Barone: Is America A Good Country Or Not?

Periodically pollster Scott Rasmussen asks voters whether they think America is basically fair and decent or whether America is basically unfair and discriminatory. In the latest survey, 64 percent say America is basically fair and decent, and 22 percent say it is unfair and discriminatory. Men (70 percent) are considerably more likely than women (59 percent) to say that America is fair and decent. As one might expect, blacks tend to think America is unfair and discriminatory rather than fair and decent, by a 47 percent to 37 percent margin. Whites take a positive view (67 percent to 18 percent) and so do "others" (63 percent to 33 percent), a category that I assume is mostly made up of Hispanics. Republicans by a wide margin (78 percent to 12 percent) see America as fair and decent, while Democrats are split (49 percent to 36 percent).

This poll was conducted on March 31 and April 1 (registration required). Rasmussen has asked this question 19 times since November 2006; the fair and decent response peaked at 64 percent then and in early February (because of Barack Obama's showings in the primaries?). The most negative response (54 percent to 32 percent fair and decent over unfair and discriminatory) came in July 2007.

I think this split among Democrats is a permanent problem for the party. The Democratic base is split between those who like hearing good things about America and those who like to hear the nation denounced or, if that's too strong a word, criticized. Bill Clinton was skillful enough to weave together rhetoric celebrating America and apologizing for its past misdeeds, but not all Democratic politicians are so deft.

You see a similar pattern in the responses to another Rasmussen question, should the United States do what its allies want or should the allies do what the United States wants? All: Allies should do what the United States wants, 42 percent to 29 percent. Republicans: Allies should do what the United States wants, 66 percent to 13 percent. Democrats: United States should do what the allies want, 39 percent to 30 percent. Interestingly, voters under 30 come out on the side of allies doing what the United States wants, 57 percent to 28 percent.

There's little equivocation on whether people who move to the United States should adopt American culture or retain their home country culture. American culture comes out way ahead among all voters (78 percent to 11 percent), Republicans (89 percent to 4 percent), and Democrats (69 percent to 16 percent). Multiculturalism has a very small base in our country.

By Michael Barone