own interests, up from 33.4% a year ago. That's because fewer people feel America represents something exceptional.

  • The generation gap: 75.2% of older Americans (60+) consider America exceptional, compared to 45.1% of 18- to 29-year-olds.

The survey also underscores Americans' noninterventionist tendencies:

1. In response to humanitarian abuses overseas, most would opt for restraint (47.1%) or a UN-led response (33.5%) rather than U.S. military action (19.4%).

2. More Americans think the U.S. should decrease (57.6%) rather than increase (42.4%) its military presence in Asia in response to a rising China.

  • Many favor an argument often made by President Trump — that countries like Japan and South Korea can afford to defend themselves.

3. Americans are split over what to do about Afghanistan.

  • 38.8% say the U.S. should withdraw within the year, 31.4% say the U.S. should negotiate with the Taliban but remain until a deal is reached, and 29.8% say the U.S. should remain until all enemies are defeated.

The 2020 angle: "Trump supporters are less inclined to retaliate against Russia. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders supporters are more inclined to draw down our military presence in East Asia and reduce defense spending," writes Mark Hannah, the report's author.

  • Asked about the greatest threats the U.S. will face this century, immigration ranks first of four options for Republicans and last for Democrats, who are most worried about the rise of populism and authoritarianism.
  • Concerns about the costs of trade wars rose significantly for both parties over the past year.

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