There’s a phrase that a lot of Americans like to throw around when describing the United States: "The greatest country in the world."
However, Pew Research polls show that this is a generational claim, and that millennials aren’t enchanted by this phrase. Why is there an obsession with this phrase? Does this help Americans, or is it daft and dangerous rhetoric? Considering what millennials have gone through, the mantle for “greatest” doesn’t belong to the United States, and there’s a lot to show that they’re right.
The data from the Pew Research Poll shows that 48% of Americans think their turf is No. 1. Roughly, one out of two Americans will advocate for the top slot. However, only 32% of millennials will share that same opinion. Isn’t this the generation who has grown up with rampant technology, access to social media, and services taken for granted that would erupt the developing world in jealousy?
This is the cult of rhetoric behind the phrase, “greatest country in the world.” Americans have so much more than many around the globe. Americans have earned this. Americans have fought for this. Patriotism is acknowledging that the United States is top dog.
Millennials can be patriotic too, but not be obsessed with the arbitrary standing of their country. The same Pew Research poll found that 70% of millennials expressed “I am very patriotic.” Granted, this is still lower than Boomers who sit at 91%. The disconcerting notion is that millennials are patriotic without thinking the United States is the greatest country in the world. How is this so?
What society is failing to see is the millennial plight. They’re not lazy, they’re undermined millennials have seen first hang that the United States can do better. Conditions are bad now, have been better, and that’s what doesn’t make the United States the best.
As a recent CNN cartoon in defense of millennials points out, it’s not a sense of laziness or lack of traditional work values. Instead, it’s the terrible economic conditions that put millennials in a terrible situation that relatively, their parents couldn’t fare better in. millennials have also seen corporate corruption in domestic politics, Wall Street greed, military disasters overseas, invasions of privacy, and now accusations of being lazy from a generation that didn’t help the status quo. It’s dangerous to think there aren’t problems with the United States.
So hey, millennials may be right. The United States isn’t the greatest country in the world because it still has to prove that by striving to do better. Acknowledge shortcomings, and fix them. That’s true patriotism.